Eastern Leaf Tour
Several people asked me (really, I’m not making this up); why didn’t we blog about the recent tour of the east in search of colorful leaves? Since we were so lucky in finding so many gorgeous leaves, I will share some photos and our tidbits of advice on where to find them without going to the traditional, crowded areas of New England.
Every year is somewhat different as to THE peak time, but pre-peak is better than post-peak, so we left Sept. 23rd driving north through WY, NB, SD, and ND. A note on NW Nebraska: the area west of Chadron is spectacular. Someday we will return to Ft. Robinson and spend some time. We were in such a ridiculous hurry we didn’t linger. We still believed we would get to the Maritime Provinces of Canada and back in a month. Ho, ho. Silly us.
Leaves were starting to turn in these states, but we didn’t hit real pay dirt glory until MN and WI. In these northern states the lakes and colors were jaw-droppingly beautiful. Still we barely slowed down to look. Along the southern shore of Lake Superior it began to dawn on us (we’re a little slow) that we were in the midst of incredible beauty so why should we kill ourselves to get to someplace that couldn’t possibly be better? We lopped the trip in half and began to fully appreciate where we were.Michigan’s upper peninsula’s Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and Pictured Rocks Shoreline is worth the journey…no question. We lucked out on a calm Lake Superior for a few days before the weather changed. Craig’s father grew up in Marquette, MI so it was a trip down memory lane for him. I’d never been to the area before.
After crossing into Ontario, Canada at Sioux St. Marie without our passports (I keep forgetting Canada is a foreign country) we skirted Lake Huron heading for the famous Algonquin Provincial Park. A note here. Canada is quite nice about letting Americans in with only a drivers license, but the USA wasn’t quite as pleasant about letting us back in. They relented, but pouted a bit. We were glad we weren’t wearing turbans.The huge Algonquin park was swarming with tourists, especially Asians. The Japanese ladies hiking rough trails in their stylish high heels provoked some unbecoming smirks on our faces. In some of the closed-for-the-season campgrounds we found temporary peace and quiet. There are only a few roads through this massive park, the rest is accessible only by canoe. There are convenient portage campgrounds between the innumerable lakes. We didn’t see much wildlife probably because of the crowds, although there is a lot of land for the wildlife to hide in.
We chose Murphy’s Point provincial park for a few nights before dropping back into the US just below Ottowa to drive through the Adirondacks.
Cornell is probably one of the loveliest of the Ivies.We stopped in at Sapsucker Woods which I knew about because of its world famous work with birds and bird songs. Although birds are scarce in October, the Autumn Meadowhawks and other dragonflies were prolific and a mucky muskrat came out to have a look at us. Leaving NY we had only one other destination before turning west. My good friend Carol Feierabend lives in a new (to her) house on the DelMar peninsula, east of Chesapeake Bay. Having never been there or seen her new digs, off we set through a very busy part of our nation. The eastern shore has a remarkably rural feel to it considering it is so close to Baltimore and DC.
We spent a day at the Blackwater Nat. Wildlife refuge at the southern end of the peninsula. Finally a bit of wildlife and hundreds of colorful fungi!
On the way home we drove through WV, a first for us. The hollows and hills are just as pretty as a song. Fall was starting to turn the leaves, but it would be the end of October before their hills were glowing. Stopped at the Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in the flint hills of Kansas. The tall grasses survived the sod-busters by growing on a thin layer of soil laid over solid, plow-breaking rock. The lovely ranch anchoring the preserve is all made of limestone…down to the fences and 3 hole privy!
For our last night, a lovely Kansas sunset closes the first evening of the whole trip warm enough to sit outside.