By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
Fall is an excellent time to experience shunpiking. If you plan to take any of the backroads that you are not familiar with, be sure to have a good backroads map. We like the DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer series. Pick a nice day when the weather suits your desire. You might enjoy a nice sunny warm day, or you might prefer a cool day with the feeling of fall in the air. Regardless of the day you pick, everywhere you turn, there is something to enjoy about the season.
Here are some things you can try on your journeys. Please note that the web site links may not include all orchards, pumpkin patches, etc. They are merely a starting point for your planning.
Shunpike your way to an apple orchard. You might already have a favorite local orchard, or you might want to try a new one. Buy some fresh apples to snack on. Buy extra to bake an apple pie, make some apple fritters, or cook up some homemade applesauce. If you don’t bake, many of the orchards have a bakery where you can buy a premade pie. Don’t forget to treat yourself to an apple cider doughnut or a caramel apple.
Take a drive to a pumpkin farm and pick out some pumpkins. Some farms give you a horse-drawn or tractor wagon ride out to the pumpkin patch to pick the biggest pumpkin you can carry. Maybe you’ll find a farm with a pumpkin catapult or corn cannon. Farms usually have other items for sale including winter squash, mums, straw bales, corn shocks for decorating, and other fall gift items. Pumpkin Patches and More
Locate a corn maze and see if you can find your way through it. Don’t worry that you’ll be lost until the corn is harvested. You’ll be given a tall flag so that spotters know your whereabouts. They also offer you clues to assist you in finding your way through and some mazes offer prizes for solving puzzles while you navigate the maze. Many are open evening hours for moonlight or haunted maze experiences. Corn Maze Directory
Enjoy the colors of fall foliage. Notice the different colors in the farm fields. In early autumn, the corn starts turning from green to gold, and the soybeans turn a bright yellow before they fade to gold and finally a deep brown at harvest time. Stop at a park or a trail and take a hike in the woods. Listen to the fallen leaves as they rustle beneath your feet. (Don’t forget to stop at the park office and get a trail guide. Some of the trails are long and strenuous and the park staff will help you pick an appropriate trail for your hike.) Many states have fall color updates. Here is the Wisconsin Fall Color Update site. Wisconsin Fall Color Update
As you drive, watch the harvested farm fields for groups of Sandhill Cranes. The cranes begin to gather together in late summer in preparation for fall migration. In Wisconsin, it’s possible to find groups of several hundred cranes foraging in a field. The best times to see the cranes are early morning or late afternoon. If you find a flock of cranes, pause and watch the group to see if the cranes will dance for you.
Whatever you decide to do this year to celebrate Autumn, be safe and Happy Shunpiking!