...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.

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fall foliage in new york and vermont!

Seven years ago, Aaron and I packed up and drove straight to Canada and the eastern states - a 7,000 mile pilgrimage just to catch a glimpse of mother nature in her finest hours. It has since then become my favorite time of year. A few weeks ago, we were blessed to have that feeling overcome us again, and pack up and head north to embrace our beloved season of fall.... but this time, we were accompanied by new travelers, and the adventure was even more off the beaten path by traveling with two curious little ones. We spared them the long drive, and flew into Buffalo, NY. After picking up our rental car, we headed straight towards our first destination stop - Niagara Falls...

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

I remember just spending an hour here last time, too cold to even move and eying the hot cocoa stand for 55 minutes of it. But traveling as parents, we have the privilege to experience life again with our children - and that alone is reason enough to slow down and take in the experience collectively. It's also an opportunity for us to show our kids the world as it is. It's one thing to talk about it, but its another to see it too. How could I ever explain what 3,160 tons of water falling every second looks like? Sounds like? and feels like?...

And for that very reason, signing up for a packaged tour turned out to be a great idea - On the Maid of the Mist boat tour, Noah was the only one without a poncho (by choice) - and huddled in the front row of the top deck, we crooned as the warm mist swallowed us... and seconds later, let us breathe again so that we could look back at the roaring falls.

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Niagara Fallas

Rainy, cold, and soaking wet, pneumonia did cross my mind. But the kids forged on - wanting to see and experience more... and so the ultimate spell (and request for a warm bath after wards) came when we walked right under the falls... less than 20 ft away from us. Waddling back to our hotel, the kids thought we were going back home that night... and that our trip was over. Little did they know that a road trip in the car for 7 hours followed the next day...

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Along with the view and jamming to the radio, their backpacks were their portal to entertaining themselves. Each contained their field journal, pencil case, a sheet of stickers, flash light, and new I Can Read story books about travel... and thanks to Grandma, a special "I love you" bag filled with chocolates and candy made the car ride even more sweeter.

One of the things Aaron and I wavered on was whether or not we should pack our portable DVD players for these long stretches. But after pulling in more than 2,000 miles in the car together, I am so glad we left them at home. It was a tough (but good) change for the kids to feel still and completely reliant on themselves and each other to make, well... the best of it. And when Noah expended all his energy (books and candy wrappers on the floor), he would ask me to wake him up when we arrived at our next hotel... {smile}.

Our second night brought us to Lake Placid, NY - in the heart of the Adirondacks. I have always been curious about these wooded lands, and can clearly see how different the pace of life is here... nestled between the proud mountains and European-esqe villages, the laid back atmosphere is throttled by those who come here to train for the Olympics. Our hotel sat above the main village, and was a refreshing start to our official fall foliage leaf peeping adventure...

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

After mis-reading the Adirondack Scenic Railroad train schedule, we realized our plans slated for day 2 were wiped clean. But that's the beauty of vacationing isn't it? And my goodness... just look at where we are... the decision was too easy... so we went apple picking! The kids really enjoyed themselves here at Applejack's Orchard in Peru, NY, where the slow pace is appreciated, and Ava and Noah operated on their own internal clocks. They bobbed in and out of rows of various apple trees, picking and "mmm-mmming" the whole way...

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

The hours spent here were unbelievably relaxed and enjoyable - for the simple fact of being on a farm... a vast land that is quiet, spacious, and evergreen. To run, throw rocks, or just pick wild flowers for Mama...

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Each night, we'd pull out the children's field journals and pen their thoughts and then let them draw their own interpretation below. The leaves we collected from the day were pressed into the pages {although Noah somehow got a hold of these one night and enjoyed crumbling them up}.

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

The next day, as we headed towards VT, we stopped for a quick hike at High Falls Gorge to see how the kids would do on their very first hike (also unplanned). Sure, perhaps Niagara spoiled it a bit for us, but even still, the triumph here was that they hiked the entire path (1 mile round trip) all by themselves...

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

There were interesting details to take in as we walked the trail back. Like this miniature village of mushrooms - so complacently growing atop of a tree stump. The kids soon discovered that it's curvy shapes were just as fun as squishing them with a stick... a lot of mushrooms went down that morning unfortunately...

