This morning, as I was poking around in some older entries (something I like to do from time to time since my long term memory has the capacity of a seive, and I like to remind myself of when things happened) and I stumbled across a reference to the trip we took last year, and it suddenly struck me that this weekend is the one we'd set aside for this year's pilgrimage.
Every year I go around in circles in my head whether or not it is worth it to do this, since it is so far away, and we only ever go to a few places, and if one looks at it in purely logical terms, it really makes no sense at all to drive that far just for some caramel apples and some pie. But even the most logical and scientific of us can be struck dumb by the overwhelming drive to maintain a tradition, and besides, those are the best damn caramel apples ever, and also some pretty amazing pie. And also we are running low on mulling spices and there is only one place I have ever found mulling spices that I absolutely adore, and that is up in Apple Hill. So I zipped off to wake up Richard, and off we headed to Apple Hill.
It is sometimes hard to predict when would be the best time to go. If you go too early in the season, it's really warm up there, and crowded. If you go too close to Halloween and don't get there right when places are opening, the crowds can be unbearable. If you go too late in the season most of the ranches have shut down, unless they're selling Christmas trees, and you miss out on all the good stuff. So we always eyeball the calendar and try to figure out how to avoid the crowded times, yet still work it in on a day when it'll be cold enough, not too crowded, and oh yes, on a weekend where we actually have nothing planned.
This year I think we hit it a little late. The weather was perfect - cold and sunny, and even a little bit of snow on the ground in a few spots, and there weren't many crowds, but on the other hand, a number of the sites we occasionally visit had already closed for the season, and the number of craft booths was much smaller than we're used to. Nevertheless, our quest for perfect apple goodness was fulfilled. We bought caramel apples (and saved them for later because we were still too full from breakfast on the way up). We checked out all the varieties of apples and decided to give the Pink Ladies a try; and liked them so much we ended up buying a huge bag of them for later snacking (and possibly also to be turned into apple-date butter in the crockpot, if I can get around to doing all the prep work beforehand to get that started). We even bought one of those little gadgets that peels, slices, and cores the apple all at once because it occurred to me that this would lead to a higher likelihood of getting apples into the crockpot and the dehydrator if we could prepare them faster (and it also might lead to more pies too).
We got our pie, swimming in warm cider sauce and topped with a huge mound of vanilla ice cream, although this year we finally wised up and bought only one to share, instead of buying one each and being unable to finish it, even though we would stuff ourselves uncomfortably full in the trying. And we also got our mulling spices, since luckily that place was still open (although that is where we also saw most of the snow).
So now there are apples on the counter, and caramel apples in the refrigerator for later (possibly breakfast tomorrow, because what else would start the day just right than tart, crunchy apple covered in buttery caramel?), and the next time either of us goes to the grocery store, there will be cider to mull on the stove one evening this week, perhaps to accompany a little holiday decorating if we can get around to it.
Tis the season for Holidailies