Leaf Looking

 Beaver Pond - Photo by Paul Davenport

Beaver Pond - Photo by Paul Davenport

Take a deep breath and picture yourself in first-class seating on your favorite airline. You have plenty of knee room, and the seat beside you is empty so you can spread out. The flight attendant has just been by to drop off that drink you requested and a small plate of appetizers. What a wonderful way to start your vacation.

You fly into Boston, and the weather is beautiful – cool, but not cold. The first day of your trip you take a streetcar tour and see the historical sites. Maybe you wander down the street where they made Cheers, and you find the small, ancient cemetery across the road. You marvel at how old the tombstones are.

The next day you take the luxurious rental car you have been given, and you hit the road, heading up the coast to Portland, Maine. Perhaps you’re from the Gulf Coast like I am, so you find it shocking to see that they build houses right on the beach without bothering to put them on stilts.

As you move through Maine, you might be astonished to see that when the tide is out the boats are left sitting on the mud in the harbor, and there are piles of discarded lobster shells under the docks. On the Gulf Coast the beaches are made of sand, but in Maine, they’re rock with beautiful little flowers growing in the cracks. But the most humorous difference is when you realize they have lobster rolls on the McDonald’s menu.

Maybe you spend the night in Maine, and for dinner you have lobster. You might laugh when the waiter helps you put on your bib, or gives you lessons on how to crack the shell. Perhaps you are with friends, and you laugh at each other when someone cracks the shell in the wrong place and gets squirted in the eye with juice.

The next day you head west into New Hampshire. You're shocked to find the most beautiful pond right there beside the road. You can’t resist – you pull over to take a few pictures.

 Beaver Pond, Different View - Photo by Paul Davenport

Beaver Pond, Different View - Photo by Paul Davenport

As you stand there, so excited by the beauty it’s hard to hold your camera steady, a man walks up and says hello. He’s the owner of the property. The pond was created because of a beaver dam, and the dam has gotten so large it’s cut the water flow off to the rest of his property. Perhaps the man’s accent is different from yours, I know it would be different from mine, but he’s nice, and he offers to show you the beaver dam.

You visit and learn about the beavers and their habits as you watch him remove a few of the top logs off the dam so the water can flow once more, and possibly you explain that there aren’t any beavers where you’re from. What a wonderful experience you’ve had. You almost hate to say goodbye, but you’ve got to get back on the road.

As you travel further west, you take little side roads, so you can see covered bridges and enjoy the bump, bump sound of the boards as you drive across them. One of the roads takes you to the longest covered bridge in America, or at least that’s what the sign says.

You stop at a small store to get a snack, and there you encounter kind, gentle ladies in long, black dresses, white bib aprons, and lace caps. They came to the store in a buggy pulled by a horse.  The ladies are so interesting, you wish you had at least an hour to visit with them and learn about their Quaker lifestyle, but the road is calling, and you must move on.

As you reach White Mountain National Forest, the trees really start to get beautiful. There are scenic overlooks along the two-lane road that loops through the forest, and you stop at each one to take a few pictures. Finally, you find the river, and you truly understand why the road is considered one of the scenic highlights for leaf lookers.

 River Rapids - Photo by Paul Davenport

River Rapids - Photo by Paul Davenport

Perhaps you watch as someone you love clambers around on the rocks trying to get a picture from the middle of the river, or you stand under a large maple tree and watch the sun shining through the scarlet leaves and think of stained glass.

People from all over the world are there taking pictures, in awe of the beauty, but it doesn’t seem crowded. The sounds you hear are the sounds of wind blowing through the leaves and water rushing over the rocks, not people. You stay for what seems like minutes, but in reality, it’s hours, until you finally have to leave so you can reach your next hotel and dinner.

Too soon you’re back in Boston catching the plane home, but even though the trip was short, you feel rested and restored by the beauty you’ve seen along the way, and the kind and friendly people you’ve met.

I hope you enjoyed our virtual vacation together, and that in some small way it has helped you to feel more rested and restored. Leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve ever taken a trip like this and where you went. Happy traveling.

 Vibrant Natural Colors - Photo by Paul Davenport

Vibrant Natural Colors - Photo by Paul Davenport