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Heading towards VT, we took the fastest route our map app on our iPhone cited for us. And speaking of slow paced, I didn't bother to look at the complete set of directions, or notice that there is an enormous body of water between NY and VT... so when I read, "drive 3 miles then arrive at Port Kent" I looked up to see Lake Champlain - in all its beauty - defeat us. But as luck would have it for these adventurers, a ferry ride was leaving in 10 minutes! And just like that, we drove onto the ferry - Noah, just then waking up from his nap woke up to a different kind of motion.... water!

Fall Foliage 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

The hour ride was beautiful - where we ate lunch while peering out of the port holes, to sun bathing above and watching sail boats roll by...

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Closer to Stowe, we stumbled upon an ice cream sign - so immediately that caught the children's attention. So we made a quick detour and visited the Ben & Jerry Factory! The 20 minute tour took the group up and down the halls where we could see workers test flavors, hear tanks churning and filling up pints by the thousands, as well as watch a historical documentary about Ben and Jerry themselves. I absolutely love watching how things are so systematically in play - and an ice cream factory is divine {and cold}. The kids got a first hand look at how their beloved dessert is made - and realize that there is more to it than opening up the freezer door at the grocery store. Many people are involved, many processes take place... and much gratitude is given to the VT cows!

Ben & Jerry's

By nightfall, we finally arrived at our next hotel - the most anticipated of all - Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT. And of course, the first thing the kids wanted to do was... sprawl...

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Aaron found out about the Green Mountain flyer that still runs for those train aficionados {aka Noah}. So the next morning, we walked to the Trapp Family Lodge bakery, and snapped some photos, before heading back into the car for a 2 hour drive south to Bellow Falls... where one of Noah's dreams came true! He has probably seen the movie Polar Express more than I care to admit, and so it was quite nostalgic when the conductor asked for, "tickets... tickets please!"

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

The following morning, a second dream came true - Ava's... where for the last 2 years, she has been savoring her favorite songs, and twirling atop imaginary hills like those in Salzburg. I devoted to take her there one day {and I still plan to}, but when I learned that the actual Von Trapp family was actually here in Stowe, VT, I knew that this would be the cupola of the entire trip... and it was!

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Our morning tour conducted by Maria and Captain Von Trapp's great granddaughter, Carla, tickled Ava in every way. Among 42 other patrons, she sat quietly and listened patiently to her explain the true story about her great grand mother, Ava's beloved "hero" of a grown up who lived her days always with a child-like spirit.

_MG_5871

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Carla spent a generous amount of time with Ava, and autographed her book, V is for Von Trapp: A Musical Family Alphabet that we picked up from their gift shop. Ava shared with Carla {and the entire group} how Grandma gave her the movie, and she's been watching it ever since {oh 2 years!}

Another first for Ava was learning about a cemetery. Aaron and I were unprepared for this part of the tour - but everything happened so quickly, and so naturally - like the words coming out of my mouth trying to explain its purpose - as very matter of fact. Talking about death alone makes Ava very sad. "I don't want to die," she said... "I don't want to be buried in the dirt..." and holding her hand, trying to keep up with the rest of the tour, I shared that I don't want that either... but that's how it is, and why we have to be sure every day is so very special.

A teachable moment in every essence - this was truly a blessed way God has given us to help teach the kids about what happens to us after we die. Because right in this very moment, as Ava was absorbing the information I just gave her, golden leaves from the tree behind their tombstone fell above Ava like snow... and Ava said, "Mom, Maria is doing that for me!"

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

OH! It makes me cry just thinking about it - seeing her arms out to her side, and smiling so wide by her revelation, it just makes total sense doesn't it? How natural the life process is, and how we turn to nature to help us find our lost ones again.

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Before we left, we let the kids run... and enjoy themselves on the beautiful hills of Stowe... the Trapp Family Lodge is such a magical place indeed... Maria was so right in believing that the hills come alive with the sound of music - and Ava's love for the Sound of Music, her childhood love for all things wonderful, reminded us of that - and we twirled and embraced that feeling here for as long as we could.

