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Fall Around the Country
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A Texas Foliage Alternative
Fall foliage in Texas can be so hard to come by that Deborah Sunderman and her family have pretty much given up. One of the few places they can go is Lost Maples Natural Area in Vanderpool, which offers plenty of hiking and camping.

However, Deborah warns: "It is swamped around the two weeks that are identified as being colorful. So I'm not sure I recommend it. We've seen lines of cars out on the highway waiting to get in."

Instead, Deborah, Scott, and their two daughters, Tess and and Kate will revisit the Texas Renaissance Festival near Houston in early November.

"It was magical for us," Deborah reports of their outing last year. "The weather was perfect, and I was amazed at how relatively quiet it is-out in the woods with no electric motors powering things.

"Tess, age 7, got to participate in the Flaming Idiot's juggling show, and Kate, 10, loved the Green Dragon, a human-powered ride that was set up much like a maypole, with 'cars' that go around and around. Kate did, in fact, turn green."

New Mexico Adventures
Nancy Tipton of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is getting a new view on the Land of Enchantment now that she and her husband have 1-year-old Katherine in tow. Tipton recommends a number of their beloved spots:

- Great hiking can be had in the Cruces Basin Wilderness, northeast of Chama. Aspens, granite cliffs, plenty of water. Bring your filter, cows graze in the area most of the year.
- If you're lucky, you might hear the Cumbres & Toltec Narrow Gauge train's whistle. Consider taking the train for a great day-trip. Call 1-800-982-8679 for info.
- In the Chama Valley, El Vado Lake and Heron Lake State Parks are connected by a 5-mile trail along the Rio Chama. Scenic cliffs rise on either side of the spectacular canyon. Both parks offer campgrounds. For information call El Vado at (505) 588-7247and Heron Lake at (505) 588-7470.
- Finally, a campout in Carson National Forest is always a treat.

A Fall Family Reunion
One of the best traditions I've heard about comes from Susan Carlsson of Monrovia. For the Carlssons, every other fall means family reunion time, when about 15 of the clan, ranging in age from 4 to 70, gather for an outdoors-oriented vacation.

"This year," she reports, "we're hoping to take in the red rocks and snow of southern Utah, where we'll gather at an inn for a week of snow play, hiking, and general giggling."

A few "must-haves" for this bunch include:

- an area with multiple activity options to satisfy the most sedentary scenery watcher as well as the intrepid hikers in our group;
- nearby equipment rentals;
- a good coffee shop within only a few miles; and
- an ample supply of outdoor seating at their lodging.

Areas that have been good bets for their past reunions are Yosemite, smaller ski towns, rural New York, Pismo Beach, and a historic frontier town in Northern Nevada.

Carlsson recalls that four years ago: "We spent a week camped on a remote mountaintop that has been frequented by four generations of our family over the last 80 years. We will be forever connected to that spot: our grandparents are buried there now."

Carlsson concludes: "With lives as hectic as ours have all become, the reunion week is a delightful escape from the present and a powerful way to reconnect to each other, our history and our traditions."


Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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