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!


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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.
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Arizona’s changing scenery

While fall foliage is perhaps most well-known in New England, that’s not to say that those who live out in the southwestern more desert-y areas of the country are left without beautiful fall colors. And while Phoenix is still unbearably hot for the most, I’m filled with hope (and prayer!) that soon the heat breaks, the cool winds come, and the leaves on the trees start to turn their majestic hues of reds, yellows, and browns. Here are some great places to soak up the best of Autumn in Arizona:

Maybe in a few weeks it’ll be cool enough to venture out for a day hike…in the meantime, stick to your air conditioned car and go for some scenic drives through these areas. Enjoy! Happy Fall!

Martha
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Best Florida Beaches and State Parks

I don’t BELIEVE so much time has passed since I last wrote. I think I last left you on my way to Rainbow, which was so long ago, that I can’t even begin to write about it except to say that it was awesome—a truly beautiful experience in a beautiful place, with beautiful people. I’ll write more about it later. While I was there I wrote in my journal (like the old fashioned paper type) so I’ve got things to say, but not now. Quick update: Ryan and I finally made our way back east to good ol’ Massachusetts (my parents missed me…awwww), but just a week later we got back in the car and drove down to Florida, which maybe isn’t the smartest thing to do I the summer because it’s a freakin’ sauna down there (oh, and it rains quite a bit!) but we’ve been staying cool, camping out a lot where there are cool ocean/gulf breezes, drinking a ton, and crashing at the occasional cheap motel when it’s just too painful.

Meanwhile, I came across some great lists while I was researching where to go next and thought that since summer in Florida stretches on forever, these should be quite up to date even in a few months from now. So here ya go!

From Associatedcontent.com: The Best State Parks to Visit in Central Florida During the Summer:

From Placesaroundflorida.com: Best Florida Beaches:

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Almost in Wyoming

I don’t believe that I’ve been traveling for as long as I have and had not heard of couchsurfing until last week. So first of all, Ryan finally came back from Boston and flew into Kansas City, Missouri where I was dutifully waiting to pick him up, it was late and I had made my first couchsurfing arrangements and we went and stayed at the Leehy’s—an elderly couple who keep a guest room available for travelers passing through town. I love this concept and I can’t wait to get home (wherever that may end up being) and opening up my couch for crashing. The next day we woke up really early and drove straight to Omaha where we stopped back at Tiff’s (twice in one month, Tiff—and you say I never visit…!). I told her about couchsurfing and she’s now signed up to have random travelers crash at her place.
Tomorrow we leave from here and head straight home to Pinedale, Wyoming for the Rainbow Gathering. Came across Karin Zirk’s blog which gives over important info on the hows and wheres of the Gathering this year. Apparently it’s cold at night and the cops are already on our case—but that’s not something Rainbow warriors can’t handle, right? And about the cold, before we left Kansas City, we stopped at Metro North Shopping Center and bought some extra hats, scarves, and blankets. We spend a crapload of money—but it is for family after all!
Looks as though the Gathering is just near Bridger-Teton National Forest.
I can’t wait to be home! See you there!

Home Sweet Home – back in Phoenix, Arizona, and happy!

I had such an amazing trip, but it is good to be home. I was away for a month—do you believe it?! It flew by so quickly.

Last I left you, I was in Portland, Oregon, museum and park hopping, meeting interesting people, and relaxing. You know, when I used to travel, I’d always come back home a few pounds heavier; but this time, I’m proud to say, that I’ve actually lost a few pounds. For once food wasn’t my focus, but movement and activity. I must’ve walked from one end of Portland to the other, several times! I even went ice skating (at the Lloyd Center Mall) – something I hadn’t done in years! The Oregon Zoo was another blast from my past—when’s the last time I was at a zoo? I can’t even remember!

But it wasn’t all bustle and activity—staying at the Avalon Hotel & Spa, I ended up getting my second, third, and fourth massages of my life. Oh, dear—I really indulged, didn’t I?

But the highlight of it all was Smith Rock State Park, as I knew it would be. Robert was an amazing guide and showed me all there is to see. He’s a rock climber, as are many of the Smith Rock locals, and while he knew there was no way anyone was going to tie me to the side of a mountain, he showed me where some climbers were rappelling and it was quite a sight! The things people can do with (or TO!) their bodies is sometimes breathtaking.

And now I’m back home, and it’s like I’m seeing Phoenix for the first time. It’s not like I went off to see these beautiful things, great cities and the great outdoors, from a place where that doesn’t exist. On the contrary—I’ve got those things so close to my very own home, and rarely even notice them. Well not anymore…Phoenix, Arizona, here I come!
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Chillin’ in Montauk State Park

The other day I was in Montauk State Park (again), just walking and writing and thinking. Ryan will be meeting me here in a few days and then we’ll be off to Wyoming for Rainbow. And I hate to fast forward like this, but pretty soon I’ll be returning back to the big city—maybe. I mean, I quit my job so I don’t have plans, but the more I try and escape to the woods and mountains, the more I find myself missing my family and friends who, as luck would have it, live in (or near) big cities. So I was happy to come across this article in USA Today called 10 great leafy getaways tucked away in the big city.

