Death, Taxes, and Fall Foliage
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There are some established and well recognized “certainties and guarantees” in life. Two of the most common are death and taxes. Here in Texas, among educators and their families, there is for sure one more. That is, upon retirement, that teachers WILL take a trip to the northeast United States to see the fall foliage. I do not know if this is a DNA preordained need or if it is written into the fine print of their contract as a requirement of employment. It could just be the curiosity demonstrated by good teachers to learn and experience or it could just be an extreme aberration in statistical probabilities. Whatever the root cause, believe me, the condition is real and widespread. Retire and leaf peep.
And so it was with my educator wife, Grandma Points, and me. When she retired in 2011, after almost four decades of improving the lives of her students, creating lesson plans and straightening desks, The Trip to The Northeast was at the top of our list. I know that it may sound confusing to say a trip is at the top when it actually takes 5 years to accomplish, but we wanted to include Grandma Points’ sister in our trip. She was also a teacher, and we decided to wait until she retired.
We had years to do our homework through the internet, State Travel Guides and from Mommy Points readers. We were well armed and properly prepared when we boarded our flight to Boston on October 8th. We had ascertained that around October 10th was the historical peak for the leaves in some of the prime areas we intended to visit. We concede that many factors come into play and that historical bests can have a plus or minus of several weeks, but it was our best guess guide. It seems sort of akin to standing on 13 in Blackjack if the Dealer shows a 2,3,4,5 or 6. There are no guarantees, but the percentages are in your favor.
I would have to say in retrospect that our trip table got hot and we hit 21 after 21 after 21. We drew a 5 to 16 and a 6 to 15. Royalty followed Aces and Aces followed Royalty. The trip was a real winner. It would be difficult to imagine how it could have been more rewarding or more beautiful. We hit the ground running and to make the very most of each day we started our 2200 mile adventure by first heading to Maine where America’s day always first begins for our 50 states.
We looked forward to Acadia National Park, the rugged coastlines and to the many lighthouses that have now spoken to mariners for hundreds of years. We mostly drove on two lane roads that let us see the countryside at a pace of our choosing and that let us experience the heart and soul of the region.
We stopped frequently as we encountered countless sights that grabbed our attention and an endless array of visual explosions of color that ignited our senses. We must have looked like we were on a scavenger hunt or were having car trouble with all our stopping and looking.
Acadia National Park was like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never knew just what you might get around the next corner, up the next hill, or at the next scenic overlook. The Park was a diverse wonderland of variety and surprises.
We saw rows of trees standing tall in their autumnal glory and ground cover blanketing fields with quilts of color.
We saw trees whose leaves were a curtain of fire and large lakes surrounded by forests ablaze.
We saw trees colored in contrasting hues…
…and ocean side beaches surrounded by blues.
We saw colors reflected on a calm inlet lake…
…and postcard type photos we were eager to take.
Acadia was fantastic from the sea to the mountaintop. As we put it in our rear view mirror, we did so with an abundance of memories of things we had seen, sounds we had heard and smiles we had shown.
Our next leaf seeking destination was New Hampshire and its treasures. We mostly concentrated on the north/central area that featured The Kancamagus Highway, The Flume Gorge, Mt. Washington and The Presidential Range. This was an awe inspiring and ahh inducing part of our great country. In keeping with our curiosity and appreciation, we spent one full day exploring about 50 miles of scenery and sights.
Along the way, we saw streams and rivers strewn with magnificent boulders and whose waterways cut through old hardwood forests dressed in their finest cloaks.
We hiked a short distance to a lake so fine that it needed a mirror to show off in.
And the road led us to one adjective creating vista after another. And just when we thought we had seen the best, spectacular went to another dimension.
The spectacular foliage also served as architectural partners and enhancing backgrounds.
Two wooden New England bridges were discovered accidentally on a walk in Flume Gorge and on a turnoff from the main highway. These two structures were perfect enhancers to the atmosphere of the trip as they so classically defined the region and reflected and fulfilled the essence of our expectations.
Through out our 10 days of sightseeing we were constantly amazed at the beauty we were presented. The experience was so worth the wait and the anticipation.The fall colors were hard to describe. Our various attempts included that the trees and leaves looked like exploding paint cans or a 256 count box of Crayola Crayons. Grandma Points said the trees looked like they were dressed up for the year ending prom.
No matter the words used, the Fall Foliage was a true celebration of nature. It was a very generous and glorious parting gift as we said goodbye to one season and hello to the next and as we bid fond farewells to one grand adventure as we await the next.
Safe travels to all!
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