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Wendy Almeida

Wendy Almeida wrote about enjoying the outdoors with kids in her monthly Kid Tracks Outdoors column for the Maine Sunday Telegram for more than 10 years. Her kids have grown up exploring the trails of Maine on foot, skis and bikes as well as through the Geocaching and EarthCache games. The family has found treasures of all sorts while out on the trail and the journey continues to be as much fun now that the kids are teenagers as it was when they were preschoolers. Follower on Twitter @wea1021 and Instagram instagram.com/wea1021

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Posted: September 24, 2014

Headed into a corn maze? 3 ways to ramp up the adventure (plus some survival tips)

Written by: Wendy Almeida
collage-cornmaze

Finding each of the markers in the “passport” trivia game at Pumpkin Valley’s corn maze a few years ago was a fun way to explore the entire maze. There is always one elusive marker that everyone gets stumped on finding. Wendy Almeida photo

Getting lost in a corn maze is not hard to do. Every year I think it will be a quick exploration but it’s never less than an hour to make it through the whole multi-acre brainteaser. And because I have more than a decade of visits under my belt, my family and I have found more ways to enjoy the fall tradition. (If you’re looking for a corn maze near you, check out our list of Maine Corn Mazes.

1. TIME YOUR WALK

You can start at the beginning of the maze with no plans for fun and games. Your only goal is getting back out as fast as possible… without running. Most mazes have a “no running” rule, so this is all about quick decisions and fast-walking. You may decide to offer a prize for the best time from your group.

A race may be most appealing on the days when the maze isn’t hosting a crowd, which is rare on a fall weekend. But, you and your friends can be polite with an “on your left” when you power-walk by, so people won’t be totally annoyed with you. Plus, you’ll get some great exercise, since some of the mazes offer a mile or more of paths to follow.

2. PICK UP THE PASSPORT

You might think the little passports with trivia questions offered at the start of the Pumpkin Valley maze or the scavenger hunt at Harvest Hill are kind of goofy. You’re not wrong. But you’d be surprised how hard it is to actually find every marker in the maze. Or to answer those dang questions. But here’s a tip: The answers to the silly questions are sometimes printed in small type, maybe even upside down, on the bottom of the page to help when you’re stumped (you really may feel the need to take a peek when you’re truly lost in the maze). But knowing the answer isn’t all that helpful at times, because even with the correct first turn, you may be faced with many more navigation decisions to make your way out. You can leave the maze with a sense of accomplishment that you found every numbered marker inside. Don’t mock: It is a proud accomplishment for me, because it doesn’t happen every year.

 

corn-maze-map2

This is one of many attempts my family has made over the years to map one of the corn mazes with our GPS unit or cell phone app. This map from 2008 of Pumpkin Valley was the closest we ever got, which was not even all that close despite the couple of hours we spent inside the maze. Wendy Almeida photo

 

3. MAP YOUR VISIT

Start up that exercise map app on your phone and record your track in the maze. I’ve done this with my kids several times (first with my GPS, then with my cell phone, because I’m a geek like that), and it is super fun. One year, we tried to walk down every path, dead-end or not, to see if we could accurately draw the maze with our mapping program. We never fully replicated even one of the maze designs we’ve attempted over the years. Still, it’s a good time and fun to share the track with friends.

 

OTHER TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT

No matter how you plan to experience the corn maze, keep these tips in mind, especially if you have kids in tow:

* Bring a bottle of water.

* Wear sunscreen.

* Stop at the bathroom before you get started.

* Wear layers.

* The maze can be muddy. Wear old shoes or boots.

*Avoid sibling spats (or spousal ones) by giving everyone a chance to be in charge of making the navigational decisions.

* Bring a sense of humor. This is most important!

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