I’m sure there are other corn mazes and straw mazes around the country, indeed, around the world, but I’m here to tell you that Portland has an amazing corn maze culture that I don’t remember being here a few years ago – or maybe it’s that I wasn’t into having this much fun back then? Somehow I kind of doubt that but in any case, these days you can find corn mazes everywhere you look, and seemingly in some places you’d never even think of looking. In fact, driving out to one of the largest corn mazes in the area, one passes right by another corn maze just inches from the one you’re going to. Ok, maybe not inches, but it certainly was only a few feet away.
So Saturday was the first day of fall in 2012 – the Autumnal Equinox, September 22nd – and a more perfect day to scramble through a corn maze could not have been found: clear, sunny, low 70s, humidity just right. In other words, what better conditions could there be to spend a gorgeous fall day, the first one of the season, wandering through eight-foot tall corn, trying to find your way out!
The original corn maze at Sauvie Island is 5 acres big, and every year they design a different maze in the corn – a maize maze, if you will. In fact, to differentiate it from other mazes, that’s exactly what they call it: The Original Maize. Clever. Corn. Maize. Clever. Anyway, this year’s maze is a tribute to the Portlandia statue in downtown Portland after which the Portlandia TV program is named. Or not. I’m really not sure, since I’ve never seen the program, although I’ve heard it’s a hoot. The maze is easily recognizable to those who are followers of the program, including such little items as the bird in the center of the maze. You Portlandia fans will know what that means. Look at the photo above – can you see the bird in the center?
I’m a senior citizen these days and the Original Maze only charges five bucks, instead of seven, for us esteemed citizens to get in – perhaps they feel sorry for our old, befuddled brains and it somehow offsets for when they have to come in and look for us! (Wow. I’m not even sure that made any sense…) I also had a coupon for another dollar off, so four bucks, and I’m good to go. Go in and get lost, that is. If you get a phone call from me, it’s not a “drunk call” – it’s a desperate plea for help! Or at least, it’s a call to bring me some Red Vines. Either way. I’m talking desperation here, folks.
We headed into the first part of the maze, amazed at the height of the corn stalks, and took off down the bark dust path – turn right, turn left, go straight ahead. Repeat. Or was it turn left, then go straight, then turn right? I don’t know. But the first part is very short, maybe 15 minutes is all, and probably would be a good maze to let your little kids try out their little hands at maze-ing. Unless, of course, you want to lose them. Then my suggestion is to take them into the second part… and lose them! Ha! I guess we can only wish, right? Hey! Stop that wishing stuff and go catch up with them before they beat you out of the corn!
Finishing up the first part in quick order, we headed over to the second part – a much longer, and far more convoluted maze. In fact, I even cheated a couple of times and grabbed out my little cheater map (an aerial photo of the maze) and saved myself some happy wandering. Or not so happy running around in circles. Even so, taking a turn to the left instead of the right resulted in going into what turned out to be the hand of the Portlandia statue – up one finger and down the next before figuring out that going back up the inside of the elbow was the way to get out.
Finally, after winding around and around, sometimes going straight ahead, climbing up over the tall bridge, passing others going the “wrong” way, stepping around a cob or two lying on the ground, we found ourselves at the end of part two, where we congratulated ourselves, patted ourselves on the back, hooted and hollered at not being lost in the corn forever, and took ourselves off to the Farm Store to look at the produce and buy some tomatoes and check out the size of the zucchini – how loudly can you say “wow – that’s one year’s worth of zucchini relish!”?
All in all, it was a fun afternoon and certainly a nice way to spend the first day of fall. Indeed, Portland is a-mazing!
There are corn mazes that are only open at night for that haunted corn feeling, and mazes that come complete with festivals attached or some other events like hay rides or barnyard animal petting zoos. No matter which one you go to (and you really should go!), it’s bound to be fun!
Check out some of the corn mazes in Portland:
Portland Pumpkin Farm – designed just for you Oregon Ducks fans out there!
Let me know if you want to try one of them out – I’d love to do another maze!