Leaf peeping: from 25 degrees C to snow in five days!

At present we are staying at Old Forge in the Adirondacks. In the last blog I mentioned that we had driven across from Erie (the town on the edge of the lake), to Old Forge arriving during a thunderstorm.

The day after was stunning. Clear blue skies and very warm. 25 degrees centigrade. We had prepared ourselves for cold weather with thick hiking gear and long-johns. In actual fact, we unzipped our legs off our trousers, put on thin tops, with fleece round our waists in case, and set off.

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We hiked through the woods, following different trails and these are some of the pictures that I took. The rain had obviously brought most of the red coloured leaves down the night before as they lay fresh on the ground. But it was still beautiful as you can see.

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That day we walked 8 miles and had our lunch by a large lake.

Yesterday it was a lot cooler, 16 degrees C, 9 degrees less than the day before. The sun still shone for most of the day, but this time our trousers were long and we wore our fleeces. We didn’t go very far this time, spendingĀ a lot of it chasing leaves, selecting a few to dry and some to immerse in glycerin. We saw more deer eating the odd fallen apple, but mostly leaves. There were far fewer deer in the gardens this year than we had seen three years ago. Go back and check out the pictures from those blogs. Apparently the reason is that the hunting season started last weekend!

Notice the black squirrels. Initially we thought the first one we saw was just particularly dark, but we have seen quite a few of them, plus the usual grey ones.

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Yesterday, I started this in my sketch book.

Version 2

Version 2

Snow is expected on Saturday! But by then we will be on our way back towards Boston to fly home!

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On the point of leaving the US

It is 16:10 US time and we sitting at Logan Airport in Boston. The clouds are slightly clearing and we are due to board at about 17:00.

Last night was spent at a little town called Peterborough. We had repacked our bags last night in preparation for the flight home, so once we had eaten our porridge, we went for a small walk around the town. Although it was cloudy it was quite warm. We had done a little window shopping last night, so this morning went into those shops we had picked out. Unfortunately we didn’t find anything we were looking for. I had decided I wanted a pad of Strathmore Vellum paper to give it a good try, but they only had it in rolls. Perhaps just as well.

Before leaving, we decided to have a last coffee at our last diner.

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Did you know that theterm’Diner’ refers to the type of car it was on a train. Therefor many of the diners one sees are converted railway carriages. This one was particularly fine from the outside.

But inside we were tempted, and who is strong enough not to succumb? Not us.

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Once outside again we were back to Leaf peeping. As we were lower down, the colours were fantastic again. But note the name of the cafe by this maple.

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For those of you who love the colours, here are a few more pictures of our drive towards Boston. They were magnificent to begin with, but began to fade and get browner the nearer to Boston we got.

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The the freeway.

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Then a food break at the airport! It’s diet time when we get home.

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Sorry about the typos. I was rushing this to G&T it off before we are called up. Bye for now.

Thursday, Final day in the Adirondacks

Since we have been here we have tried to get one or two postcards for people without email. We had almost given up, when lo and behold a shop appeared with one or two. Now we can rest easy, but anyone reading this will not be getting a snail mail card from us. Obviously, the use of emails etc has had a real effect on such niceties. Today we sent a picture to friends and family that will not be appearing in the blog – us as we are!

Anyway, this is our last day in the Adirondacks. We have just been planning the next but last leg of our journey back to Boston. Today, like every other day has not worked out as planned ( I hope tomorrow will), but has been far better than that. Today we had planned a trip along some tracks above us in the mountains. But when we drove up, although the trackers were well marked on our maps, they were gated, barred and bolted. What to do? We started back again down the mountain (luckily driving), got lost (with the map) and found ourselves at McCauley mountain chair lift. So up we went.

The picture to family and friends was a unflattering picture of us on the chair lift.

But these pictures are ones taken before and during the lift. Note the change in colour scheme.

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We stayed up at the top for a few hours. Robin had forgotten his painting things. I had mine and found a baby maple tree to try and capture the bright red of the leaves. It was so still up there except for the crickets and some sort of animal that had a high frequency sound- almost like something electrical. It wasn’t, but we don’t know what it was. Robin chased around the top a bit as it moved around, to see if he could identify it. In the end he gave up and settled down to watch the gentle clouds – with his eyes closed. When he eventually opened his eyes again he commented how quiet it was – he was right, he had stopped snoring so I could take out my earplugs!

