Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October - Part One

Kris here.

One of the major objectives of this trip has been accomplished: to witness the fall colors of New England. Local residents predict that the foliage will not be as colorful as it usually is, but we are enjoying it all the same. We are now back in Johnstown visiting Brian's mother and the trees outside her window are now dropping their leaves. We love seeing the splashes of color on the mountains here in western Pennsylvania.

 near Smugglers' Notch, Vermont

Since our last installment, we spent some time in the Green Mountains National Forest in western Vermont, specifically the Moosalamoo Recreation Area (I love that word "Moosalamoo" – it just rolls off the tongue,) We happened across the Robert Frost Trail on our way to Texas Falls after camping in a nearly deserted campground. Mr. Frost lived and worked nearby and it was quite peaceful to walk in the woods, stopping to read his poems that were on posts along the trail. It was very easy to see how the surroundings and seasons influenced his work. The leaves were beginning to change colors a bit and a nip in the air added to the enjoyable experience.

 Robert Frost Trail, Vermont

 a carpet of fall leaves on the Robert Frost Trail

Texas Falls, Green Mountains National Forest

A visit to Texas Falls was obligatory and then we headed south to Proctor, Vermont to the Vermont Marble Museum. Another learning experience for us and we saw how marble was used to build churches and a bridge in the town; even the front of the fire station was made of marble. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and columns for the U.S, Supreme Court were fabricated here.

 Vermont Marble Museum
Marble Church in Proctor, Vermont

Next on the itinerary was Hyde Park, NY to see the FDR Home and Presidential Library and Eleanor Roosevelt's retreat Val-Kill. We spent more time at the Library than we had planned on and really wanted time at the ER National Historic Site. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see FDR's Top Cottage before it closed for the day. We left the Hudson River Valley without visiting West Point because we toured that interesting site with our children years ago.

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt sculpture

On to Massachusetts! As we were approaching Springfield, I searched for upcoming geocaches and saw one called "The Cat in the Hat and Friends" at the Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden. Of course, that interested us. After visiting, the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, we walked three blocks down the street to the sculpture garden behind the City Library. What a great place and a prime example of how geocaching leads us to places we would never know about on our own. The bronze sculptures ranged from a large Horton the Elephant to the small Lorax and a tower of turtles with Yertle on top.

 Behind City Library in Springfield, Massachusetts

 Kris, Theodore Geisel, and The Cat in the Hat

 Brian with The Grinch and Max

 Horton the Elephant

 Yertle and the turtles

The Lorax

After leaving Springfield (where Theodore Geisel,aka Dr. Seuss, was born) we drove north a bit and exited the interstate for a geocache in Amherst where we saw a sign for the Eric Carle Museum of  Picture Book Art. Okay, let's go! Bummer – the museum was closed because it was Monday. Well, now we have a reason to return to Amherst someday.

By this time, we were waking up to temperatures in the mid 30s and knowing that the Massachusetts state parks were going to close in a few days (in fact, some were already closed for the season), we began to seriously think about moving southward. We abandoned a tentative plan to pay a return visit to Boston and spent a few days in Rhode Island and Connecticut instead. We passed through Hartford and stopped to hike to the top of Talcott Mountain (as recommended by a friend who grew up in nearby Simsbury). Quite a view from the observation deck of Heublein Tower at the top!
 view from Talcott Mtn. near Simsbury, Conn.

Heublein Tower on Talcott Mtn.

Next, we found ourselves crossing the Hudson River again to get to New Jersey for visits to Thomas Edison National Historical Park and Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park. We enjoyed both sites and camped in two NJ state parks before heading to Philadelphia to visit a childhood friend of Brian's (who happens to be a third cousin – they share great great grandparents). It was a relief to leave the crazy NJ drivers behind! Since we found ourselves back in Brian's home state of Pennsylvania, we made a 5 hour drive from Phila. to Johnstown to visit his mother for a few days. To be truthful, a few days off the road was needed and the truck was due for another oil change. This stop also gave us a chance to make a Skype visit with the kids and grandkids. (BTW, grandchild #3 is due in March... yippee!) We have been gone from home for 113 days now and have covered 15,000 plus miles.

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, NJ

 Edison Memorial Tower - recently refurbished and awaiting rededication
(nothing of the Menlo Park laboratory exists any longer)

with the sun directly behind the giant pyrex glass bulb

My part now (Brian).

As usual, Kris covered the major parts. About the only things she didn't say was that we visited the state museum where Edison had his first lab [and became known as the Wizard of Menlo Park] and learned a lot more about him than we did at West Orange, where his second lab was. The tour guide was a gentleman that grew up in the area, and he gave a VERY good talk about Mr. Edison's most productive years.

The other thing she left out was that the timing worked out very well for the second visit with my Mother. It has been two years since my father passed away. It has been on my mind that we might end up here around this time, and we ended up here just in time. I hadn't mentioned the possibility, because if I had, I think she would have heard the "be here" part, but not the "might" part.

As we talk about the return trip, it looks like we will still be seeing interesting things. Our 'last leg' will most likely be as long as most vacations for other folks. We continue to count our blessings, and frequently say out loud how lucky we are to be able to be on this grand adventure.

Miscellaneous (seen while geocaching):

 unnamed church in New Jersey
 peaceful morning in Massachusetts

 "Herbie and King" in Vermont

Along a road in Vermont

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