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!
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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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