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Gradually the sun began to fade a little as it got more cloudy, so we decided to pack up our things and take the trail down the mountain. I have to admit it wasn’t a big mountain – more like a large hill. But it had ‘mountain’ in its name and it was used during the winter for slalom skiing. Apparently the trail down was less than a mile, so you can make your own impressions from it.

Whilst on the top I burnt my shins and the back of my neck. I think that may probably be the last hot sun we are likely to experience this year. But I could be wrong.

What is so incredible is that since we have been here in Old Forge, the leaves have changed so much. When we arrived on Monday we were impressed with the colours, but the next day they were really amazing. Today I would definitely say that they are on the wane. A lot of leaves have fallen, therefore there is a lot of bare branches. Where the leaves are still clinging to the trees they are often shrivelled and brown. Mixed with some of the deep and bright reds still around, it is still an incredible sight in the sharp clear sunlight.

We see white tailed deer every day, mostly in the early morning or evening. They seem to like eating apples and crab apples fallen from the trees in gardens. No-one seems to mind this at all. One isn’t allowed to feed them and I haven’t seem them rummaging for food. This evening when we came back from eating our supper, one appeared outside our door. I happened to have a handful of crab apples I had picked, so held them out – not really expecting the deer to come over to me. It did. So Robin took these pictures. It is such a privilege to have a wild animal feed from your hand.

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Wednesday in the Adirondacks

The day started off similar to yesterday although slightly chillier. Having prepared ourselves by eating a simple porridge breakfast and getting a prepared salad for our lunch, we set off to explore the Adirondacks a little more by car.

We headed off in the direction of the Blue Mountain Lake. The colours continued to be magnificent and eventually the clouds cleared to give us the sun. We drove slowly to get as many impressions in as possible. As the morning wore on and the sun stayed out, it got increasingly warmer. It was beautiful.

Before leaving Old Forge, we went to look at the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolours. Apparently this is an annual event. I was unclear as to whether the exhibitors were meant to be from the Adirondacks, or whether the scenes were meant to have an impression of the Adirondacks, as I understand the artists were from all over the US and watercolour seemed to include Acrylic, Gouache, pen &link as well as traditional watercolour. The subjects of the pictures were from many places, also external to the US.

We had proudly been advised by locals that the exhibition demonstrated for everyone that there was a lot of very good art in the Adirondacks. This exhibition certainly did have quite a lot of good art, but as is the case everywhere, some of its quality is in the eye of the beholder. I can only say, thank goodness to that, as I know not everyone appreciates botanical art. I’m of course glad that some do.

This photo was taken as we came out of the exhibition. The centre itself was very impressive and worked really well in exhibiting artwork.

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We carried on up to Blue Mountain Lake, intending to go into a museum there. However, the entry fee was a lot more than we wanted to pay for only having a quick look, rather than dedicating the day to taking in the history of the Adirondacks.

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This is the view we had whilst eating our lunch. Today the wind was up and there were waves on all the lakes we passed. Yesterday, everything had been wind-still.

We had thought about making our way up to Lake Placid and the High Peaks, before wending our way back to Old Forge. But we dropped in at a place calling itself ‘The Trading Post’ to get a cup of coffee. During the conversation, we mentioned what we had intended, the lady there came after us as we were leaving saying we ought to change our minds and do something else. She suggested that a few miles along the road there was a track leading up Coney Mountain, with fantastic views on the top.

Of course, as you realise, we have been very obedient to the advice we have been given along the way and have actually done some fantastic things we might not have done otherwise. Although not really clad for the hike, we had fairly strong sandals and some water, so found the track and did as we were told. What can I say! If a local gives advice and your gut feeling is in rhythms with it, go for it!

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Look at the colour of these leaves, and they are on the ground!

On the way up, we met three pleasant couples. One couple in particular were really helpful and if they read this, thank you. We explained that we were taking this trail on the spur of the moment and were not really prepared. They had some written information about the climb and what we would see on the top. They gave it to us and it made everything so much more interesting in knowing what we were actually seeing. I had filmed a video that I had intended including in this blog. Unfortunately it won’t download for some reason, so I can’t include it. Still it was a fantastic 360 degree view of the Adirodacks, with the high peaks in the distance. We may not have gone to Lake Placid, but we had a rough idea of its position from our viewpoint on Coney mountain.

However, I will include a few more pictures of our return journey down the mountain and on our way back to Old Forge. The crickets continue to rub their legs together!

