I love living in San Diego. Perfect weather. Beautiful beaches. The world-famous Zoo.
But every year when fall rolls around, I get a case of the blues. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the bright, sunny days and comfortably warm evenings. I just miss the change of seasons. I don’t mean to complain, but autumn in the southland is, well, barely discernable. Oh, a handful of liquid amber trees are kind enough to change color and drop their leaves. But for this Midwestern transplant, it’s just not enough. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but I long for the cacophony of color that adorns the tree-lined streets where I grew up.
Well, for the first time in years, I got my fill of the season’s fall foliage on a fabulous tour through New England. Tom and I joined 20 other San Diego area “leaf-peekers” on a fun-filled bus ride that included autumn’s brilliant hues, American history, famous cities and charming New England villages.
Our tour with Holiday Vacations began in Boston. After a quick overview of “Beantown’s” historic and cultural sites (including a bittersweet trip down memory lane at the John F. Kennedy Library), we meandered north through the Mt. Washington Valley in New Hampshire, one of America’s most scenic areas. Our first look at New England’s lush foliage, mountain brooks and covered bridges was a thrill.
As we traveled north, the landscape exploded in color! Rich reds. Neon oranges. Yellows on fire! Magnificent maples! Shimmering oaks. A rainbow of color at every turn!
Following a few fabulous photo ops in the rugged mountain valleys of Crawford and Franconia Notch, we discovered the sparkling beauty of New Hampshire’s largest Lake. Aboard an authentic paddlewheel, we cruised Lake Winnipesaukee and got a glimpse of hundreds of tiny islands. A closer look revealed scores of magnificent summer “cottages” – vacation getaways for many of New England’s rich and famous.
My first glimpse of New England included a visit to the extraordinary “Castle in the Clouds” – a must-see New Hampshire attraction. This masterpiece of a mansion has a history-rich history of the American “can-do” spirit.
From there we filled up on homemade apple pie at the famous Apple Barn, followed by another “sweet” encounter as we learned how maple sap travels all the way from Vermont’s famous apple orchards to become the sweet, gooey syrup atop my whole wheat pancakes! Yum!
My favorite day began with a tour of Stockbridge, Vermont, the home of artist Norman Rockwell, and a visit to the museum containing many of his original illustrations and paintings. I could have spent all day just taking in the hundreds of Saturday Evening Post covers made famous by this beloved American artist!
That afternoon, my fellow travelers and I received a warm welcome at the Hancock Shaker Village. There we got a taste of the simple lifestyle of this fascinating religious sect, followed by an authentic Shaker supper and entertainment. (Yes, the Shakers really do “shake.” It’s in their style of sacred dancing!)
From the simple life … to the big city… our trip culminated in a visit to the Big Apple. A whirlwind tour of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and Times Square was exhilarating. But our trip ended in a musical “high” as we took in Broadway’s spectacular (and laugh-out-loud funny!) rendition of “Sister Act.”
Writer Pat Conroy once observed, “In New York City, there’s ‘too much of too much!’” I agree. I got my fall foliage fix and so much more! Now, it’s good to be home.
But something’s changed? Have you noticed? The days are shorter. The sun’s rays come at a different angle. The evening air is crisp and the sycamore tree down the street is missing most of its leaves! Could it be?
Maybe it’s fall, after all. Maybe I just need to look a little more closely.
Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.