Monday, October 7, 2013

It's Fall, Y'all: Day Trip to Brevard

Every year we try to do a corn maze/pumpkin patch trip with the kids.  This year, I found a deal for Stingy Jack's Pumpkin Patch on Groupon, and Jay approved since it was near Brevard, so we bought the tickets and planned a day trip.  It was a full day of fun for everyone!

On our way, we made a pit stop in Marion. Jay's Graphics students at MTCC do a mural in downtown Marion a few times a year, so we went by to see it in person.  This is my favorite one so far: huge pumpkins, candy corn, and a cornucopia. The kids loved it, too. Arwen had her picture made with Snoopy and Woodstock, and Wake wanted a picture rolling one of the giant pumpkins. 

After the pit stop in Marion, it was time to head on up to Brevard.  Jay had taken the kids to the toy store there a while back to buy a slot car track (don't ask) and had raved about their downtown. For once, he was right.  Our first order of business was to get lunch.  We weren't sure whether to try out Mayberry's or Rocky's Grill and Soda Shop, so we took the extra time to walk to both and check out their menus.  In the end, we chose to have lunch at Mayberry's and stop in at the Soda Shop later for ice cream because Rocky's was pretty busy.  In the end, it was the right call. At Mayberry's, you walk in, grab a menu, order at the counter, and have a seat.  O. P. Taylor's Toy Store provides toy to occupy the kids while you wait.  We all had sandwiches, and they were to-die-for!  I had a turkey and ham club, and the turkey and ham were slices straight off the Thanksgiving dinner table--no deli meat here!  Jay had a cheesesteak sandwich, and the kids had pb&j.  All of the sandwiches were served on delicious homemade bread--heck, even the peanut butter was homemade!

Our next stop was O. P. Taylor's toy store. Jay had raved about this store since his trip with the kids (I wasn't invited on that trip--he has a history of failing to invite me, or in some cases un-inviting me, on trips).  It really is a great store.  Downstairs, there's a slot car track that Jay and Wake raced on while Arwen and I played with the Calico Critters Luxury Townhouse Set.  Upstairs, Arwen found a shopping cart, which she promptly filled up. There were riding toys, stamps, stuffed animals, a marble maze, and a million other things for the kids to play with.  When we headed back downstairs, Arwen spent some time with the Thomas the train set.  In the end, Wake bought a Lego Minecraft set, and  Arwen got some maracas and a wood block. All in all, a successful trip to the toy store.

After checking out some of the other shops (including The Children's Emporium where all sales go to help abused and neglected children in Transylvania County), we were ready for some ice cream, so we headed back to Rocky's.  The counter was empty this time, so we took the opportunity to let the kids sit at a real soda counter. Even Arwen sat on a stool like a big girl! Jay, Wake, and I got the Black Mountain Brownie Sundae, and Arwen got some choc choc ice cream (and she shared my sundae, of course!).  I had NO IDEA what I was getting into when I ordered that sundae--it was huge! It was also delicious, so we all cleaned our bowls! Check out the before and after shots! lol!

After all our fun in Brevard, it was time to head to Stingy Jack's Pumpkin Patch.  We had never heard of it before finding tickets on Groupon, so we were just hoping for the best!  When we hit a gravel road that made me sorry we took the Jeep instead of the truck, I started to worry, but never fear--all was well in the end.  $5 for parking and trading our Groupon for four wristbands, and we were on our way.  (Arwen was actually free, but it was still cheaper to get the Groupon for four than pay for three regularly priced tickets).

Our first order of business was to take a look around and see what all Stingy Jack had to offer.  There was a hayride, two trails (one spooky, one not), a DJ and dance floor, a Zombie Challenge, several food vendors, a catapult launching pumpkins into the woods, a haystack maze for the kids, a shooting range (BB and paint ball), a human hamster wheel, face painting, and a marshmallow shooting range. In other words, tons to keep you occupied for a while.  Actually, Stingy Jack's doesn't open until 5:30 a lot of their attractions are designed for after dark.  Most activities are included in the ticket prices, but some are a little extra (nothing too extravagant, though).

We did the hayride (which was actually shorter than the time we spent in line--not sure it was really worth it), and Arwen and I did the maze.  Jay and Wake did the Zombie Challenge, which was an extra $2 each, but Wake seemed to enjoy it, and it wasn't too scary (you have to be 10 to enter).  Apparently, it was a series of challenges, like puzzles and obstacles, with live action zombies.  Later, Jay and Wake checked out the Spooky Trail, which Wake assured me was none too spooky, while Arwen and I watched the fire dancers.  The fire dancers were cool, but not as exciting as I'd hoped--maybe we were just too far away from them.  Their show was a bit long for my attention span, too.  Arwen's favorite part was the DJ and dance floor.  There was a dance team that performed a couple of times, but Arwen preferred to do her own dancing.  The dancing was occasionally interrupted to shoot a pumpkin in the woods.  We could see and hear the launcher, but I never once saw a pumpkin.  Jay says they should paint them with glow-in-the-dark paint and launch them at night. Speaking of pumpkins, I think it is important to note that Stingy Jack's Pumpkin Patch is a bit of a misnomer: there weren't any pumpkins to pick or purchase, really.  Just a few that you could buy for kids to decorate with stamps and markers. Not the quality you would want to bring home to carve.

Anyway, I think the highlight of the night for us all was the Twilight Trail.  At first we thought it was just a little 1/4 mile walk through the woods with Halloween lights and come columns of carved and lit pumpkins (see above).  We were wrong.  After crossing the road (they have people to direct traffic), we entered the actual trail.  They had several scenes created out of carved, lit pumpkins--it was super cool! I really think that alone was worth the trip--well, that and watching Arwen dance the night away! Jay really liked how they used multiple pumpkins to create one picture--I'm interested to see how this idea translates to the kids' pumpkins this year! I also liked how the spelled words with the pumpkins--I see a "P" pumpkin in our future! Or maybe three pumpkins stacked to spell out "Boo!" Stingy Jack's pumpkins are not real pumpkins, of course (can you imagine all of those pumpkins rotting? Yuck!), but I think the concept would be the same.

Arwen would have been happy to dance the night away (see below), but we called it a night a little before 10 and were home (with both kids asleep!) by a little after 11.  Jay and I, of course, were exhausted the next day (truth be told, so were the kids!), but it was worth it.  We are thinking of going back next year, and think Jay and I might take a date trip back to Brevard some time soon to check out the waterfalls!