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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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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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.