Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Irvine Park Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkins have been a part of our family's fall tradition for what seems like always, but visiting a pumpkin patch has not. Oh, we took the girls every year when they were little, but shortly after we moved here we became disenchanted with patches when the cool one we liked to visit closed down because of unruly teens. I won't go into details, but apparently it had something to do with inappropriate and even illegal behavior in the corn maze. Jelly was SO disappointed; we kind of avoided pumpkin patches after that because NONE of them had her favorite attraction, the corn maze.

Fast forward to this year. I was recently asked to coordinate activities for our small homeschool support group, Liahona. Our goal is to have two park days and two field trips each month. In order to make that feasible, the field trips need to be mostly relatively low cost, and free is always good! We already had a trip to Griffith Park Observatory planned for later in the month, so something more local seemed to be a good idea for our other October group trip.

Long story short, we decided on a visit to Irvine Regional Park. I'd heard good things about all the fun options it offers, but in our almost-seven-years in Anaheim we'd never checked it out.

We're really glad we did!

As I mentioned, many local pumpkin patches seem to be geared to the younger kids. The Irvine Park Patch is, too, but they have more to offer than the usual. After getting some of the kids to pose for this pic...

... we explored the half-mile trail to the little Orange County Zoo. The Zoo's focus is on animals and plants native to the southwestern United States.

Jelly, her special Liahona friend, and Doodle at the duck pond.

On the trail back, the girls had a great visit with the horses and ponies at the park. You can ride them, for a fee, but just hanging out is free and lots of fun.

Back at the patch, the girls decided to check out the hay bale maze. It wasn't as cool as we hoped (we were duped by a bit of exaggerated advertising), but the haunted house was good for LOTS of laughs.

Doodle plans to scare her sister.

Okay, so they're not scared, but they ARE having fun!

"Let's go do it again! That was cool! Did you see me get them?"

We opted this time not to ride the train, saving it for another visit. Instead, we ended the visit with an informal picnic - each family providing their own version of a yummy lunch. We had a great time because we made our own fun, enjoyed simple pleasures and just being with our homeschool friends, and we made some good memories.

Maybe next fall we'll try another patch - and maybe it'll have a corn maze. Even if it doesn't, I bet we'll be glad we went.

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