Recognizing today as probably one of the last "best weather" days of the fall, my spouse and I decided to venture out West, as we usually do when its time to "go outside and play". Destination: The Corn Maze in The Plains Virginia. Located just off of I-66 and Route 601, this working farm promises one of the top corn mazes in the D.C. area. It also boasts thousands of pumpkins (42 cents a pound), a "barnyard" of fun, plenty of kettle corn, and of course hayrides. The absence of progeny does not discourage us from visiting places such as these, after all, there is a kid in all of us wouldn't you say?
The Corn Maze is a fairly unassuming place. There's the quintessential farm wagon in all its pumpkin-y regalia. If it were in a cartoon, next to it would be a flashing marquee with an arrow saying "take photo here".
Guests enter through a barn filled with farm-oriented products like apple juice, vinegar, apple butter, etc. On the other side is a "barnyard" filled with pumpkins, gourds, and other manner of squash.
No farm would be complete without mammals of the porcine persuasion. There is of course a pig named Wilbur, although I'm not sure if this is the right one.
There are also some chickens, several goats and a few sheep.
Goats are really cute. And this goat is obviously happy. Why else would she be smiling?
I did not picture them here, because you really must see them in person, the barnyard features 3 "red bats." And that's all I'm gonna say about that.
After petting the animals we headed toward the maze. We were told to attend "cornientation" to get ourselves familiar before taking it on. He was about to begin and he asked that I ring the cowbell calling others to gather 'round. Apparently I did a good job, because loads of folks came over. As expected, there were plenty of corn "puns". The speech was peppered with gems like, "the map pieces are cornected together", "if you get into trouble, the corn cops will come to your aid", and "there are cornsequences for breaking the rules." (Groan...) The idea is to make your way from start to finish, find seven blue wooden stands with map sections drawn on them, directional hints in the form of trivia questions, and do try not to get lost. Basic rules (all of which we saw being broken without any of those cornsequences we heard about) include no blazing your own trail, don't pick the corn, and if you must bring your dog, keep your four-legged friend on a leash.
At 4:30pm, the late sun in the sky, we set forth, blue banner on a bamboo pole in hand, which, we were instructed, we were to wave frantically if we became hopelessly lost or otherwise completely panicked. Naturally, we city-slickers had visions of lush green stalks 8 feet tall. But apparently there was a drought this year (Farmer's Almanac anyone?), thus we faced very dry, crunchy shoots (No smoking please!) averaging about five and a half feet. No matter, being barely over five feet tall myself, I still managed to be eye to eye with husky goodness most of the time.
We were given a blank map outline and a crayon. (I chose Cornflower, what else?). There are seven points at which you are to answer a maze-themed trivia question. A correct answer will lead you in the right direction towards the next stand. Its not as easy as it sounds. Some of the trivia questions are from 3rd grade science, some only an FFA member would know (how many eggs does a hen lay a year?), and some, well, sometimes you want to ask the nearest kid what the heck it means. Once at the stand, you are also gifted with a portion of the map which you obtain by laying the blank map outline over a section of wood on the stand and rubbing the crayon over it. But that's not much help either if you forgot to ask which way the map was "corniented". (Oh, gosh, now I'm doing it...)
We felt out of our league when we didn't know what the term for "the fear of chickens" was. Then somehow we found the exit, but we hadn't covered the entire maze yet. So we went back. Then we happened upon Section 2 of the map. Again. The highlight of the day was when we passed a young family of seven. First there was Dad, with a tiny tot on his shoulders pointing the way, followed by 4 "stairstep" little ones, faces painted, all chanting "lets go Malea, lets go!" Mom, who was bringing up the rear, says to us as she passes "we're taking directions from our two-year old!"
We'd only found 4 points, and it was starting to get hot for an October afternoon. After a little over an hour of wandering, and feeling woefully inadequate, we decided the stalks had gotten the best of us, and called it quits. At least we had found the exit once before. We decided we must have inadvertently passed through one of those "cheats" someone created on their own. It was the only explanation given that there's only one way in and one way out. So we went out the way we came in, put our flag away and returned, defeated, to the "cornientation" booth to turn in our crayon.
Luckily we brought food. And beverages. We sat near the pumpkin slingshot with our picnic and watched the sun set in the Western sky. A perfect ending to a perfect day.
Epilogue: My spousal partner and I often engage in "pun wars." Whenever one of us smells defeat, the surrenderer must utter the phrase "You're ugly". This one today started with a benign question about The Corn Maze:
He: "I wonder who owns this place?"
Me: The Maize Family.
He: I bet they're a"maz"ing people.
Me: Yeah, but I heard the one son, you know, he was "Ear"-responsible.
He: I heard the other one was accused of being a "stalk"er....
Me: Well, I don't know if that has a "grain" of truth to it.
Me: Yes, he was quite the "smutty" one. And oh, they had a grandfather who was a "kernel."
Me: And didn't they have an uncle who became a "cob"bler? I think his name was "Cornelius"
Me: Well, in any event, it looks like the whole family "rows" to the occasion.
He: Yes, they have amassed "corn"siderable wealth. "Hominy" other people have managed to do that in this economy?
Me: You're ugly.