If you like giant puzzles, you'll love being told to 'get lost'
Have you ever been driving in a faraway city with your parents, and one of them suddenly says, "Uh-oh. I think we're lost." Maybe your dad starts to turn the car right, but your mom yells, "No, no, no! Left! Go left!"
And then you get even more lost? (And your dad gets really grumpy?)
You might not believe this, but one time I was lost for two hours! I wasn't in a car. I was hiking through a giant field of corn out in the country. And it was totally fun!
A farmer who owns a cornfield in Sterling, Mass., decided to make a cool game for all the people who come to visit his farm. He wanted them to have fun getting lost. So he made a maze.
A field maze is a giant puzzle you walk through. Farmer Larry Davis made the maze by cutting long, winding paths through the corn. To solve the puzzle, you have to walk along the paths until you find the middle of the field. The Davis family calls it a "megamaze," because it has more than two miles of paths.
It sure isn't easy to solve this maze. The paths are crazy! They go every which way, curving and bending, back and forth, like a big pile of spaghetti. If you were to get in an airplane and fly over the maze, you might see the shapes of two dragons, Cedric and Cecelia, playing together. (See photo.)
But from the ground, "it's just you, the crop, and the sky," Farmer Davis says. When my daughter and I visited, the corn had grown 10 feet high - taller than the ceiling in our house. We couldn't tell where we were going. It was fun getting lost - and a little scary, too. But we heard "Star Wars" music playing from some speakers, and that made us feel brave.
Farmer Davis says this maze is so tricky, even really smart grown-ups have trouble solving it. It's taken some people four hours. The fastest time, he says, was an hour and a half.
YOU can get help along the way. At the entrance, a worker gave us a 10-foot pole with a red flag at the end. If you get desperate, he said, wave your flag high in the air. The "maze masters" will see it. They are the people standing on tall lookout bridges. They can give you directions.
"Keep going! Turn left, then two rights, then left again!" we heard one maze master yell to someone.
You can also get help by speaking into long plastic pipes. The pipe connects you to a maze master.
One young man and woman we passed looked awfully tired. "Help! We need help-help-help!" they yelled into the pipe. Their voices made a funny echo down the tube, like they were talking under water.
One neat thing about this kind of maze is that there aren't any rules. Kids and grown-ups can both decide which way to go, and anyone's guess could be right.
At one point, we got stuck in a loop. We kept passing by the same trash can over and over.
"This way!" said my daughter. "No! This way!" I said. We were both wrong.
After a while, I realized we needed to do a better job remembering where we'd just been. In mazes, you often hit a lot of walls, or dead ends. And then you have to go back. It helps to remember which way you came, go back carefully, and then pick a new path. It's called "retracing your steps." Like Hansel and Gretel, maybe we should have dropped bread crumbs behind us. (No, that would have been cheating.)
Pretty soon, the path looked different. "Hey! We've never been this way!" I said. And before we knew it, we had found a bridge. It was exciting to climb up high over the waving corn tassels and see the whole field. I couldn't believe we were way over on the other side.
Farmer Davis was on this bridge, helping people. So we asked him to give us some hints. "Take two rights, then stay to the left. You'll be in the dragon's eye. Then you should be able to find the center of the maze on your own."
I gulped. I wasn't sure I believed him.
But he was right! We finally found the path that led to the big square patch of grass in the middle of the maze. Hooray! The center! We both were jumping up and down. (Most everyone yells and jumps around a bit when they find the middle. Except maybe those who are just too tired and thirsty.) We felt great - like real maze detectives. An "exit" sign led us to the "victory bridge," and boom, we were out.
I was glad we didn't have to go back the way we came!
* Davis's Megamaze, 142 Redstone Hill, Sterling, Mass. The maze is open through Nov. 1, weekends and Columbus Day only. Call for hours and prices: (978) 422-8888; Web site: www.davisfarmland.com