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Apple Trees and Waterfalls – Part One

I had a wonderful day last Saturday!  I spent it with my good friend, Vicki, her sister and their two nieces in the Shenandoah Valley, picking apples and climbing waterfalls.  Well, climbing a trail. But there were waterfalls!

One of the great things about where I live is the proximity to so many other wonderful places.  We’re an hour away from our nation’s capital, an hour away from the state capital, an hour and a half from the mountains and two hours from the beach.  If your notion of fun runs to roller coasters and water parks, King’s Dominion is a forty-minute drive, and Busch Gardens is two hours or so. I’d say that Fredericksburg is a day trip away from just about anything you’d want to do.

First stop – the apple orchard. I was too short to reach these, so my friend helped me out. The bottoms of the trees were well picked over, but there were some big beauties still hanging up top.

I have long wanted to experience the fun of picking my own apples.  That sounds silly now that I’ve written it out, but it’s true.  Another friend of mine used to go every fall with her family and she loved it.  It always sounded like so much fun, and a little exotic, in a country kind of way.  I imagined what you see on the television or in movies: tall trees with apple-laden branches stretching out across a bright blue sky, wooden ladders propped up against sturdy trunks, and apple baskets (you know the kind, with bright red handles) filled to the brim with delicious redness.

I’m sure those kinds of apple trees exist…but I didn’t see a one.  When we got to the orchard, I was confronted with two things I didn’t expect, the first being the general appearance of the trees.  They were a little shorter than I thought they would be, and they had that kind of droopy shape where the branches stretch themselves way out until their weight forces them to curve toward the ground.  The second thing that surprised me is how the apples grew in bunches.  It was weirdly wonderful, a delight for the eyes.

They had Fuji and Rome apples available for pick-your-own, and we chose the Fuji (yay, my favorite!).   At 75 cents per pound, these were bargain apples, and I walked away with 11 pounds worth of bargain.  PS: 11 pounds of apples start getting heavy after about a half hour of carrying them around.  Okay, 15 minutes.

I just have to tell you that picking my own apples was just as great as I had hoped.  Wading through the branches and finding yourself in the middle of a tree was part of the fun.  Slipping and sliding and rolling around on all of the apples that had already fallen, stretching and straining to reach that one lovely specimen that you just had to have for your own, pulling one apple down and having three more fall on your head, looking up through the branches and being momentarily blinded by the sun, moving from tree to tree in search of the next perfect apple…all of it added to the experience.  But being with friends, talking and laughing, teasing and helping…that’s what made the experience.

Before we left, we sampled their offerings of pre-picked apples.  I bought a few pounds of the Winesap variety, but within a half hour, I couldn’t remember what they were called (Vicki had to remind me).  Oh, well…all I know is I was munching already, and they were delicious.  The Winesaps are a beautiful deep red, and they’re crisp, a little tart, and so, so tasty. And the pre-picked apples where just as juicy as the ones we picked ourselves. I’ll be eating apples for weeks, and enjoying every one.

We got $1 pumpkins, too. Can you see how one hill is in fall colors and one is still green? It seems to be like that all over Virginia.

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As you can see, I got my bright blue sky.  In fact, I got everything I could have wanted.

And 16 pounds of apples.

Next stop – Crabtree Falls!

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Items of Interest:

Dickie Brothers Orchard

click on the Flickr link for more pictures

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15 Comments Post a comment
  1. We were going to go to the Shenandoah mountains last weekend and there was not a room to be found of course. It was UVA homecoming and JMU family weekend plus apple festivals going on all over the place. You are so lucky and I’m very jealous!!!! Your photos are gorgeous. Have you ever eaten an Albemarle Pippin? It is an heirloom apple said to be Jefferson’s favorite. I love them. They are ugly green apples, very crispy and with a flavor all their own. We usually make it to the mountains every fall for apples (but sadly probably not this year) and I always try to pick up a few bags of Albemarle Pippins. I’ve been to crabtree falls before! Can’t wait to read that post!

    October 19, 2011
    • It’s too bad you couldn’t make it, but the leaves are slow to change this year, so I think there’s still time! I have never had an Albemarle Pippen, but I love crisp apples. I’ll have to try one if I ever see them.

      I was invited on this trip, and I do count myself as very lucky! It was a wonderful day. I’m sad you may not be able to go this year.

      October 20, 2011
  2. I haven’t been to Busch Gardens since I was little, but I’d love to go back.

    Did they have Honeycrisp apples? Those are my favorite.

    October 19, 2011
    • I didn’t see Honeycrisp, but the name sounds delicious. I never knew there were so many kinds of apples. I’ll kerp my eye open for that kind, too.

      I love Busch Gardens, too. I can’t do rides due to my back, but I love to walk around there and see the shows. It’s a very attractive park. I haven’t been in years and years, either. It’s too far to get passes or make a last minute decision to go. King’s Dominion is close enough to be worth going for a few hours, if you have passes.

      October 20, 2011
  3. We have nothing like that down here, but it reminds me of autumn in Switzerland and drinking fresh apple cider. Yum. Must go buy some apples today!

    October 19, 2011
    • That makes me sad for you Texans – I just love the mountains. Then again, your region has it’s attractions that we don’t have. I would love to see a desert, or a wide open sky with no trees blocking the view, or a canyon…

      October 20, 2011
  4. You do live in the perfect location! When I was younger I always wanted to live in Sacramento, CA, because I wanted to be within reach of the Pacific Ocean, the Sierra Nevada mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, deserts, and big cities. I think I would love where you live.

    As for apples, sixteen pounds!!! It probably says a lot about me that when I read that, I wondered what it would be like to eat eleven pounds of apples all at once. Impossible, I know, but that’s where my mind went. I used to eat so many apples in one “sitting” that I would get sick. I loved them that much. I’m not sure I can eat apples in moderation, and to be in an apple orchard might blow a fuse.

    October 19, 2011
    • Sometimes I look around and see a town that’s overcrowded with strip malls and billboards and every thing you find in every typical city. Other times I see the colonial charm, the Civil War history, the natural beauty… I can’t make up my mind if I love it or dispise it. Mostly it’s love.

      Apples are my favorite fruit, but I can’t eat enough to make me sick :). 16 pounds is a lot, but they are so fresh that they last for weeks. Even so, I’m encouraging my parents to eat them up while I’m with them this week. Mostly, I got carried away with the fun. But we won’t let and go to waste!

      October 20, 2011
  5. vicki #

    That was so much fun! I love honeycrisps too that was the first question I asked my sister when we decided to go there. Michelle you pictures are wonderful and your story made me relive the trip all over again. I love reading your blogs.

    October 22, 2011
    • It was super fun! I get nervous about the pictures because they aren’t as good as you think, but you’re a great friend to think it! Also, I’m glad you like the words, too – I wanted it to be a nice remembrance for us. Next year, I’ll just say, “here read what I said before.”

      October 22, 2011
  6. vicki #

    Oh and I have lots of apples too. I think we have eaten 5 of them. I am going to attempt to make applesauce, I will let you know how that goes.

    October 22, 2011
    • HaHa! I haven’t eaten an apple since Tuesday! And when I got home, I saw apples in my fridge, that I had forgotten about buying – Fuji and Rome.

      October 22, 2011

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