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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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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Vermont Fall Foliage and More

Today is Labor Day and its time to plan this falls activities. Fall Foliage Trips are perfect for this year’s economy. For most of us, there are great Fall Foliage destinations within a tank of gas. Here are some favorites:

New England Fall Foliage

Mid-Atlantic Region

Rockies

And last but not least, for our fans in the South – Virginia Fall Foliage is at its best in the Western part of the state, in the Shenandoah, Blue Ridge and (further south) Smoky Mountains.

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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What to do this summer?

My parents want to know what I want to do this summer. I used to go to day camp and then became a day camp counselor, but last summer I said that I was never going to do that again, but don’t really know what else there is to do.

We always spend a week in Philadelphia visiting my grandparents and I’m thinking maybe I can stay up there with them for more time. I wonder whether I could get a job at the African American Museum in Philadelphia…that would be really cool. And I know that the Eastern State Penitentiary sounds really morbid, but my grandfather used to work there and it’s a pretty cool museum too. It’s not like I’m sooo into museums, but…I hate to be such a teenage stereotype…but I need SOMETHING to put on my college apps. I’m like looking for some sort of experience that’ll set me apart. And since I want to apply to UPenn early decision, maybe it’ll look good if I start acting loyal to philly. Maybe I can even stay all summer with my grandparents. And if those jobs don’t work out (b/c I have no idea if they’re accepting) then Im just I can just volunteer. SOMEWHERE. Even in a hospital.

Meanwhile, I haven’t written in a while. First of all Ricky and I broke up. he ended up being such an ass. he’s graduating this year and doesn’t want to feel “tied down” with a highschool girlfriend when he starts college, but said that we should still definitely keep dating until graduation. Are you fucking kidding me??? I told him to go to hell and I was cool calm and collected and then cried my eyes out when I got back to my dorm room and I haven’t spoken to him since, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks he’s a jerk so that of course makes me feel better.

Also, not much to say here, but our family trip to Stone Mountain State Park ended up being pretty cool (considering the circumstances, y’know, being a family trip and all). We went rock climbing which I’m good at and camped out and it was…fine I’ll admit it…fun.
Flip-flop, flip-flop…seriously that’s how I feel lately. I feel like a yo-yo (that’s a better metaphor), every day I feel high as a kite and then down in the dumps. jesus lacee stop acting like a drama queen, right? argh.

So speaking of rock climbing, I just heard about the UNCW climbing wall. it’s in Wilmington right near school, so I need to find out my info and then get my butt back in shape.

At least my parents are happy that Ricky is out of the picture.


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Putting the Me in Utah

I decided I would simply hitch a ride to wherever the next car out was going. There were a lot of families with kids at the ranch so i just had to find someone with room in their car and not too much food smushed into back seat cushions. Well… two out of three ain’t bad, right? It’s not like my pants were so clean to start with anyways. I honestly can’t even remember their last name, but this very nice family was going back home to Salt Lake City, which sounded to me like a nice enough spot—why the hell not?

So I turned in my spurs, said goodbye to Sandy (did I even tell you about the horse that saved my life?) and Mike and then voila—off I go, turning the last 3 weeks into a mirage, the only traces remaining is the stench that I just can’t seem to shake.

Utah, Utah – there must be a song about Utah, though I can’t think of any.

I’m at a youth hostel now in Salt Lake City, explored a bit this evening, and now I desperately need a map so I can figure out where I’m going tomorrow morning. I’ve barely used my tent and since the weather out here is so perfect right now, I want to go somewhere where I can sleep under the stars. Ok, google maps…

Okay, there is A LOT to do here. I’m thinking I’ll start at Capitol Reef National Park, and then go over to Arches National Park, then down to Canyonlands National Park — that makes the most sense I think, but then Zion National Park is totally in the opposite direction, as is Bryce Canyon National Park, so maybe that doesn’t make sense. Bear with me…

Okay, this is better: Zion National Park (long bus ride from Salt Lake City, I think) to Bryce Canyon to Canyonlands and then to Arches and I’ll skip Capitol Reef.

