An outing to Cornbelly’s Maze

“So when are we going to go to the corn maze?” Link asked. It was a long familiar question as it had been asked periodically and with increasing frequency since the beginning of September. Today I finally had an answer the kids liked.
“Today. As soon as chores are done.” Chores got done quickly.

The local Cornbelly Maze is a field of corn planted in a maze pattern. Visitors are invited to get lost amongst the stalks. These days there is far more going on than just the maze. A whole fair of games and activities are set up around the entrance and after dark be-costumed spooks haunt the maze and some of the other attractions. We did not go during haunted hours. They are more expensive and some of our kids are too young to appreciate a good scare.

There is always a moment at the beginning of a family outing when I wonder if it was a good idea. We’d just arrived, passing the solid block of construction traffic on the other side of the freeway, giving us a clear picture of how fun the return trip would not be. Gleek wanted to wait in line for jumping pillows. Kiki and Link wanted to be turned loose. I realized that I’d forgotten to bring the third cell phone so I was uncomfortable letting them loose in this unfamiliar place. It all felt chaotic and crowded. Within an hour we had all settled in, and fun was had.

Most of the time Howard does not come along on these activity jaunts to public places. Crowds and chaos wear on him. However, on the day I asked who would be interested in going to the corn maze this year, his half-sheepish hand joined the others in the air. Having two adults meant we could split into two groups. This proved to be a good thing. We regrouped and split up several times during the course of our stay. The process was greatly simplified by cellphones. I love cellphones for the simple reduction of stress in crowded places. At one point Patch was not where we expected him to be. Howard was able to call me the moment he was found.

Many of the games were sponsored. Gleek’s favorite was the river chute where kids could pan for gemstones like miners searching for gold. A booth nearby sold little bags of gem-filled mud, but Gleek discovered that small shards of gems were present in the small gravel at the bottom of the water chute. Hers was a true treasure hunt, finding chips of blue, green, and yellow in the dross that others threw away. She carefully put them in her pocket to bring home.

Gleek also collected cobs of dried corn from the stalks as we wandered through the maze. She had an armful before we were done. At first she offered them to all the people we passed. She wanted to share her treasure, but either these folk already had their own corn or they weren’t interested in carrying corn. Failing to give the corn away, Gleek tried using cobs of corn to mark our winding path through the maze. Link was our guide, since he’d gone through the maze previously. We wended our way through some loops and found Gleek’s corn marker again, at which point Gleek lost faith in her brother’s directional sense and began to feel truly lost. She began picking off kernels of corn as we walked leaving a little trail. This tactic would have been more effective if all the paths were not already littered with corn kernels. We found our way out, but Gleek enjoyed picking off the kernels so much that she did not stop until she had a bare cob.

A couple of our neighbors were also there. This added an extra layer of fun for my two youngest kids because they had familiar friends with which to play. It was fun for me too. I got brief moments of visiting and we were able to re-group kids according to interest. Co-operative parenting makes many things easier. It fell to my lot to accompany Gleek, Patch, and Bestfriend through an inflatable monster. It was a winding path, designed to be dark and ominous. Bestfriend and Patch were both interested and intrigued by the thumping heartbeat and the staccato drums. Gleek did not like it at all. I put a hand on her back and guided us through by the light of my cell phone.

The evening ended with everyone selecting a last thing. Patch and Link went off to jump. Gleek found the princess playground where she danced on a stage, climbed atop a sparkling horse, and wore a princess dress. Kiki elected to sit on a bench with me and finish off the last of the french fries. We agreed that we were both quite hungry and more fried sounded very appealing. Unfortunately the food prices were what one might expect at a fair and so we remained wistful. However Kiki and I were able to entertain ourselves by watching the guy across from us who was a dead ringer for Waldo from the Where’s Waldo books. All he needed was a striped shirt and a backpack.

I expected crankiness and squabbling from kids on the way home, but there was none. They all sat quietly, watching out the windows as we wended our way home on back roads. It took us almost an hour to arrive home, but it was much prettier than being parked in the mess on the freeway. Everyone agreed that the outing was a complete success. We capped it with an episode of Mythbusters and all the kids went to bed happy.