Sunday, September 15, 2013

An old-fashioned afternoon at Ravenswood

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Vintage Julie & LliamVintage Julie & Lliam

Ravenswood Apple Orchard, a set on Flickr.

Ravenswood historic site is a little-known landmark in Livermore, formerly the property of Christopher Buckley, a prominent East Bay businessman in the late 19th century. I have known about Ravenswood ever since moving to Livermore and always wanted to go. The problem is that it is open to the public only once a month, and I just didn't manage to make it happen.

Will found out about their annual apple picking event through the Tri-Valley Explorers mailing list, so we decided to ride our bikes over there last Sunday.

It happened to be a pretty hot day (almost 100 degrees), yet Lliam insisted on wearing his ninja outfit (a fleece sweatshirt and jeans) all the way there. Will of course needed to ride in style, on his drift trike.

We arrived just in time to join the orchard tour, where Apple Amy shared some history of the various apple varieties and everyone got to taste. In fact, the picking of the apples was a crowdsourced activity. Not surprisingly, these vintage apples were much smaller and more tart than what you might find at the grocery store. Our favorite was the Red Delicious.

Lliam enjoyed making a couple of "apple slinkies", which you make by placing an apple on a hand-crank machine that cores and slices the apple into one long curly piece. There were a few games, including a "stick & hoop" game that Lliam was actually quite good at. I opted to stay in the shade while and Will played. Lliam also learned what croquet is.

Ravenswood features a couple of structures built by the Buckley family. We went through their "cottage" which consists of four rooms, none of which are a kitchen. The kitchen was in a separate tank house building where the cook lived, apparently to protect the cottage from a fire. The Buckleys later built a separate building for entertaining with a couple of great rooms and a larger kitchen. In the cottage we spotted an old trunk that looks exactly like one owned by Will's parents.

In the tank house, now a gift shop, I spotted a book about the history of Livermore, which I decided to take home as a souvenir. It's fascinating to see what our town used to look like and compare with the modern streetscape.

Back outside, the apple cider-making line had cleared up, so Lliam and I grabbed a few apples to chuck into the grinder. He got to help grind them up and we all tasted the delicious cider that came out.

On the way home I got to ride the trike part of the way. It's equipped with an electric motor and low to the ground, so it was fun to ride.


Holly Hilton said...

Wow! How fun! Autumn is my favorite time of year. So glad you three were able to attend and participate in a bit of history. What year was Livermore established? I could go Google it, but much more fun to find out from you, Jules. :-)

Holly Hilton said...

... and yes it's technically still summer!!