Green Bluff: A touch of country:
One of Spokane, Washington’s hidden gems is a gorgeous plot of farming country known as Green Bluff. Green Bluff is made up of beautiful hilly countryside dotted by prolific orchards and scenic vineyards. Located several miles north of Spokane, one can drive in an approximately twenty mile loop in which one can visit most of these rustic farms and enjoy the wide open spaces, the hay-bale obstacle courses, and even pick the fruit as it comes in season. I remember many a field trip to the “pumpkin-patch” as a kid…always located in Green Bluff. Now that I home-school, I find a reason to make a trip to a Green Bluff farm every few months or so.
It was to this little slice of paradise that we decided to meet the kids’ cousins for a summer afternoon of cherry picking and playing in the “pea pit”.
What’s the “pea pit“? You ask. I asked my sister-in-law that exact question. I had been to several of the local farms around Green Bluff, but I had never been to the “pea pit” or “pea box”, as it is known at the farm.
The “Pea Box” is simply a large sandbox-like area filled with dried peas. Kind of a cross between a “ball pit” and a sandbox, the “pea box” is soft and lumpy like a ball-pit, but you can play with toys and things with wheels in it like a sandbox. It is brilliant!
I was intrigued with the idea….and I had never even heard of it, so I jumped at the opportunity to explore a new area of Green Bluff.
Cherry – picking…
We met at Walter’s Fruit Ranch, a farm located on the south end of the Green Bluff loop. I was excited to spend some time with our extended family, introduce the boys to the “pea box”, and…pick cherries.
You simply cannot drive all the way out to Green Bluff, “pea box” or not, and not get/pick the fruit that is in season. Cherries– to me– are the ultimate in summer fare. Cherry season doesn’t last very long either–and they’re horrifically expensive in the grocery stores. So we waited at the front of the gift shop, and before long, we had all piled into a large, seated, tractor-driven, wagon. It took all of about seven minutes or so to get to the cherry trees, which were still filled with the sweet, juicy fruit.
Our driver directed us to the trees, informing us that the lighter, smaller cherries were the tart, “pie” cherries. Further down were the darker and larger, bing cherries. And on the other side of the path grew the lapins– a dark cherry, but not quite as sweet as the “bings”. Bags and buckets lie on the ground at the bottoms of the trees, just waiting to be filled.
The kids lost no time in grabbing a bucket or a bag and picking whatever fruit was within reaching distance. I took a bucket and headed for the lighter, pie cherries, as they hung a bit higher on the trees. I could see my boys picking what they could, and sometimes trying one or two. Finally, when they tired of picking, the boys just enjoyed climbing into the relatively low branches.
Loaded with about nine pounds of delicious cherries, we headed back to the shop on foot with our bounty.
Finally…the “Pea – Box!” and then some…
Oh…I almost forgot! We had almost bypassed the “pea box”!
We walked through an area of picnic tables, and finally came upon the coveted “pea box”…!
It was all we had expected…for the kids, mainly…They jumped and rolled in it, making “pea-angels”, and taking turns burying each other in the dry peas. And that was not all…
Beyond the “pea box” was not only a small petting farm and “pallet” maze, but also a multi-level, two-story slide! It was one of those hand-made contraptions that was basically an obstacle course on the way up — and a huge shaft of ribbed tubing to slide through on the way down. It was awesome…!
And for a moment, I had to stop myself from following the kids up the “scaffolding” to test it out…So….between the cherry-picking, the “pea box”, and the “fun zone”; it turned out to be an extremely fun afternoon.
Although, at the time of this writing, the cherries have reached the end of their short season; not to worry. Peaches are here now! They are next for picking on the agenda…