Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Of Leaf Peeping and Barn Art

It's the end of October. In Maryland that means brisk days, cool nights, and breezy cascades of gold, terracotta, and scarlet as the trees shed their leaves.

Except this year. Like too much of the country, we are unseasonably warm and very dry. Usually we have some nice colors in the trees even here in the Baltimore area, but this year the trees seem just tired of it all and are dropping leaves of pale yellow-ish tan, brown, and only an occasional peachy orange.

In need of a long weekend away, and celebrating our anniversary, we headed for the hills. Western Maryland and that bumped up part of West Virginia that threatens to crush the panhandle right up to the Mason and Dixon line - that was where we hoped to find some proper leaf peeping.
The C&O Canal

In three days of wandering around Berkeley Springs, WV, and the area between Hancock and Cumberland, MD, we did finally find some good fall color. Even better, we found peaceful vistas, twisty roads that crawl sideways up a hill and then switch back for the downward run, and a few quirky buildings. One of my favorites was this barn that stood right up against the road. Clearly abandoned and weathered to a stately gray, it boasted three paintings hung on its sides. Long ago weathered and with the paint worn off in streaks, the painted wood panels spoke of an artist whose work seemed to foretell the fate of the building and its farm.

Interstates 70 and 68 allow for a quick trip from Baltimore to Western Maryland. But for a better ride, I recommend getting off the highway and taking good old U.S. 40. In many areas it parallels the interstate, but allows for those spur of the moment side trips that make your day.

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