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In Search of Autumn Color

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Bill and Bonnie Neely

We live in South Carolina, but we have family in New Jersey. It being October, we decided to pack our RV and go northward. In one trip we could celebrate loved ones' birthdays and also do some leaf-peeping. But this time we were a bit too early. Fall temperatures were above normal, and the leaves were still hanging on. But still we found plenty to reassure us that autumn had indeed arrived.

Corn maze and pumpkin patch festivities are celebrated widely at Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York farms. At Everitt's Pumpkin Patch in Raritan, New Jersey, we walked a winding pathway through dense thickets of drying cornstalks about 12 feet high in search of the Magic Red Pumpkin. After many dead ends we found it, and before us lay a land full of orange pumpkins of all sizes from which to select our jack-o'-lanterns.

In these states the pumpkin Halloween faces are not simple rectangular eyes, nose and toothy grin. In fact, the project becomes an art contest for the most original face or design in each home. Orange and black decorations are everywhere, often even more elaborate than Christmas decor. Ghost walks, hauntings and scary subjects are favorites all around.

We stayed at the Colonial Woods Campground in historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which was filled with families, children playing and dogs barking during the weekend, but by late Sunday night the woods were pitch dark and silent. We were the only ones staying longer. For fear of Ichabod Crane or a witch running out of the darkness, we cut our dog's walk very short.

Next, we headed farther north, still hoping to find some colored leaves. At Lake George, New York, we loved the beauty of the huge lake and some trees beginning to turn yellow. A fun fall festival of arts and crafts, specialty foods and great seasonal spirit, high school football games and family fun was taking over the main street, and there is also a huge outlet mall here that we stopped to see.

Several hours farther north in the high Adirondack Mountains, we were thrilled to achieve our goal. Leaves on some of the trees seemed at their peak of red, burgundy, orange, gold and yellow, emphasized by the deep green of the evergreens interspersed among them. Apple festivals and cider presses were in full swing with many tempting yummies for sale. Along the roadways one lake after another filled huge, deep depressions left by the glaciers that formed these mountains thousands of years ago. Each mile of scenery was more beautiful than the one before it.

In Vermont the color was running late, too, so we decided to return to Ausable Chasm, which we had hiked before and remembered fondly. We took the brief ferry ride from Grand Island back to New York to revisit this lovely place that is sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks. The Ausable River runs through the deep sandstone gorge and is an inviting place to float or tube, but we preferred to hike. The upper trail is easy, through lovely pine woods on a wide path of sawdust chips with many viewpoints overlooking the chasm and river below.

 

The hydroelectric dam from the 1880s and the natural cascades make waterfalls and white foaming swirls in the canyon. It is a magical natural wonder. The visitor center offers food, souvenirs and a bus ride back to the parking area.

The wind chill was in the air, and leaves were rustling as we reluctantly headed back southward, where 80-degree days and rainy nights awaited us. But we knew if we waited long enough, we would get to see the color we sought in South Carolina -- and we did.

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WHEN YOU GO

Ausable Chasm: www.ausablechasm.com

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Bonnie and Bill Neely are freelance writers and photographers. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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