There’s no better way to usher in Fall than apple picking (though admittedly, late summer weather has been hanging around). It had been about 2 years since we last went and we definitely missed it (we missed strawberry and peach picking this year too. We’ve been such slackers). This year we tried Masker Orchards up in Warwick, NY and I can’t recall ever visiting an orchard this big that had so many rows of trees and was this prolific with fruit. There were apples everywhere – growing in clusters like grapes on branches, collected on the ground near the base of trees, and piled in every tree hollow. So many apples that they didn’t care if you plucked and ate them right off the branch (though they do briefly look in your car when you exit to make sure you’re being honest about the number of bags your picked). The orchard was like a maze and you needed a map or you risked getting lost and then resorting to leaving a trail of crumbs to find your way back to your car. The good thing about going apple picking this early in the season are the full trees. There’s nothing more disappointing than going late in the season and picking through some sad looking trees. The disadvantage is that there aren’t as many varieties ripe yet.
But what’s with the tailgate parties? Being as huge an orchard as this was, there weren’t any dedicated parking fields, so cars were directed to some of the widest rows for makeshift parking. This would have been fine, but some people decided to park their car anywhere in random places. Mark said it felt like an apple orchard had grown in the middle of a parking lot. I’d never seen a set up like this before and I’m guessing since you can park your car right next to a row of trees in certain areas, tailgate parties somehow became a thing (for those of you who don’t know what tailgate parties are – and why would you unless you’re American because I think this is an American thing? – it’s basically partying with food and booze in a parking lot, usually at a sporting event or a concert, with the back of your vehicle open. Damn, it sounds kind of stupid just typing it out.) We saw groups of families and friends hanging out by their SUVs, trucks and wagons with huge picnic spreads. Sometimes you heard music in the distance. I even saw one dude sitting under an apple tree in a folding lawn chair watching a movie on his laptop (yeah, I dunno). But for as many of these tailgating groups that we saw, we stumbled upon as many rows of trees where we didn’t see another apple picking soul.
When we had filled our bags with apples and decided to go hike back to our car, we did what any other curious person who had never tailgated would do. We popped open the trunk door on our Subaru wagon, sat on the edge and took big gulps of water from our bottles. We sat like that for awhile, shielded from the sun by the shade of the trunk door. Yeah I must admit, it was kind of fun.