Fall Back

With a little nip in the air it can only mean one thing, fall is here. This time of year most start to dread, because it means winter is just around the corner. It’s dark all the time and everyone is in bulky coats. You could do some serious flirting on the El before you realize the guy is homeless. But there are some perks to fall; the fashion, the leaves changing colors, and the Halloween candy! That said, we took some time out to think about the perks of the leaves turning.

1. Vendanges en France (Kelly)
Everyone is talking about a great fall getaway they have been to. My problem is that I’m not the biggest fall traveler. I lived in Chicago and Minneapolis, so I saw fall, but it was definitely a fleeting moment between 80 degree summer days, and the frozen tundra I had to endure….sometimes in October. So, my choice is actually something I’ve never experienced in the fall, but is on my bucket list.

When I studied French in school, I heard about the best time to visit France. No, not during the busy summer tourist season, but in September and October during les vendanges, or the harvesting of the grapes to make wine. It’s a big celebration in France. You can even help pick the grapes if you are up for some hard work. You can enjoy the vendanges in any of their approximately 27 regions. In the north, you can even take in the foliage. There are also many festivals to celebrate the event. To me, this sounds like the best trip, and best weather you can ask for.

Although I never participated in the harvesting, I did get a chance to partake in the springtime festivities. In the spring, the vines are cut, to promote growth. On the Palais des Papes, there is a small vineyard. All generations in the town gathered at the vineyard in the spring to partake in the ceremonial cutting of the vines. I lent my hands and cut a few, and then went to the nearby cave at the Popes Palace to taste the wine from the previous season. It was so much fun and made me feel like a part of the community. And this was only the cutting of the vines, so imagine how interesting it would be in the fall when the real festivities take place. Sign me up.

2. Chi-Town (Lexie)
I usually never go anywhere during the fall. This is because school has just started up and it is frowned upon to miss the first few weeks of the semester. So the last six years my fall days have been spent in Chicago, which is nothing to complain about. Chicago is a party town, and a little cold weather isn’t going to put a damper on their plans. There is the Half-way marker to St. Patty’s day, Germanfest, and the biggie-football! Every Sunday Funday people belly up to the bar and watch every football game from start to finish. Tonight is an extended weekend since the Bears are playing the Packers (I’m a Packers fan! Shh, don’t tell anyone, Go Pac Go!!)

After all these years though I still have a bucket list of things I still want to do. One thing I have not experienced yet is apple picking. To me it seems like it would be a lot of fun. There are hayrides and endless bushels of apples, how could you not love it?!
Another activity is the haunted ghost tours in the city. I’m a nerd and love a good haunting story (Ghost Hunters is among one of my favorite shows)so have always been eager to jump on the tour bus and take a haunted spin through the city.

3. North Carolina (Scott)
When I think of fall, the first thing that comes to mind is North Carolina.

I grew up in Florida, were autumn leaves only exist in movies and on T.V. The first time I truly got to see fall colors was when I went on a college tour through North Carolina. The campus of my alma mater, Wake Forest, seems to have been built for fall: the school has a healthy population of trees, and is surrounded on all sides by wooded areas. It’s no accident that the admissions office is under a canopy of trees, and that they schedule as many campus tours as possible in October and November.

To get to the serious leaves, though, head for the mountains. Pilot Mountain, located near the city of Mount Airy, is a popular day trip site from the Winston-Salem/Greensboro area. You can drive most of the way up the mountain, where you will find plenty of walking trails and magnificent views of the countryside. Further afield is the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most breathtaking drives in the United States.

4. Washington D.C. (Leslie)
This past weekend I was strolling through my neighborhood farmer’s market and was excited to see that it’s that time of year again…the fall harvest items have started arriving! By far, my favorite indicator of fall has always been apple season. Growing up in California, there was basically no difference in the weather, and the leaves didn’t change for too long, so all we had to go on was the decorations in CVS and the arrival of candy corn. But each year my family would make a special trip to an orchard to go apple-picking. Since we moved around, it didn’t matter whether we were in California, Nebraska, Illinois, or anywhere else. This was always a great day or weekend trip, and to this day I enjoy making the trek out of the city to pick several bushels full of Fujis, Granny Smiths, or McIntosh’s, and maybe a pumpkin or two.

An added bonus of this type of fall excursion is that most places have added all sorts of fun activities to the basic orchard apple-picking. You can usually score a hay ride or hay maze, and maybe a petting zoo. In the past, we’ve gone to Michigan from Chicago, Connecticut from Boston, and a little town in the foothills near the desert in California. Oak Glen in California was definitely my favorite, although watch out for ostriches with a death wish if you go! (Side note: don’t just take my word for it – Oak Glen is cool enough to be featured as a destination on RoadTrip America!) If you’re wondering what to do with your haul after you get back from the orchard, never fear there are countless easy recipes to use up any kind of apple. My favorites are the classic apple pie, applesauce (super easy to make!), Hoosier apple cake, and apple cinnamon donuts. So anyone can be a Suzie Homemaker this fall…where else is great for apple picking?

5. Miscellaneous Fall Goodies (Kelly)

I wanted to dedicate the last part to things I love about fall.

  • Getting to dress up for Halloween.  We are dressing up at work, so I’m already trying to think of what to be.  Should I be a three holed punch version of Kelly?
  • Candy corn – How does sugar shaped in a tri-color cone taste so good?  My favorite is the corn, pumpkin mix.
  • Drinking hot apple cider.  It always reminds me of one fall going grocery shopping with the basement guys in Chicago, and finding out they stole 2 cartons of cider….really guys….really
  • The first day of the cool air.  What is it about that day?  Its very magical, and sad at the same time.
  • building a campfire on a cool night.  We already did that in August in Minnesota, so does that mean that fall started for me over a month ago?  Yikes.
  • football season.  Its so weird to be here, watching football, and wearing flip flops.  I kind of miss the brisk days walking to Gaslight on Racine.
  • Pulling the sweaters out of the bin that I shoved under my bed in disgust when it was still cold in May.
  •  A lull in the tourist season in FL  Best time of the year.

Many say that fall is their favorite season, and I definitely see why.

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