Top New England Fall Foliage Spots – 2009

New England is poised to put on quite a Fall Foliage display this year – Fall 2009. Hurricane Bill has passed with minor damage – the leaves are still on the trees waiting for the autumn weather to arrive. Its just around the corner – by mid-September, the show starts at the higher elevations.  As in the past, we have to stay flexible – we suggest visiting our friends at Foliage Network for the latest Fall Foliage Reports.  The best fall foliage viewing in the US is in New England (fans of the golden Colorado fall colors may disagree), so we will pick from these destinations for a few weekend “Fall Foliage Staycations” this year:

  • Around Columbus Day more people show up in Vermont than have ever lived there.  Vermont Fall Foliage is truly world-class.  Combined with some harvest festivals and visits to quaint towns and you can’t go wrong.  If the kids are not impressed by the views, take them to Ben and Jerry’s factory of overload them on maple sugar.
  • Maine Fall Foliage is best along the coast.  You get the colorful leaves as well as a rocky coast. Something you will not get in Vermont.
  • If Vermont is too quaint and Maine too far, go for some historic and urban Boston Massachusetts fall foliage, which is also a good idea once the Vermont colors have peaked. Another choice urban spot, on the border of New England is New York City – think Central Park, the Cloisters, the Ice Age ponds of Alley Pond Park and more for some subway-accessible NY foliage.
  • Also bordering New England – Hudson Valley and Catskills Fall Foliage is a great day trip from New York. Try a biplane ride in Rhinebeck or enjoy the views from the Hudson River mansions.

Have a fun fallstaycation!  Save some vacation time for ski season.
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Top 12 places to play Golf

I need to thank Jon for reminding me to do this. A few months ago I reported to you about public golf courses ranked 13-24 according to Golfer’s World magazine and since they’ve finally posted their top 12, I’m ready to pass them over to you. I find it strange that there are no New England golf courses represented on this list. In fact, the only one from the East Coast at all is number six, Kiawah Island Ocean Course in South Carolina, which I’ve been to, and which truly is worthy of it’s placement there. I’m just surprised there aren’t more East Coast chart toppers.

Anyways, enjoy the list, and hopefully I’ll make it to all of these, one day so I can give more first hand experience…

  1. Pacific Dunes – Bandon, Oregon
  2. Links at Spanish Bay – Pebble Beach, California
  3. Pebble Beach Golf Links – Pebble Beach, California
  4. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort & Course – Bandon, Oregon
  5. Whistling Straits Golf Club – Kohler, Wisconsin
  6. Kiawah Island – Ocean Course – South Carolina
  7. Shadow Creek – North Las Vegas, Nevada
  8. Kauai Lagoon Golf Club – Kiele Course – Lihue, Hawaii
  9. Reflection Bay Golf Club & Course – Lake Las Vegas, Nevada
  10. Spyglass Hill Golf Club – Pebble Beach, California
  11. Troon North Monument – Scottsdale, Arizona
  12. Red Sky Ranch – Wolcott, Colorado

Looks like I need to start planning some vacations to Vegas Pebble Beach, and Bandon, Oregon
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Some more places to go Golfing

A while ago I posted a list of 10 Great Places to go for the Green (Golfing) and now I was browsing a blog I follow and found another list. This is from The Golfer’s World and highlights the best U.S. public courses. Larry Olmsted is the author of the blog and has started with number 24 and has so far worked his way down to number 8. So today I’ll do 24-13 and when he finishes (in December), I’ll post his top 12 choices (remind me). So here ya go, golf enthusiasts:
24. Harbour Town Golf Links – Hilton Head, South Carolina
23. Blackwolf Run – Kohler, Wisconsin
22. The Dunes – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
21. Dorals’ Blue Monster – Miami, Florida
20. The Boulders Resort Golf Club – South Course – Carefree, Arizona
19. Sunriver Resort – Sunriver, Oregon
18. Manele Bay – Challenge Course – Lanai City, Hawaii
17. Pinehurst #2 – Pinehurst, North Carolina
16. Tobacco Road – Sanford, North Carolina
15. Madden’s Lake – Classic Course – Brainerd, Minnesota
14. Primm Valley – Lakes Course – Primm, Nevada
13. Kapalua Golf Club – Plantation Course – Lahaina, Hawaii
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New Orchid Species Discovered at Yosemite

Okay, so this discovery is already a year old, but I came across this MSNBC article just now as I was planning my last trip to Yosemite National Park (I went with some buddies last week).

