This year, we at Gadling have made a pledge to ban a certain phrase from our posts, one that refers to a particular activity that happens (often in New England) around October, when tourists drive around to photograph trees. Still, it’s hard to resist a good autumnal photo of flora. Today’s Photo of the Day does a great job of capturing the mood of the season without a single bit of foliage in sight. Taken by Flickr user Jason Rodman (his second POTD this week, nice!) in Basel, Switzerland, the image depicts a much-loved activity of the yearly fall fair. The people flying above him along with the flags even remind us of the annual shedding of organic material. Who’s ready for a hot gluhwein? This year’s Herbstmesse takes place October 27-November 12.
Autumn, when people travel to the Northeast and Northwest to view colorful fall foliage areas of the United States, peaks around Columbus Day weekend (October 5-8). In many areas, this year’s foliage is in looks to be better and more vibrant than last year. After a dry, hot summer trees will begin to turn color in the next few weeks.
“Hardwood foliage appears to be in better-than-average condition, overall,” says Bill Ostrofsky, a forest pathologist at the Maine Forest Service on Maine Foliage, the state of Maine’s official fall foliage website. “There have been no occurrences of serious or widespread insect defoliation, so to date the Maine forest has the potential to have a great season this year.”
If a road trip, tour or cruise for fall foliage season or just a nice hike in the woods is in your plans, here are some places not to miss.
Camden Hills State Park provides spectacular views of fall foliage available from a road that goes to the top of Mt. Battie, as well as from hiking trails on Mt. Megunticook and Bald Rock Mountain.
Grafton Notch State Park, in Maine’s western viewing area, has roadside turnouts, picnic areas and trails that offer excellent views of the Mahoosuc Mountains and the Presidential Range. Trails lead to popular lookouts, such as the Eyebrow and Table Rock, and trails and lookouts on the Bureau of Parks and Lands’ Mahoosuc Management Unit.The city of Kent, Connecticut was voted “Favorite Foliage Town” in a poll conducted by YankeeFoliage.com, Yankee Magazine’s fall foliage website. A drive to Lake Waramaug is one of several suggested fall foliage-driving tours.
Chatfield Hollow State Park (Killingworth), also in Connecticut, offers Indian caves, wooded trails and jagged rocky ledges fill the park. Oak, beech and hickory trees bring out the best colors of fall and are the perfect setting for a peaceful picnic.
Dinosaur State Park (Rocky Hill) is a good choice for some family action. Kids will love hiking along the wooded trails of the park and seeing Jurassic-period dinosaur tracks that date back 200 years.
Wadsworth Falls State Park (Middletown) offers reddish-brown rocks tinged with green that amplify the fall colors in this hideaway tucked between Middletown and Middlefield. Travelers can enjoy a hike through wooded trails with meandering streams, a covered bridge and waterfalls.
In the Northwest U.S., the state of Washington suggests the Washington Park Arboretum, Mount Baker and Mount Rainier as good choices for fall color. They have a toll-free hotline for more information (1-800-354-4595).
Flickr photo by ra_hurd
Leaf-peepers are about to hit the road in force – as they always do this time of year. While soaking in the burning foliage colors with your eyes, it’s only too easy to forget you’re behind the wheel, a situation that can lead to disastrous consequences. There are some states where beautiful foliage and deer prancing on the streets just seem to go together, according to a study by insurance company State Farm. So, if your autumn plans include scoping out the trees, make sure you look out for deer, too.
Here are the five states where you’re most likely to wind up with Bambi on the hood of your car if you aren’t careful (with the likelihood of doing so):
1. West Virginia: 1 in 42 (I didn’t see this one coming!)
2. Iowa: 1 in 67
3. Michigan: 1 in 70
4. South Dakota: 1 in 76
5. Montana: 1 in 82What’s particularly surprising is that none of the states usually considered to be leaf-peeping destinations made the top five, let alone showed high risk of deer collisions. Massachusetts and New Hampshire are low-risk, with New York, Vermont and Maine only showing medium risk. You’re more likely to wash venison off your hood in Arkansas than you are in New Jersey, a state where deer corpses are not uncommon on the side of the road.
Interestingly, the number of miles driven by U.S. motorists, according to State Farm, has grown only 2 percent in the past five years … while the number of deer/car smacks has surged 20 percent. From July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2010, there were approximately 2.3 million collisions between deer and vehicles. The average cost for an incident was $3,013.
[Chart via Terms + Conditions: Insurance Industry Blog]
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Taking an autumn drive to see the leaves change colors is a time-honored tradition in the north and east of the country. While Kentucky might not be the first place you think of as a leaf-peeping destination, the state is full of scenic byways and rolling countryside to be explored. Plus….there’s bourbon.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is composed of eight distilleries scattered around Lexington, Bardstown and Frankfort, which are all about one hour from Louisville. Autumn is the perfect time to visit. The leaves are changing, the crowds are gone, and the weather is mild. You can fly into either the Louisville or Lexington airport, though flights to Louisville seem to be cheaper.
Four of the distilleries are closer to Bardstown. These are Jim Bean, Heaven Hill, Maker’s Mark, and Tom Moore. Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey, Four Roses and Woodford Reserve are closer to Frankfort. Most are open Tuesday through Saturday (some are open Sundays in summer as well) and offer tours every hour. Tours are generally free, or cost just a few dollars. Tours will often include a walk through the production area, a lesson in the history and production of bourbon, and of course, a tasting session.
You’ll need a car to get between the distilleries, so travel with a designated driver or visit no more than two distilleries per day. You could also book a tour guide and driver with a company like Mint Julep Tours.
Where to Stay
For a more urban experience, look for a hotel in Louisville or Lexington, where you should be able to find a room at a national chain for around $100 per night. You’ll find more bed and breakfast accommodations in the smaller town of Bardstown.
What to Do
Other than visiting the distilleries in the area, you can go also go wine-tasting, visit a Civil War Museum, Kentucky Train Museum, take a two-hour dinner train ride through the vibrantly-colored foliage of the countryside, or visit the Kentucky Horse Park. The Park features a daily parade, equine education, horseback and pony rides, and horse shows.
Fall is here – which means we can all trade in our swim gear for a windbreaker, and head out for some good clean family “fall fun”. One of the most entertaining ways to spend your afternoon is at a corn maze. This year, there are over 200 different mazes, and many of them have been meticulously designed with a specific theme.
If you have never had the joy of getting lost in a corn maze, picture yourself in the middle of a large field, surrounded by nothing but very tall corn stalks. Don’t worry though, a lot of effort went into designing the maze so you don’t get lost for more than
a couple of days half an hour.
Most mazes are at farms where a variety of activities are offered, including hay rides and of course a great assortment of fall foods.
The best way to find a local maze is through the inventor of the corn maze – the MAiZE company. This year, there are 200 maze locations, including several in Canada, one in the UK, Poland and Italy.
Every maze I have been to is was a ton of fun, and very family friendly. Admission is usually around $10, cheaper on week days.