So, if you’re a city dweller needing respite from the hustle and bustle around you, try finding solace in these tucked away getaways:

  1. Golden Gate Park – San Francisco, California
  2. Teardrop Park, Battery Park City – New York City, along the Hudson River
  3. Millennium Park – Chicago, Illinois
  4. Zilker Metropolitan Park – Austin, Texas
  5. Balboa Park – San Diego, California
  6. Boston Common – Boston, Massachusetts
  7. Constitution Gardens – Washington, D.C.
  8. Gas Works Park – Seattle, Washington
  9. Loring Park – Minneapolis, Minnesota
  10. George Washington Memorial Park – Jackson, Wyoming

Why Central Park – NYC is not on the list… I’m not sure. As well as the Boston Public Garden. But it’s still a nice list. Hope it helps you city folk!

Portland: maybe I’ll relocate?

Would you believe it? I’m already in Portland…and loving it! So much time as past and all of it has been spectacular.

It’s hard to explain what I experienced at Red Rock Canyon. It was…mystical. There’s just something about the way the sun feels as it burns through my clothing. And I simply cannot explain the effect of the strong sun’s rays inexplicably tearing the clouds apart. But mostly, it’s the colors: the reds and browns against the blue of the sky is breathtaking and magical. I will definitely return to Red Rock Canyon. (And all this is coming from someone who lives just a few hours from Red Rock State Park in Sedona.)

My drive up to Oregon was beautiful and uneventful (just the way I like it). A few days ago I went museum hopping, to the Portland Museum of Art to the Portland Art Museum (both great) and then to the Portland Japanese Garden. Tomorrow I’ll be meeting Robert at his house for coffee and breakfast before his grand tour of Smith Rock State Park, where he promises I’ll be impressed.

Today I’m just hanging around my hotel and the neighborhood. I’ve treated myself to a stay in Avalon Hotel & Spa which is lovely. And I spent all afternoon in Washington Park, where I will certainly return between now and the end of the week.

I love it here. I feel relaxed and independent and happy. Check, check, check—goals reached!
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Rescued by some Moabites

I can’t even count the number of National Parks I’ve been in since I started my journey, the number of nights I’ve unzipped my tent and pulled my sleeping bag out so I could sleep under the starry night, the number of amazing people I’ve met who have taken me in for a night or shared some food or a shower (I mean, let me use their shower…we didn’t actually share…). And it’s on this last point (the people, not the shower) that I want to talk about now.

My most recent stop was at Canyonlands National Park which was beautiful. I hiked around for a few days and was just getting more and more tired by the second. I definitely should have stopped when I started feeling this way and should have headed right back to civilization. But I didn’t because I’m a trooper and I wasn’t going to let tiredness get the best of me. But then I must’ve passed out or something, because I woke up in the back of a pick up truck. There was another guy back there with me (his wife was driving) who told me that I was found outside my tent at the campground, unconscious. The guy suspected that I was dehydrated and they were bringing me to a hospital in Moab for an IV. Which they did, before bringing me to their tiny little home in Moab, right near Arches National Park for the night.

Let me just say: I am not a religious guy. I believe that there are some higher powers (maybe God), and I went to Sunday School when I was kid even though my parents were atheists. I have never thought much about Christianity or about Christian goodness, but these last few days, I have experienced it first hand.

Bob and Risa Berry and their 5 children took me into their home for three days, and it seemed as though this was something they were used to—taking in stragglers who they’ve found half dead in the parks. Two kids cleared out their room and moved in with the other 3 kids during that time and I got a room and access to a kitchen and bookcases filled with books until I recovered, from what was nothing more serious than exhaustion. Every night I had dinner with the Berrys and then the family sang hymns before bedtime that I was invited to as well. I felt like I was in a Christian children’s bible storyland.

I became particularly close with a nine year old boy, Johnny, who showed me all his secret hideouts on their vast woodland property and a treehouse that he and his 2 older brothers had built by themselves.

One day I went with Risa to the Dan O’Laurie Museum which helped me get a better understanding of the Moab region, which is known as a mountain biker’s paradise. So another day I actually went on a beautiful tour of the area with Bob on two of their bikes (does anyone work in Moab??).

And now I feel as strong as an ox. I’m going to do something I don’t usually do: I’m going to rent a car (even though gas will cost me my food for the next week). Apparently there are some scenic drives along the Colorado River that’ll bring me to Colorado. Probably just rent for the day and then get back on my own two feet!

Tim Groome is back!

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Alone on the road: South Dakota to Missouri

It’s been a long time…
Ryan flew back to Boston last week for his training and left me with the car and I drove by myself from Custer State Park to my sister’s house in Missouri, which was about 1000 miles. I did stop for a day in Omaha to visit my friend Tiffany who’s been begging me to come visit for years. And now I’m finally at Juliette’s!

Juliette is my sister and I love her so so so much and I’m so happy to be here! We’re 11 months apart and grew up as best friends, but over the last few years since she’s moved to Salem, I’ve barely seen her. She had a bit of a fight with our parents so doesn’t like to come back east so often…loooong story.

Anyways, she’s an artist and a musician and just keeps picking up new instruments and skills. I got the book smarts and she got the arts smarts (well, she really got both). What can you do?

I’ll be here for a few weeks until I head out to Wyoming for the Rainbow Gathering so have really just been taking it easy. She took me to Montauk State Park which is practically in her back yard and since Mark Twain National Forest is so close, we’ll probably be spending some time there as well.

Juliette just made me blackberry tea and we’re going to go sit out on the porch. laters!
(Ryan I miss you!)
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