The world seems so much larger when you're too young to drive. I was 14 when we moved from Michigan to El Paso, Texas, so I had never gotten behind the wheel of a car and truly learned how to navigate myself around the Ypsilanti, Milan and Ann Arbor areas. Visiting friends was a drive away, as our house was beyond a bike ride.
Of course, certain patterns would become more familiar. The way to George Allan Elementary School on the school bus, or the short drive to Meijer's Thrifty Acres or the Exhibit Museum on the University of Michigan campus with my mom.
When you're a kid living in a rural area, the street names become less important than just the route that you take. Familiar trees, houses or dogs at homes become your waypoints.
But one place in my kid-size world that I would journey out to solo was Wiard's Orchards. Wiard's was probably only a mile-and-a-half from our house. A bumpy bike ride up the dirt-and-stone Crane Road, left turn at the open field (Merritt Road), and continue on. Wiard's on the left. No need to lock up my bike.
Wiard's was one of those places that seemd to stand still in time. Of course, I was unaware of that at the time, but looking back, I realize that it could have been 1920 or 1978. Apple cider (sweetened, of course!) was pressed right there and a sugar or cake doughnut (also made right there) would match it perfectly. Small farmer's market with produce inside. Pick-your-own apples in the orchard. Some of my great memories of Wiard's was picking apples in September with my mom and dad.
A few years ago, on a return visit, I drived by Wiard's, but it was closed for the day. Disappointment! I'm traveling back to Michigan in a few months and will try again.
Wiard's Orchards is on the web! I guess time does change some things, but then again, it still looks pretty much the same! Wiard's Orchards