Sunday, October 25, 2015

(Pat and Daphnelynn Major, Rick and Janie Hagin, Jeff and Norine Woodcock, and Al and Jan Menconi have been friends since they they were young teachers at Christian High School in the early 1970's.  We always dreamed of taking a trip together.  This is our story.)

2015 Fall Foliage Trip by Daphnelynn Major 

The idea for a Fall Foliage Road Trip began from the bucket list of one and quickly grew to include four retired couples. All of us had traveled to many parts of the world but had never witnessed the beauty of New England leaves changing color in autumn. It had been 40 years earlier and younger when we met and taught together at Christian High in San Diego. Since then God had led our paths to many different cities and jobs spread over and even out of California. None of us had traveled together previously but all felt quite sure that we were ready to commit to this adventure as reunited friends.

So, the planning began. Many months before our early October “window of opportunity” to see leaves of color, we met to pray and plan our route. We then each researched, secured and paid for private homes to rent, talked it to death and tweaked plans up to the last minute. We booked a “mini-bus” that would be comfortable to hold at least 8 adults and a minimal amount of luggage. We held out hope that we could convince another couple to join us. Though there was the uncertainty of planning that many months in the future, we chose to trust God for the timing of our health, our grown kids’ needs and that of our many grandchildren and elderly parents.

Then, before we knew it, October was here! We met in Boston ready to enjoy the history, the food, the landscape and colors that were seen by our forefathers. As we waited for each flight to land, some toured the Freedom Trail, Paul Revere’s Old North Church and of course, Fenway Park, resulting in another check-off on that same bucket list. Once the mini-bus was secured and we were all together, we caught up over dinner in Little Italy and saw the city by night.

After a great nights’ sleep in our first AirBnB just outside of Boston, we ferried from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard. It was a beautiful and sunny day to tour each of the six unique cities of the Island, before driving to Plymouth to see the “1620 Rock” and some sights of the historical city. Seeing the “quintessential” charm of New England we chose our first “word of the day.”

The next morning we drove up to Salem, then Kennebunkport with lunch at “The Clam Shack” and through the picturesque small towns and rapidly changing leaves as we traveled north to “Bah Hahbah”, Maine, for the night. Who will ever forget Robins’ Trailer Park Motel?? In the morning, although we didn’t quite arrive in time for sunrise, Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park gave us a breathtaking panorama of the east coast. Traveling back south we saw lighthouses and charming seaside resorts, but none that compared to our stop in Camden, on which the girls had insisted.

It was suggested that we would be eating our way through New England and we had no trouble sampling the best of the area with Boston Cream Pie(donuts), Lobster, NE Clam Chowder, Fresh Market Fish, Ben and Jerry’s, and the sought after Maine Blueberry Pie. We quickly took sides when it came to Starbuck’s vs. Dunkin’ Donuts and the type of fish we would eat!

Our route then took us west, going through New Hampshire on highways lined with vibrant colors and streams before arriving in our North Conway home for the next 2 nights. Morning was cold, very wet and socked in as we drove through the White Mountains to ride the ride the famous Cog Railway to the summit of Mount Washington, site of “the worst weather in the world.” Brrr…17 degrees with wind chill! Crossing the Appalachian Trail as we drove toward Montpellier, Vermont, the foliage grew brilliant with harvest hues and the covered bridges were more frequent. We appropriately listened to “Christmas in Vermont” type music and sang “How Great Thou Art” and other hymns and choruses in praise.

Leaving our comfy North Conway, New Hampshire AirBnB, we set out on a mission to find the Vermont Country Store, near Woodstock, before heading south again to Massachusetts. It was beautiful driving the scenic Mohawk trail entering the Berkshires and seeing Williams College, before arriving in South Lee, in the Stockbridge area, for our next house.

 A wonderful relaxing home awaited us on this last leg of our journey. The beautiful, spacious and lovingly converted 1893 school house reminded us of simpler times with handmade quilts in each room. The feeling continued as we walked the Stockbridge annual harvest faire and picked many apples from the Norman Rockwell Museum grounds. The result was a delicious hot apple crisp enjoyed around the table on our last night together. The next day we would each again go our separate ways, some driving through quaint Sturbridge on the way to the airport, others staying on the East Coast longer to visit with friends and family.

Months before, as we had met to plan, our prayer was to have a great road trip and to stay friends even through the unknown of traveling together. Those prayers were more than answered! Our disagreements were few but when emotions began to surface, we were wisely reminded that “we were moving on.” For the most part we deferred to each other. We patiently waited while we took turns being late and searched together for various misplaced items! In fun, we randomly gave our drivers points for good choices – or negative points for questionable moves! Good job to both drivers and navigators! We shared our food, our personal space, the bathrooms and even co-mingled our loads of wash.

Hours spent in our mini-Bus were filled with prayer, songs, stories, laughter, much snacking and good-natured ribbing. We had time to share our stories of life journeys, our families, job struggles, pain and health concerns. We praised God together for his miracles; when news came from our kids of a life spared after a horrific car crash and the announcement of twin boys!

So after visiting 4 states and driving nearly 1500 miles we can say it was even much more than we hoped. It has been said that “an experience shared is an experience doubled.” In every way, ours was an experience quadrupled! Our hearts were filled with not only the beauty of our Creator, but with gratitude for friendships that have remained through the years. “How Great Thou Art!”

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