It's October and if you live in the Midwest, that usually means it's time to drag out fall gear --sweaters, boots and coats. If you happen to be a Chicago girl that likes to journey into the country once in a while, October also means apple picking time. Typically, I meander over into Michigan to pick apples with my family but when we don't feel like a full 3 hour trip, we head to nearby Indiana.
County Line Orchard in quaint Hobart, Indiana,(lots of corn fields and pick-up trucks) supplies the quintessential apple picking experience.
You start with a short tractor ride to the orchard area of your choice. Despite the popularity of Red Delicious and Granny Smith, there are dozens of apple varieties to choose from. The tart, slightly sweet Gala and Honey Crisp varieties are my favorites.
The orchard brims with apple trees studded with red, yellow and green fruit. But from a distance, it just looks like a vast field of green bushes.
Bright signs identify the apples and ripening dates. My favorite Honey Crisp was ripe in mid September so all of the apples were picked clean from the tree.
I avoid the apples covering the ground or hanging on low branches and prefer to pluck the ones closer to the top. My daughter refuses to pick her favorite Golden Delicious unless she has climbed high enough to snag the biggest prizes.
Roaming down rows of apple trees isn't the only attraction at County Line Orchard. There's fresh kettle corn, carmel apples, apple and pumpkin donuts and hot apple cider to enjoy as well as live music to accompany your grazing. This singer belted out a country-tinged version of "Unchain My Heart". At the end of the day, stuffed with apple donuts and lugging 3 pound bags of apples, I felt offically ready to usher in the fall season.