Oct 20, 2011 8:30 PM by Jeanette Trompeter
You can tell it's autumn these days no matter what the weather is doing because pumpkin patches are popping up all over the place.
And this year, there's a new one in San Luis Obispo county that offers a whole lot more than orange gourdes....but bountiful proof there's No Place Like Home.
The 110-acre San Marcos Ranch has been in the Davis family for decades. "This ranch has actually been in our family for close to 40 years now. i moved out here when I was 4 years old." says Dr. Justin David, MD. But this is the first time the Davis' have opened up fall time fun to be found here, to everyone.
There's good reason to take advantage of the open invitation. Because you can do so much more than pick out a pumpkin here. "As a field trip I think this could be one of the greatest field trips i've ever been on so far this year." says 5th grade Daniel States. He and his classmates came here from Bradley Union Elementary for a field trip.
The San Marcos Ranch has pumpkins, for sure. "We've planted more than 23 hundred plants." says Davis. "If each one produces two to three pumpkins we hope to have about 5000 pumpkins." The ranch also has acres of adventures for kids of all ages.
Davis is a doctor in town, but loves sharing the memories of the ranch he grew up on, with anyone open to the wonder of letting your imagination wander. "Welcome to the Lost Dutchman Mine" he warns as he escorts the reporter to the scariest area of the ranch for kids. The Old Dutchman's Mine was created from what was once to be a family wine cellar, but Davis seems to get more joy out of spinning tales for all who dare to enter here now. "Old Dutch went down here about a 100 years ago and has never been seen above ground again. His ghost walks the premises. He's kind of crotchety, speaks only in authentic prairie gibberish, and he likes to throw candy at kids."
The kids seem to love it as much as Davis. Maja Davis came with Daniel's class on the field trip, and couldn't quit talking about the adventure. "You have to shine the flashlight at these spiders, and that's how they go away, and then a bunch of things jump on your head and it's so fun! The ghosts in back were awesome."
Kids also love getting lost in the 9-foot tall stocks of the corn maze that offers more than 2 and 1/2 acres of dead ends. And Davis added a puzzle for the kids as they make their way through. "Each dead end comes with a cartoon character, and each cartoon character has a number, and a letter. On the back side of the map we have a puzzle where kids put the number and letter and cartoon character together and it comes out with a magic secret code." Daniel figured it out pretty quickly and got a prize from "Granny". "I figured out the clues." says Daniel proudly.
Maja seemed to love the quest of just getting through the maze as fast as possible. "It was so fun. We all had to have a partner and sometimes we got lost! It was really fun actually."
Watching the kids is the fun part, says Davis. The family did this as a way to try to hang on to a ranch that holds a lot of family memories. And in sharing it, they're exposing kids to a lifestyle few of them know much about. Many of them have spent little time around agriculture. "We wanted a place where people could come and relax. Not just another pumpkin patch but a place you could come and enjoy with the family, have a picnic, and have a good time." he explains. And they seem to have succeeded in sharing the magic to be found right in our own backyard. "I would totally do this again!" says Maja. "This is so fun. I'm going to totally tell my parents that!
The ranch is open dawn to dusk, through the end of November. For Directions and more information, click here.
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