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Autumn Colors: Leaf Me Out of It

John Deiner

First, the good news: According to the Vermont Department of Marketing and Tourism, the foliage way up north is looking pretty sharp these days. Here's I learned from a press release received on Thursday afternoon: "The color change is accelerating rapidly at the higher elevations along the spine of the Green Mountains, with mid-stage color in the north and brightening colors in central and southern Vermont. The mountains and hillsides of the Northeast Kingdom are making a timely change this year, a pattern that flows down the length of Vermont as spotters report brightening changes at higher elevations."

Now the bad news: I don't care.

Fall is my favorite season by far -- I love the cooler temperatures, pumpkins on the front porch, mums everywhere, etc. Plus it leads into the holiday season, and I'm a sucker for anything Thanksgiving and Christmas. And an even bigger bonus: Lots of places I like to visit (the beach and Florida jump to mind) are pretty empty once the kids head back to school.

And, I have to admit, I love fall foliage. I think it's beautiful -- nature's way of saying "Aren't I pretty? Now rake me up and compost me."

But I've never really been able to understand the patience people exhibit when it comes to foliage in other backyards. Why wait for hours in traffic in the countryside when you can drive along your own street and parts of Montgomery County for some gorgeous displays? Why go to New Hampshire for apple festivals when you can do it out in Loudoun County? Biking under the falling leaves in Upstate New York is nice, but can't you do the same thing out on the Eastern Shore?

And why are so many people willing to pay a premium to see it? I know leaves on a mountainside are lovely, but does that really justify having to pay twice as much for a bed-and-breakfast and being required to stay there for two stinkin' nights?

For those of you who want to know how things are shaping up, check out the U.S. Forest Service Web site, which will tell you everything about those falling leaves.

But before you do that, tell me your thoughts on the matter. Why are other people's leaves so darned enticing? And where do you like to go to stare at 'em?

By John Deiner |  September 24, 2007; 10:05 AM ET  | Category:  John Deiner , Rants
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Ha! I've wondered the exact same thing! What is this whole leaf-based tourism...when the leaves on my parents' street in Silver Spring are perfectly acceptable? And, in fact, quite lovely, as they bring extraordinary beauty to a familiar place.

Posted by: h3 | September 24, 2007 10:30 AM

Last year I ventured down to the tidal basin to view the fall foliage on the cherry trees. Beautiful. And nothing in the Blue Ridge mountains can compare to the fall foliage right here in our own Rock Creek park.

Posted by: Jeff | September 24, 2007 11:02 AM

When my girlfriend and I were on a lake in a wilderness section of the Adirondacks this past weekend, we heard almost nothing: no motorboats, no jet skis, no voices, no boom boxes, no heat pumps, no distant rush of traffic. The only sounds in the miles of silence were the occasional calls of the loons and the late night hooting of an owl. Seeing fall foliage from a kayak in the middle of peace and quiet is something that is impossible to do around DC.

And the views in the Adirondacks vary greatly from any views that can be had in the DC metro area.

Did we go just for the leaves? No. We went for a Fall vacation. The roads are less crowded with families being tied to school. Hotels are easier to book...as are campsites. And the bugs are gone. The foliage, which is better than any foliage within 150 miles of DC, was a bonus.

However, John, you and I have something in common: I feel about Las Vegas the way you feel about fall foliage tours: why bother going?

Posted by: Kayaker | September 24, 2007 4:12 PM

I think the going to Vermont or New Hampshire, staying at a bed and breakfast, seeing the leaves, having apple cider, etc., etc. It's a package. Yes, the leaves in your backyard look nice too, and the water in a backyard pool is just as wet at on a Caribbean island, and there are fascinating things in the public library without need to go to Europe, but I think I might go to Vermont anyway.

Posted by: Rick | September 24, 2007 6:45 PM

Nothing like the NE for for true leaf-peepers. You're not going for the leaves, you're going to see the great landcape in a "new dress" ... a really racy red dress! The pumpkins, mums, frsh air, and peace are the "cherry on a sundae". Wrap New England architecture up in the package; can't beat it.

Posted by: Karen in CT | September 27, 2007 1:01 PM

I grew up in the Pocono montains in PA. Fall foileage there is just as awesome as any place in the east. So peaceful and magical there in the fall. Go see it. It's 4hrs from DC.

Posted by: kathy michel | September 27, 2007 2:50 PM

Oh please, foliage in the DC area is NOWHERE near as good as up north. You just don't get the variety of colors here that you do there.

Posted by: Liz | September 27, 2007 8:18 PM

I cant say that I would take a vacation just to look at leaves, but they're a nice side benefit. I think a place like Ogunquit, ME in the fall would be fun, nice colors - deserted beach - fun people.

Posted by: Carrie Hill | October 2, 2007 10:39 AM

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