I was really excited to drive the family up out-of-town for the day. I wanted to get Pixie out of the house off her PC and with out cell phone reception. She panicked with no bars. It was very funny to me, but then again I am an ahole. We have been so home bound lately due to life and just being. I know you know what I mean. If you don’t quick detail – wake up, take care of animals, eat, off to school for Pix, work, some cleaning in there, Pix home from school, errands if any, dinner, walk the dogs 2 miles, bed.
Thats it. Day in and day out. Absolutely nothing else, no stimulation no brain relaxing nothing. Why? We suck and life just happened ahead of us this year a little. I am really trying to change that one little adventure at a time. The walking was the newest venture and its going really well. So in my earlier musings about Apple Time, I told the fam we were doing this no questions no complaints.
So Lets visit Hillcrest together shall we?
Ellijay Ga. is nestled into the mountains backing up to the Chattahoochee National Forest. As you drive up you are unaware that you are actually climbing, it’s a slow grade from the Dawsonville area. We saw a ton of bike riders (the Harley and Schwinn kind) making the trek along the winding country roads coming and going. The ride is really beautiful. I was not able to enjoy it as much as my passengers but even so I felt so relaxed winding around those curves and passing under canopies of beautiful oaks and pines.
Hillcrest comes up on you quick once passing several large farms. The driveway is a little confusing. Once you see the big out building and Hillcrest sign continue on slowly just past and there is a pull in on your left to the main parking lot. It’s not huge maybe hosting 50 cars at most. When you park you walk into the main building, and this is the actual apple store. There are all sorts of goodies you would expect to find. Apples of all the varieties grown, baskets, books, jams jellies preserves, pies, fritters and every apple device you can think of. Negative – The baby bear announcing your arrival. I don’t like bears, I am fascinated by Taxidermy but this just made me sad. Right next to it, a living honeycomb with the warning – Please Do Not Open. Real bees again caged and looking sad. Hundreds of kids tapping the glass and people wonder why Bees are disappearing.
Some positives. It’s not huge and has a really quaint comfy feel. You can smell it about a mile back. The pies and fritters remind you that you are starving. Eat first. Otherwise you will be super grouchy whiney and miserable out in the orchard. The pies are more turnover style. I guess this is easier than Granny’s old fashioned. The fritters are GYNORMOUS and you have to share.
Once you are sugar dosed and ready to roll.. head out the side to the main area. Take CASH CASH CASH. You can’t buy tickets to the Orchard any events or the food (hotdogs bbq) outside with debit/credit cards.
So this is where it gets sticky. Hillcrest supports itself on this so as you can imagine EVERYTHING has a dollar amount which they don’t tell you on the website. The 5$ admission is not a picking fee it’s just to get in. Bags range from 4-6-9$ on up. A four dollar bag will hold about two large Delicious variety apples. The smaller varieties like Fuji about 4-6. Their small bags and you must buy them to pick. So plan a little here. If you are taking a few small children.
1- Eat before or get a snack inside FIRST.
2- Bring lots of water and be mindful there are TWO bathrooms here. One inside a porta potty out in the parking lot.
3- Everything costs money. Hay ride $ Petting zoo $ Picking $ Food $ Kids Play Area $ Now granted its only 2$ 3$ here and there but if you are taking a few people you can imagine that adds up quickly.
It was hot we wandered around and then opted to buy some apples in the store. I will say I got two extremely large bags for next to nothing. I also picked up a gorgeous hand-made basket for my knitting (again this was super cheap and an amazing find).
The orchards are beautiful and there are many buildings to investigate and learn from. It was a little overcrowded for me . Every inch of the main area with stage and kids play place was smothered with screaming crying children. Thought – if you have small children go early in the morning. Its cool the animals are more lively and it’s less crowded. You can get some good picking in and do activities before they wear out and your nerves go on protest. I love children I really do, but watching how miserable these 3-4 years olds were made my ovaries fall out my butthole. There was absolutely no peace and I don’t mean that again to be a bash against these parents, but they looked ten times more uncomfortable and ready to head to Migraine Land.
Pixie is the same way. When she’s hungry she can be a bear. We had a cold hotdog (cooking areas outside not so great), and some AMAZING cold cider. Once fed her mood improved. We wandered a bit more and decided to duck out from the screaming. Apples and baskets bought we stopped by a roadside stand selling latte and boiled peanuts. Only in Georgia!
There were little antique stores, quilt shops and some really great stores heading back into Dawsonville. Coffee in hand, headaches going away we laughed chatted and decided on the fate of our apples. The vote was pie and canning !
The over all experience was amazing. We were gone for about 5 hours in total with drive and came home to pizza and salad a nice movie night and some ready to cook fruit!
In cooler weather the hayrides and activities at Hillcrest would be amazing for kids. I say wait until Mid-October. The kids and their tempers will thank you.