Corn Maze

One of the regular vendors we buy from at Farmer’s Market, Swank Farms, started posting flyers for their “Great Corn Maze” at their stall since August. We regularly buy corn from them and frequently, their tomatoes, peas, cantaloupe, salsa and garlic.

We drove down to Hollister to check it out on Saturday. Apparently it’s part of their annual fall harvest/Halloween festivities; they also have a haunted house, a petting zoo of farm animals, and a pumpkin catapult (ingenious use for retired satellite dishes. $2 a shot, or 3 shots for $5.)

The Great Corn Maze is no more and no less than its name. A field of corn, high as an elephant’s eye, planted in the pattern of the maze, with 3-4 foot wide paths left clear. The stalks are thickly settled so that you can’t see through the other side of the hedge; although many stalks were knocked down, probably by people stumbling in the dark. (The maze is also open at night.)

In contrast to the monotony of corn (there were no other plants cultivated in the maze, save a few straggling weeds and a squash or two that crept in.); there were an amazing diversity of bugs: ladybirds, squat little orange and black caterpillars, different types of flies, and other six-legged critters. Not enough of them to really pester us, just enough to let you appreciate insects in some of their variety.

The maze covers X acres, most of it in a circle, but on the western edge, there’s a (mostly) one-way path that spells SWANK FARMS 2994. Which is pretty neat, “Hey, we’re going along the spine of the ‘K’.”

For the $8 admission fee, you also get a map of the maze, which also is also marked with 21 spots for you find throughout the maze. You find your way to each site in the maze, where there’s a sign with the name of a type of pumpkin, gourd or Indian corn. You mark down the name and site number on your map. Each site is posted with a helpful “You are here” map; if you’re lost, you can navigate you navigate yourself from that point. We made use of it the one time we got lost (We missed a turn.)

In a way, it wasn’t as adventuresome as I expected. Maybe it was because Joe and I are such competent navigators, we figured our way around pretty easily. If we were map-illiterate, it would be more challenging. There is an escape route, aptly dubbed Chicken Alley, which cuts straight from the center to the exit. Looking down the alley, the distance looks so short, in comparison with the meandering path we walked through the maze. The maze is good family fun, maybe more for older kids, than younger ones.

By the way, avoid Maui Tacos at all costs (in Gilroy.) We tried it and . . . well, let’s just say you know it’s BAD when you hear one salesdude at an outlet store tell the other, “That Maui Tacos is awful . . .”

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