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Tuesday in the Adirondacks

I can’t say the word ‘phenominal’ as my mouth gets in the way, but I can write about it today.

We had a really super time with our friends near New Bedford, a busy time in Pittsburgh – although the bag carrier (that’s what Robin calls himself), had a relaxing touristy time there. Thanks to our friends in New Bedford, we were persuaded that the Adirondacks was a good place to do Leaf peeping. It is fantastic. And, the weather couldn’t be better. In fact I think its due to turn much colder next week.

Although I mentioned ‘leaf peeping’ in the title of the blog yesterday, I didn’t say what it is. Whilst in Pittsburgh, we noticed that on the back page with the temperatures, there is also a section for leaf peeping. It shows where the autumnal colours will be peeking on the east coast of the US. People actually take trips up to the Adirondacks, New Hampshire (obviously named after Hampshire at home), and Vermont, to chase the Autumn colour at its peek. We are chasing the Autumn colours from a static point.

Having got to a place called Old Forge yesterday, we found a very decent motel with an extremely helpful lady manning the office. The room is clean and comfortable and the lady continues to be very helpful. I bought some single servings of coffee thinking it would help us, but didn’t know how to use them. I asked the lady and it seems I had got coffee you needed a special machine for. She offered to make some for us on her personal machine, but in the end agreed to swap what we had bought for some we could use in our room. As I said she is very helpful. By the way, the name of the motel is the Blue Spruce.

As we are so comfortable and getting on in years(!!!!), we have decided to make our base at the Blue Spruce Motel in old Forge and stay here until we have to make our way towards Boston on Friday for the flight on Saturday.

This morning, the sun shone although a little chilly, we had a very simple breakfast (quick oats in a pot), did some shopping getting some salad for lunch, then packed a bag to go for a walk through the woods. Our landlady had suggested a route and we followed this. However, we went a lot further than she had suggested, extending the walk along a snow-mobile track. These are some of the pictures taken before reaching our destination for the morning.

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Note the bag carrier. He has my painting gear – and a little of his own- on his back and our lunch in his hand. I carried my handbag!

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We walked along this beautiful path in the woods and suddenly came on a small Dam on the river. Beautiful.

Now you see why I have become a botanical artist. Have you ever seen such beautiful foliage? We decided to stop, have our salad and then paint. This was the view.

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Both Robin and I were disappointed with our artistic attempts. I am not a good landscape painter anyway, so was consoled with this. But how can you interpret such beauty onto mere paper?

After a few hours sitting in the sun, we made our way back to the Motel. On the way we saw more deer. Apparently they love the apple fallers and spend a lot of time going from garden to garden.

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We have just had our supper – fairly simple this time – after so much fresh air we are worn out.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring. By the way, forgot to mention the crickets. And two final pictures to show why you just can’t beat God by replicating his pictures.

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Monday – Leaf Peeping

Before going back to our motel in Wellsboro, we did some window shopping after eating supper. Robin felt he needed another pair of trousers and I saw a shirt and waistcoat – which I didn’t need!

We got up lazily this morning as we felt we didn’t need to rush anywhere and I also felt it was the first day of my true holiday. We had a week to get back to Boston (Saturday) for our flight home. The sun was shining as it has done every day (except one morning) since we arrived in the US. The plan was to walk up Main Street, get a map which included the Adirondacks, and have a look at the things we had seen in the shop windows – on sale I hasten to add.

Going to the book shop was better than going to an information office. We got the map we wanted plus loads of hints as to good routes to take. At the same time we got a couple more talking books. A friend of ours at home has really got us into these and apart from the magnificent views we are seeing constantly, the books really help the travelling time speed away. Our friends will now have some long books to catch up on when we get back home! I hope they will enjoy our choice.

We had decided that we wanted to get up to the Adirondacks in one go so that we might spend a couple of days here. We chose routes that were for the most not main highways. We wanted to see the country. The leaves were getting more autumnal as we went, except for a couple of places which were obviously not so high up – where it was still pretty green. I don’t want to bore you with aaaa-ll the pictures of the scenery that I took whilst Robin drove, but compare them with our arrival in the US and you also will see a massive change.

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A lot of the roads we have taken today are marked as ‘scenic’. They were. The picture of the red trees behind our rented car, was on our stop to eat the salad we had bought first thing this morning. We stopped off at a resting place. These are incredible places. They are lovely buildings kept clean and tidy, with automats for buying hot drinks or snacks, plus loos. They are definitely not like the manned service areas seen on the UK motorways.

