“Terry wants to know if you’d be interested in attending a corn maze.”
Fortunately for Byl and his man Terry, a corn maze is one of many things in which I am interested, which includes but is not limited to:
- eyebrow maintenance
- Game of Thrones fan fiction
- pudding cups
- vintage stationery
I accepted their invitation to drive to the corn maze, and I got started thinking about what I was going to wear.
We ended up going on Saturday, which was rainy and a little cold. In the car, we decided to go to the Cracker Barrel in Gurnee for lunch. As much as we wanted to wait 35 minutes browsing oversize candy canes and testing the University of Illinois rocking chairs on the porch before we got to drink sweet tea and inhale chicken fried steak, we also wanted to eat in a timely fashion and get to the corn maze before it got too late. So we went to Golden Corral instead.
I’ve never been to a Golden Corral before. I don’t know if you have either. These are some thoughts I had:
- Golden Corral advertised an upcoming Veterans Day special where veterans eat free, and you may or may not be doing so in the company of Steppenwolf founder and Forrest Gump actor Gary Sinise.
- There is a literal corral you must walk through in order to get to the register, where you pay for the meal before you sit down.
- Of the three plate colors available, my favorite was the green.
- White people appeared to be in the minority at this particular location. I think most of the White people looking for lunch in the shadow of the Great America theme park next door were at the Cracker Barrel, or possibly Timothy O’ Toole’s.
- The dude manning the grill looked intense and not totally unattractive but I sensed there was a story there that I was not interested in hearing. Our one exchange was limited to me asking for steak, he asking me which temperature I wanted, me replying “Medium, please!” and ended with him dropping meat on my plate.
- I think “dropping meat on my plate” would make a funny if gross euphemism for sex.
- I remember trying: fried okra, corn, mashed potatoes with gravy, plain spaghetti with butter, fried shrimp, mystery pudding that ended up being banana. I drank root beer and Pepsi.
- Terry: “Is that fish?” Byl: “No, it’s pizza.”
- While we were there the restaurant played host to several large parties made up mostly of women celebrating the graduation of at least one in their party.
- Who graduates from school in October? That’s what Byl wanted to know.
We took a scenic route to the corn maze, located at Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove. Terry drove while Byl and I tried to get good snaps of the fall foliage. Which is hard when the foliage in question is about a mile away from you, sitting in a moving car and working with an iPhone.
The corn maze at Richardson Adventure Farm claims to be the largest in the world. The maze had several paths cut through it, so that from the air you can see a picture. Every summer there is a different theme. This year’s was in celebration of the 200th anniversary of “The Star Spangled Banner”.
Inside the maze, I felt no swell of patriotism as I tried not to fall in the mud or injure myself with an errant corn cob. It’s not like they rigged hidden speakers to play the song while you made your way through. Mainly we checked the ground for the remains of illicit activity, or took pictures of ourselves looking fresh-faced in the corn. We walked away from the direction of the laughter of unaccompanied children, and stumbled onto the Christmas tree farm.
We were adorable.
In addition to the maze, you could Zorb (I’ll leave it to you to figure it out), ride a zip line (as long as you weighed at least 70 lbs. but no more than 250 lbs.), eat junk food, pick out pumpkins, pet animals, jump on air pillows, fling pumpkins off the top of a 90-foot tower, or slide down a very steep hill.
We instagrammed pretty much every moment that we weren’t eating, as you do.
When we stopped to get a funnel cake and a corn dog, we observed a bossy lady yelling at her boys to behave themselves while she placed her order. She had a lot of questions for the girls making the food. She ignored her husband who looked at us sheepishly as if to say “Sorry my wife’s taking so long with her yelling.” It was fine. I learned a long time ago that if you’re behind someone wearing Crocs that are two sizes too big and a grim expression, you give them all the room they need.
At top of the slide, Byl and I watched children take a running leap and then land on their backs seemingly halfway down before skidding to a stop just short of the muddy patch where parents stood taking pictures. Like the old people we were, Byl and I carefully positioned ourselves at the top, sitting and staring at the ground below. We had planned to slide down together but then Byl slipped and went first, hollering, fists raised in the air. I thought about chickening out, but then my ass found itself sliding over the edge, and I lay back, closing my eyes, and yelling as loud as I could.