Fall Foliage – the Golden Aspens

Hello friends! Long time no speak. I’m sad to say that my travels have recently been…bleak. Arizona is just too hot to do anything outdoors, I’m afraid. I have, however, been to my fair share of (highly air conditioned) driving excursions—which is what I’d love to share with you today. ( I am skipping the part about the shopping malls I have been to.)

People think that New England is the only place to find fall colors, that Massachusetts fall foliage and Vermont fall foliage are the only places where the trees turn majestic colors to welcome in the new season. Well, those people could not be more wrong! Beautiful fall colors can sneak up on you just about anywhere where there are trees, and sometimes as early as August. Just the other day I saw a lovely maple changing. Arizona and New Mexico fall foliage is absolutely stunning. I plan on driving out the forests around Santa Fe at the end of September when maples really are at their peak. And I’m not going to get a chance this fall, but a few years ago I drove up to southern Colorado and fall foliage in Colorado, against the blue mountains and blue streams, are the image of perfection.

So I’m not knocking Catskills fall foliage or  New England fall foliage or the colors of other northeast towns that become completely covered with oranges, golds, and deep reds—I’m just saying that you shouldn’t forget about the changing colors of the southwest! If you happen to be in Arizona this fall, give me a call and I’ll show you what we’ve got to offer!
Continue reading

Road Tripping on a…Bus?

It is too expensive to own my car. Insurance, gas, and upkeep take nearly half my paycheck and basically all I ever do is drive back and forth from work; I never do anything exciting anymore even though there are so many fun things to do in DC. (Yes, I got a job, and no, it doesn’t help that I drive a 1982 jalopy.) I’ve decided to sell my car, yet I refuse to believe that that means the end of roadtripping. In fact, I think considering my last cross country excursion, I’m pretty well equipped for any sort of travel!

Here’s my plan: My dad is actually paying for a flight out to Madison to see him (thanks dad!). I’ll be with him for a few days and then take the Madison to Chicago bus (I think it’s Van Gelder Bus Lines). I’ll be in Chicago for 4 days and I’m already got a list of places to visit in Chicago that’s as long as my arm.

Okay, so then some more long bus rides—this time to Denver. Got another long list of places to visit in Colorado, both in Denver and Colorado Springs, and I even found AN AMAZING deal on a shuttle from DEN to COS which is great because…I have a conference for work (my first!!) in Colorado Springs and then they’re paying for my flight back!

Meanwhile, when I get back to D.C., I think I’m going to start to like my car-less life. The Metro goes straight from my apartment to work and I figure that since I work for an environmental lobbying group (yes, I got my dream job J), it’s really the right thing to do. And since I’m new to the area, Greyhound is going to become my new best friend as I explore all the cool places to visit in Washington, D.C. I’ve been there for months and have barely done anything.

Wish me luck!

(P.S. Ryan and I broke up. Last I heard he was working on an Orlando Casino Cruise….It’s a long story, but all I can say is…Good riddance!)
Continue reading

Thanksgiving shopping in North and South Carolina

For the first time EVER, I won’t be spending Thanksgiving with my parents. Instead of going home, I’ll be driving all across down to South Carolina to spend the weekend with one of my best friends who invited me and a few other of our besties. I don’t believe my parents said yes!

While I love turkey and remembering the pilgrims, what I really love about Thanksgiving is the shopping. Things go super on sale and I know some people hate the crowds, but I think its fun to walk through a jam packed mall.

I’ve compiled a list of some of the best of the best shopping malls in North Carolina and South Carolina. Some I’ve been to and the rest come recommended by friends who live throughout these two states.

North Carolina malls:

South Carolina malls:

Obviously there are many many more, but these should keep you busy enough this Thanksgiving season.

Happy Thanksgiving Day Sale Shopping!
Continue reading

Ghost Towns, USA

I’m baaaaack! And I appreciate all of your emails of concern. I did not get eaten by mountain lions, as one of my very humorous readers asked. In fact, I am, sadly, back in New Paltz, the land of the living dead as I like to think. Back to the cubicle, back to grind. Gotta build up the cash stacks before my next adventure…I’m thinking somewhere colder this time. The northwest, Alaska, or I may even *gasp* cross the border into Canada.

There is so much I haven’t told you about the remainder of my Southwest/Midwest journey. It will take time, my friends, for me to put it all in words. And so, in celebration of Halloween Month (that’s what we called it as kids), I thought I’d share a bit about my Ghost Town travels. These totally came out of nowhere. I was hanging out with some completely random people in Colorado and they brought me around on their ghost town tour. We also went to the Ghost Town Museum near Denver. A rollicking good time was had by all.

First, what IS a ghost town, you ask? Well, wikipedia will tell you that it is “a town or city that has been abandoned, usually because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as flood or war.” But I would add, that a ghost town is an isolated, desolate, haunted area. Many of the places on this list I’m about to make used to be near railroads, but were abandoned when people moved out to the highways. Some were old mining camps. But all of them are spooky. mooo hooo hahaha! (That was my spooky cackle.)