There is a new species of orchid that can be found only in the wet meadow of Yosemite. The flowers have long spears with yellow colored mini ball-shaped buds. It’s not the appearance which stands out and helped with its discovery, but its smell, or rather, I should say, stench. Botanist Alison Colwell likens the smell to sweaty feet—and she’s right, I recently discovered for myself.

Meanwhile, I had fun up there. I went with four other guys, one of whom just got married last night, so it was a sort of bachelor long weekend adventure. We hiked Yosemite and went rafting on the Merced River. We stayed at the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino where we lost a shitload of money and drank a shitload of alcohol—which is why, come to think of it, why we lost so much money.

But hey, you’re only young once.

(Thanx Alison Colwell / AP and MSNBC)

New State Park in Washington State

Great news for the West Coast! Washington State has just opened its first new state park in more than a decade. Located on the southwest shore of Camano Island is the brand new Cama Beach State Park.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen calls the new state park “a jewel”, according to the article in USA Today, which also explains how the park-making process was a bit delayed after archeologists uncovered human remains and Native American artifacts dating back 1,600 years. It’s the Tulalip, Swinomish, Upper Skagit and Stillaguamish tribes that occupy that area who opposed the construction and renovations of the park. An agreement was made to leave the north side of the property undeveloped to preserve the cultural history of the ancient Native American village. Reservations for the new park are already filled through the summer.

While you’re in that area, check out other national and state parks in the area:

  1. Olympic National Park
  2. Deception Pass State Park
  3. Moran State Park
  4. North Cascades National Park
  5. Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

See ya there.
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Yosemite’s mighty treedom

People spend their entire lives studying the trees in Yosemite National Park. Some of the world’s oldest, tallest, and most beautiful trees are found in Yosemite and the nearby Sierra National Forest.

Sequoias are the famed great giants, with the oldest and most magnificent being the Grizzly Giant, standing strong for 2,700 years. Really is something. It’s 30 feet thick and 20 stories tall. It’s in the Wawona region of Yosemite in the Mariposa Grove.

Check out prettysleepy’s blogpost for a good list of famous trees in Yosemite worth visiting. Good pictures, great explanations.

It would be silly not to mention the Avenue of the Giants here. The Avenue is a 31 mile scenic portion of highway located in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Obviously you should get out of your car and hike through Founder’s Grove, Gould Grove, or the Burlington Beach trail. Redwoods are one of California’s claims to fame, so you should get well acquainted on this little excursion.

Other great spots for fulfilling treehugging fantasies include Praire Creek Redwoods State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and Redwood National and State Parks.

Stay tuned for more California nature buzz….

Related Travel Guide Topics:

Drop the coffee and run!

I’ve been almost everywhere in California and I will continue to keep traveling until I’ve hit it all. Other people need to get out more and see what’s outside their drive to and from work. There are five times as many Starbucks in Santa Monica as there are national parks in the entire United States. Of the 58 national parks in the U.S., eight are in California, and I have been to all of them. There are ONLY EIGHT, people, so get your lazy asses out of Starbucks and conquer the great outdoors of California.

  1. Death Valley National Park – I was here with my family when I was eight and then again (without my family) when I was 18. It was about 110 degrees both times.
  2. Joshua Tree National Park – The Joshua Tree is a type of yucca and the namesake of one of a U2 album. It is a 1980s rock and roll symbol that has brought the Joshua Tree Park attention and a cult following. (Obviously I’ve been here.)
  3. Lassen Volcanic National Park – A truly amazing place, unusually empty (the time I was there at least). Bumpass Hell is a geothermal area with lakes and hot springs – it was named for an explorer who lost a leg in one of the boiling pools, so be careful.
  4. Redwood National and State Parks – This is a fieldtrip for school kids, so if you haven’t been yet, just stop reading now and go.
  5. Sequoia National Park – Park of the Sierra Nevada range and definitely worth visiting. Crystal Cave is particularly interesting as well as Kern Canyon.
  6. Yosemite National Park – A must for anyone who calls themselves Californians, or Americans at that.
  7. Kings Canyon National Park – Do this with Sequoia National Park—go for a week or a long weekend, campout, and enjoy the giant trees and mountains that surround you.
  8. Channel Islands National Park – I went here as a little kid and saw a whale. That’s all I remember. I’ll have to revisit this one soon.

Do these things and then call yourself a Californian.