Okay cool, I’m going to Zion tomorrow!

Wow, was just browsing and see that you can ride a bobsled at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. And I’m kinda interested in visiting the Historic Temple Square here in Salt Lake. Maybe I should stay in SLC for a few days?

Why am I starting to stress out over this? What happened to relaxed Tim who didn’t give a damn about planning. I need to sign off and go to bed. In the morning, wherever and whenever I’m in the mood to go to, I’ll go.


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Getting in touch with my inner Cowboy

Yeehaw!
It was my goal to become head wrangler and I am proud to announce that I have achieved that title. After much persistence and insistence (begging, really), I came out on top!

Mike: Tim, you may not be head wrangler without years of experience.
Tim: Please, Mike, Please.
Mike: No. Stop bothering me.
Tim: Please, Mike, Please.
Mike: If I let you accompany the head wrangler for a day will you shut up and leave me alone?
Tim: Yes.
Mike: Fine. Shut up and leave me alone.

And THAT’S how I became head wrangler!

Meanwhile, I’ve spent most of the last 2 weeks feeding pigs, washing dishes, and pretending to be important, but I’ve also taken a few excursions from the ranch. Last week I went to Eagle Ranch where I went on a guided tour of how pistachio nuts are grown and processed—and anyone who knows me knows that I was totally in my element. Combine ranches and pistachios and you’ve got one happy guy.

There’s a genre of museums that I didn’t know about til now and because of my recent ranch escapades, I’ve got a newfound appreciation for: the ranch museum. I went to the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum as well as the Ghost Ranch Living Museum. There are a bunch more though, that either highlight the history of ranch life or are museums of local arts and crafts work that’s housed in a ranch. The Spring River Park and Zoo I hear is good too—there’s a ranch there with Texas longhorns (my new best friends) on display.

The culture out here is so rich and I feel so privileged to be a part of it. I seriously keep thinking of my cubicle…

It’s not like the east coast doesn’t have a rich history and culture of its own, but somehow, now, after being out here in the wild west, it just seems so bland. Almost European in nature compared to out here on rich American soil.

Dude, I was born to live on a dude ranch. Maybe I’ll stay here forever…

Musings and Travels

Greetings from the open road! We finished up last week in West Virginia, chilling in the countryside with some beautiful people. Sometimes all you need is to be around the right people in the right place and things just seem to fall into place. Not that things were bad before, but somehow I feel like the air around me has cleared. Like I breathed in some special aura that decluttered my thoughts and realigned my chi and completely centered myself. I can breathe easier—and isn’t that why I headed out on this trip? City anxieties were just getting me down, weighing me down.

Earlier this week we were in Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore which was beautiful. We camped out 4 nights in a row, 3 in the park and once at a campground we found along the highway on our drive up to Indiana.

We’re actually in Chicago now (I know I keep complaining about big city life, and yet, I can’t pull myself away!). We’re really just here to refuel and restock (not that I’m defensive or anything…). We already went to The Plaza Shopping Center in Evergreen b/c I needed a new watch and Ryan needed new pants (haha—I’m laughing thinking about it. When we went white water rafting, he jumped out screaming “watch this corkscrew” but all I heard was “watch this – ” b/c then he splashed so hard into the water and when he popped up, his pants must’ve gotten stuck on a rock and ripped all the way down his leg. He’s been wearing them for the last week with a makeshift sewing job (done by me!) and he looks ridiculous.).

Tomorrow we’re going to the Museum of Contemporary Art and then we’re gonna get back on the road for a loooong time and go to Lake Maria State Park where we’re finally going to see Aly, Tess, and Greenie (more Rainbow friends)! They don’t have internet and since we’ll be staying with them for a week or so, you may not hear from me for a while…

Wait I was about to sign off, but I just want to say that things with Ryan are going so so well. Not that I was worried at all, but I know that other people were, saying things like, “Once you travel with someone you learn all about their dark side” or something like that, so either Ryan just doesn’t have a dark side or he’s doing a damn good job at hiding it from me. Obviously he’s got one, but it’s nothing I can’t handle!


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