We got up to the Adirondacks about 17:00 and we stopped once more for a cup of tea and this was the view.

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Driving slowly through parts of this beautiful area in the mountains, we chose a motel where we are now booked in. There is a lot to choose from up here as it is a tourist area. However, I think that we are lucky in that this is mid week and I believe that Leaf peepers don’t get going until the first whole week in October. People say though, that the weather has been exceptional and the colours are magnificent this year because of the warm dry days and cold nights. I took this photo shortly before we found the motel and just before sunset.

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Once esconsed, I ask for recommendations of eating places. Silly me. I thought across the road was a literal description. I also thought that a ‘little further along’ was just as literal! We walked!!!!!! But having said that, we did need some exercise and particularly after having eaten a particularly good meal.

One thing I didn’t mention about the Adirondacks, is that they have a lot of deer. They are called White-tailed deer. Apparently these animals raise their tufts of a tail when they are disturbed. We saw a couple of deer fairly early on and were amazed as they didn’t seem to want to hide themselves. Then we saw a car in front of us stop to allow one to amble across the road. Then we saw a couple in a garden. But this one surprised me. It cut across our path when walking back after our supper. I quickly took out my camera thinking it would be long gone. It stayed for a photo-shoot with my flash on. The first pictures show the tail clearly hanging down. It remained down throughout, but I thought I would show you these two pictures.

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Notice that the deer still calmly licks his lips after a tasty morsel.

I am hoping to get a chance to paint a little tomorrow as we intend to stay at least one whole day here.

Sunday- travelling away from Pittsburgh

Sunday- departing Pittsburgh

Last night before writing the blog, we packed. Therefore early-ish this morning we left the hotel. We decided to get on our way as there were going to be other ‘home-coming’ events including a marathon in Pittsburgh. We met a load of departing botanical artists and one or two tagging-along husbands, boarding a shuttle to the airport. There were one or two tagging-along wives at the event too, so I don’t want to appear discriminatory!

Unfortunately we were slightly late (By seconds), so didn’t get away in time to drive our planned route before it was closed off. We therefore found our way around the back Streets of Pittsburgh to get away from the university area where most of the things were going on. It feels a little like being a peeping Tom when going through really shabby and run down areas. I could certainly understand why the botanic gardens wanted to get children from poor backgrounds to learn about growing things in their own neighbourhoods. Introducing something like that might encourage them out of areas similar to what we saw and help them to integrate out into the world.

We eventually got out of the city and were so glad that the couple to whom we had offered a lift to the airport had refused. I don’t think we could have made it in time for their flight and would have made their situation worse. I hope they read this and did make their flight.

After about a comfortable hour’s drive, we stopped off to have some breakfast. There was also a shop nearby, with delicatessen etc. we decided to be very sensible (for lunch), and buy a salad, apples – and cashews!!! Then we went into the diner next door and had an American style breakfast. Not pancakes as we had those last week and vowed not to have them again. They were huge, thick and doughy. No, this time we had 3 eggs, bacon fried to a crisp, hashed potatoes and toast – each! We had as much coffee as we wanted and were asked if we wanted to take some with us – free of charge. You don’t see that in England, although I suppose we should have restricted the size of the breakfast. It was worse than a full English breakfast calorie-wise.

We drove north towards Eirie and then turned right across the top of Pensylvania along Route 6. This is off the main highway so we drove through towns and villages seeing some lovely countryside. We seemed to climb steadily and as we did so the trees got more yellow and red. It remained sunny and warm so we were able to really enjoy the journey ( listening to an un-abridged exciting book via the CD player).

At lunchtime, we found a lovely area by the side of a river to eat our lunch. It was really spoilt by tiny, biting insects. But my husband did see his first, second and third chipmunk. We beat a hasty retreat and continued our evermore colourful journey. At one point which was quite high, the red was really impressive.

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Now we are in a motel in a place called Wellsboro. It is near an area they call the Pennsylvania Grand Canon. Unfortunately it is quite shallow where we are, so doesn’t give the impression of Grand Canyon – at least here. The motel is meant to have Internet, but I think you have to catch it as it flies past. I haven’t been quick enough yet, so I am writing this in a word processing application and will copy and paste if I get the chance. This blog is our travel diary.

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