Opinion: Foliage, history are worth the trip

October 18, 2012


I’ve just returned from a ten-day trip to the Adirondacks, to a small town near Lake Champlain. My wife and I drove both ways with one of our dogs, a small Corgi named Fanny. It was an extremely interesting trip on several counts.

First, it was my first trip to this part of the Adirondacks, where my wife has a small farm. We deliberately planned to arrive when the fall foliage was at its height. The colors were simply amazing. It’s hard to explain in words the way the “High Peaks” blaze with oranges and reds of every hue during mid-October.

One morning, when the night was particularly chilly, we awoke to see snow-capped peaks blending into orange foliage on the highest mountains. As much as I love Kansas and the Kaw Valley, the breathtaking natural beauty of northern New York is simply unique. I was a bit surprised, only because I haven’t spent much time in this part of New York, at the number of tourists parked by the side of the road taking pictures of the mountains virtually everywhere we traveled. There were literally hundreds — if not thousands — of people out with their cameras focused on the mountains and the changing foliage.

I also was quite taken by the number of Revolutionary War sites, particularly forts, in the region. Here in Lawrence, we’re used to living amid the physical remains of the Civil War. In upstate New York, there aren’t very many Civil War sites (just a few memorials so far as I could see) but the shores of the many Adirondack lakes are dotted with the ruins of stone Revolutionary War-era forts, including the gun emplacements faced out to the water to defend the shore from British attacks. As a history buff, it was fun to see the remains of another, earlier period in our national history that we don’t see here at home.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the visits my wife and I made to see her friends, most of whom are weavers and spinners, many who live across Lake Champlain in Vermont. Upstate New York and Vermont are sheep country and there are, apparently, hundreds of men and women who practice the art of weaving and spinning. My wife is a weaver and a spinner so I got a chance to go with her to visit a number of her friends and even attend a “spin in.” I don’t much about fabric art, but I was fascinated both by the wheels and looms they use, including some that are hundreds of years old, and by the incredible textiles they produce. I was shown one of the women’s “overshot” shawl and, I must admit, it was incredible looking. It made me realize that I’m going to have to watch my wife at work at her looms and her wheels more seriously than I have done in the past.

Finally, I have to comment on the adventure of staying at motels with a dog. I prepared for the trip by finding a website called “Bringfido.com.” It lists every hotel and motel in the United States that permits dogs to stay in rooms with their owners. I picked two different motels to try, one on the way to New York and the other on the way back home to Kansas. Both were in Ohio. The one on the way out, whose name I’ll not disclose, was friendly, but not terribly clean. The one at which we stopped on the way home, the Hilton Express in Huber Heights, Ohio, was terrific. The folks there were exceptionally helpful and welcoming, and the room was terrific. My wife and I, and our dog, were very happy there.

So, my basic message to those readers who have never been to upstate New York or to the neighboring New England states, Vermont in particular, for the fall foliage season is simple: You really must go. Make sure that you visit in late September or early October. The mountains, the foliage, and the historical sites are fantastic. And the people are friendly and helpful, just like here at home.

— Mike Hoeflich, a distinguished professor in the Kansas University School of Law, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.


blindrabbit 5 years, 8 months ago

Why take a British Corgi to Revolutionary War site, take a good olde American Chesapeake Bay Retriever instead! We beat them redcoats already, why give the Brits any satisfaction! . Except Mick Jagger and the Stones.

Always a battle for leaf peepers between Upstate New York, Vermont and New Hampshire, aim for Columbus Day, but don't call October 12 that name to Native Americans

Mike Hoeflich 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually, the Corgi is Welsh. They were also colonized by the English. Mike

adkspinner 5 years, 8 months ago

Sue MacIntire is the weaver of that gorgeous overshot shawl you mentioned. She's graciously allowed me to post a link to a picture of her shawl. http://tinyurl.com/9b3hj5l

Thanks, Sue!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.