Here are some ideas for Halloween fun if you happen to find yourselves out in the middle of nowhere in Colarado. The key to a good ghost town experience is to go with the right people. You have to be in the mood to pretend to be scared (because shhhh…they’re not really scary.)

And if you happen to be in California, take the “walk you’ll never forget”—the Calico Ghost Walk, a 90 minutes after-dark tour of the Calico Ghost Town in Yermo (Barstow).

Happy Halloween!
Continue reading

Next stop: Vermont and Maine Fall Foliage!

I know I said the Massachusetts fall foliage was the best of the best, but that’s because I hadn’t been thinking about Vermont’s rich, colorful, fall landscape. Think of it as a lightshow as you zoom down the highway and see a blur of colors surrounding you. One great way to see the length of the state is to take State Road 100, from Wilmington to Troy, scenic all the way. Side roads will lead you to Mt. Mansfield (you can hike or take the gondola), to Lake Champlain (gorgeous!), and Green Mountain National Forest. You can take the vintage railroad between White River Junction and Norwich (weekends only) for great views of the White Mountain foothills.

Head back over to the coast for Maine’s plush foliage scene. Peak time is mid-October. The rugged coastline makes for different scenery from the rest of the northeast, and the richly forested areas just scream for attention with their bold reds, oranges, and yellows. Check out Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park and Bradbury Mountains State Park (keep your eyes peeled for hawks), both north of Portland. (Make sure you stop at the L.L. Bean Flagship Shore Freeport—open 24 hours a day!) Go inland a bit to find the Sebago Lake region—climb Douglas Mountain to see the ocean in one direction and the White Mountains in the other. Southern Maine offers boat excursions from Bath, some to Casco Bay and some to Kennebec River. A ferry service also runs to the islands in Casco Bay. Camden is a perfect place to stop, for dinner or for lodging, and also offers gorgeous ocean and mountain views, all surrounded by to-die-for foliage. Don’t forget Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island, in addition to the quaint and historic town of Bar Harbor.

Oh, and one more thing: whenever you’re in Vermont, make sure you stop by the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury. It truly is the greatest place on earth.

Happy Fall!


Related Topics:

Fall Foliage, part 3

This is an addendum to my last fall foliage post. It should have gone without saying that as enthusiastic I was about New York City fall foliage, I’m not blind—I know that it’s certainly not the best fall foliage in the country. That can be found as you drive further up the east coast into Western New York and New England.

So hop in your car and make a road trip out of it! The best time to go in probably in the next few weeks. If you wait too long, then it’ll start getting cold and the golden oranges and yellows will quickly turn brown and then disappear. Ready for a beautiful ride?

Wait—don’t leave the metro area quite yet. First drive out to Long Island and enjoy the fall colors of Long Island. You can do some serious leaf peeping if you keep driving out toward the shore, to the Hamptons and Fire Island. Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay and Sand Point Preserve in Sands Point are particularly beautiful this time of year (end of October).

Head further up the east coast into the colorful heart of New England. On your way up the coast loop around Mystic for some majestic views. Continue up I-95, loop around the Scituate Reservoir and then stop in Providence for a nice visit by the sea. Take I-95 or I-84 into Massachusetts to check out beautiful Boston fall foliage. If you head onto the Mass Pike and go west, you can travel deep into one of the most colorful states in the country—Massachusetts fall foliage is the best of the best.

Continue your leaf viewing safari by continuing up the coast into New Hampshire. Go zip lining on Barron Mountain, balloon over Lake Winnipesaukee, or just stick to your car and drive around Bear Notch Road or Portsmouth, New Hampshire for breathtaking views. You can also take a Lake Winnipesaukee cruise which is a unique way to see some of nature’s most breathtaking magic shows. The northern tip of New Hampshire is the first to change, so you should really get up there ASAP (end of September is best) and hike through the Great North Woods. The beginning of October brings color and majesty to the White Mountains (take the Kancamagus Highway – SR 112). Other ways to view the scenery: Take a train to the top of a mountain! Either the Mt. Washington Cog Railway or the Conway Scenic Railroad will bring you to some of the best peaks and valleys in the regions. A gondola will take you to the peak of Wildcat Mountain, and if you can brave the cold, a kayak trip is the best way to view the shores of the Saco River.

Must run, but stay tuned next time for part 4 as we continue to travel up the east coast to Vermont and Maine.
Continue reading

Back in North Carolina… with a car!

Back to school this year is definitely at its most exciting. First of all, it’s my senior year, which is pretty cool in itself, but more importantly…I have a car! My mom got a company car, so my dad took her car and I got to take his! I drove back down to school with another friend from Richmond and now I’m parked outside my dorm, ready to make a list of all the things in North Carolina that I want to do in the next few months. I plan on driving all over the state and seeing and doing everything! Senior year is supposed to be fun, right? This area I’m starting with is kinda near Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Asheville. Sort of near the North Carolina-Virginia Border in the Southern Appalachian Mountain region.

It’s gonna be a great year!
Continue reading