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Posts Tagged ‘autumn colors’

The many interpretive and information signs along the parkway enhanced my experience of the parkway. It was also great to drive a road where Mother Nature was the focus of all the attention. — Photo by Pat Bean

            “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S Elliot

Adventures with Pepper: Days 37

            It was a cold morning in Ashville but it warmed up quickly. This last day’s drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway was the steepest, the road traveling up to 6,047 feet, just slightly less than half the altitude of the highest point of 12,183 feet on Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park, which I drove near the start of this meandering journey to Texas.

While I didn’t stop at every overlook I know I got over half of them. — Photo by Pat Bean

In addition to being the steepest, today’s colors were among the most brilliant, meeting all my expectations of catching Miss Appalachian in her finest autumn dress.I stopped for lunch at the 3,570 Stony Bald Overlook at the 402 mile marker, and looked out at layer upon layer of color and mountain ridges.

“Wow!” I said to Pepper as she chewed her pork-skin bone while I ate a peanut butter and orange marmalade sandwich.

Thirty-point-four miles, half a dozen stops and  two hours later, Pepper and I were standing at the Richard Balsam overlook at that 6,047 feet for a zillionth replay of beauty and color.

Ponds always stopped me for a closer look, and this one had a great short hiking trail to go with it. Ahhhh. Blue Ridge Parkway I’ll miss you. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Where in Texas you from?” I heard a voice say from behind me.  Because of my Texas license plates I heard those same words at least once a day on the parkway. Many of the speakers were Texans themselves.

I suspected the speaker probably wasn’t really interested in the answer. The question was just the icebreaker for sharing a few minutes of conversation with a stranger. It’s one of the rituals of traveling – a ritual I love.

Book Report: I wanted to skip reporting about Travels with Maggie today. I’m sure you know why. And today, after posting this, I have a 300-mile road trip to make, from Dallas to the Texas Gulf Coast via Interstate 45. I think I’ll be listening to an audible book as I hate freeways, but I have loved ones waiting for me at the end of the trip so the drive will be worth it.           

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Beans Pat: http://tinyurl.com/bzttg42 This one just seemed appropriate for today. My wish is that this time around the losers will help the winners do what is in the best interests of the country, and that the winners will put the interests of the country above personal ambitions or gain. OK. I’m a dreamer.

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Fall in Colorado's San Juan National Forest -- Photo by Pat Bean

“If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.” — Nadine Stair

Travels With Maggie

I thought I knew what route I wanted to drive today, but the travel gods knew differently.

Outside of Chama, New Mexico, I zigged instead of zagged. Never have I been more delighted for my lack of a sense of direction.

I had been at this same intersection several times before, but always when I was headed to Santa Fe. This time I planned to pass through Taos– so it just seemed logical that I would turn left instead of right. Perhaps I was distracted by that magical moment of sunrise that was happening when I reached the fork in the road. That fraction of a second when the world goes from a quiet gray that hides all details to a glowing glow that brings the world to life is my favorite part of any day. I don’t experience this moment often so when I do, I absorb it fully.

Cumbres and Toltec Railroad engine warming up at the summit -- Photo by Pat bean

Up where the air is thin.

For whatever reason, however, I didn’t notice my mistake until a road marker told me I was crossing back into Colorado. By this time I was driving through a landscape so fantastic that there was no way I would have turned around, even if it meant adding 200 miles to the trip.

In reality, it only made my day’s drive 19 miles longer. My error had put me on Highway 17 instead of Highway 64, and took me on a northern instead of a southern loop to Taos. My mistake took me high into the San Juan National Forest and over the 10,000-foot-plus Cumbres and Conejos passes.

At the top of Cumbres Pass, a Cumbres and Toltec Railroad engine was warming up for one of its scenic tourist expeditions that begin in Chama. I would have stopped to explore the train museum in Chama except it hadn’t yet opened when I passed through the rustic town. Seeing the engine here, with smoke churning from its stack as it sat on the narrow guage tracks, made up for that. Before catering to tourists, trains ran through this beautiful landscape to serve the area’s silver mines.

A view from Cumbres Pass -- Photo by Pat Bean

The best part of my day, however, were the golden mountain sides. Autumn was in full bloom – and I knew I was fortunate to get to see it because I was headed to Texas where fall is mostly a matter of leaves turning brown and falling off the trees. Of course there are exceptions, but nothing as vast and brilliant as what I was seeing this day.

By the time I got to Taos, which was late in the afternoon because I lingered so long in the high forest, I abhorred its trendy and crowded atmosphere and drove through without stopping. Mother Nature had fulfilled all my sight-seeing needs this day.

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