Trapp Family Lodge

Next stop - maple sugar! We took a quick tour of how maple syrup is made, and appreciate the kindness of the owners to let us taste a fresh batch of some...

fresh maple syrup

We left Vermont after wards, and spotted a Comfort Suites to settle in for the night. We woke up the next morning and discovered that we were in a "beach" town called Lake George - and that here alone, there was so much to do... the day was clear and sunny, so we headed out first to its backyard, where a giant playscape awaited for the kids, then drove up Mount Prospect, {and spotted a baby black bear cross the road!} and took in an amazing aerial view of New York from its summit... that blew us away!

Playtime

Mt. Prospect

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

We drove into town to see what this little beach town really was about - and oh my...

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Fall Foliage Trip 2010

Grooving

It was so hard saying good-bye... to New York, Vermont, the fall foliage, and our family vacation. On our last day, we made it back to Buffalo to catch our early flight back home and decided to return to the place where the adventure started - Niagara. This time, sunshine replaced the rain, and we ate lunch and ice cream in the state park. We walked to Horseshoe Falls, and took this photo - where we said thanks, and enjoyed extra hugs with a backdrop of a rainbow....

Niagara

View the entire family album on Flickr...

18 comments:

  1. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing. It had never occurred to me how much children would appreciate such a change in scenery until viewing your photos. I remembered how in awe I was of it all as an adult when I first witnessed the changing of the seasons. I can't wait until our girls are a tiny bit older so we can take them to enjoy it as well. Wonderful stories and photos too!

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  2. I have been waiting for this blog post since the moment we arrived back in Dallas. I think it is next to impossible to summarize an entire week's worth of memories in one post - but you did it!

    The photographs are absolutely amazing. I have read the post 3 times and I can't wait to watch the slide show you uploaded also! (as soon as I can get out of this meeting)

    Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together and share!

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  3. Thank you Mrs. Bianca! So great to hear from you! Finally I had a chance to test my theory - that if we took away the computer, TV, iPhone - they will have no choice, but to be - and be they did. There's so much to do, and it all starts with us to give them the opportunity - to stretch, sprawl, run, and love nature's bounty for what it is - rain or shine. It was hard explaining to the kids what the fall season is like, when we're still in summer shorts ;) But up North, they saw for themselves, how there's so much more out there... Plus - I had so much anxiety about traveling with the kids - they proved me wrong. This was (for us) the perfect age to instill the love for travel... I can't wait for your girls to experience the same :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  4. Beautiful pictures especially of Ava as.little Maria singing the sound of music does she still remember all the words to the songs? It makes me so happy to see the four of you smile together mashallah

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  5. Salaam Zarlaht Jaan,
    I'm so glad that you made the fall trip with the kids. It's an amazing place and I'm so glad I saw Ava meet the great granddaughter of Maria!
    Because of her love for the Sound of Music movie. It looks like it was a great experience for her to see the legacy in real life. The pictures are beautiful and looks like everyone had a wonderful time.
    Love you guys
    Love,
    Najia

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  6. Thanks Mom for this comment! And of course for all your help in getting us there and helping me pack until 3 in the morning! The kids loved their bags, and Ava hugged her candy bag and said, "I love Grandma!" We really appreciate your thoughtfulness. It's such a wonderful feeling - as a mother to be able to bring to light what your child loves most - which you have always done for us too. I'm so lucky to get to experience that for myself with Ava and Noah. I love you Mom!

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  7. Wow everything looked so beautiful. What can I say, I love the East Coast, but the cold...not so much. Anywho- You all seemed to have so much fun. It is so sweet how you write about each child special moment- Ava and the book signing and Noah and the train ride. Lovely.

    I am glad to read a post from you. It had been a long time.

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  8. What a beautiful post! I knew you and Aaron would plan an ethereal trip for Ava and Noah, and you did just that! I love how a change of plans took you all to an apple orchard, seeing Ava and Noah's triumph after completing their first hike and of course, Ava with the hills at her fingertips! Thank you for sharing your fall moments with us, it was a trip I'm sure that will live forever in your hearts!

    Much love,
    -Corbin

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  9. Thanks so much Lisa - so wonderful to hear from you too! I always need a refreshing start to write again, and this trip - oh, there was so much to say! Thanks for noting Ava and Noah's special moments. To be honest - I think that's what channeled the entire idea of having this trip. It seemed like the north east was a perfect way to embrace both. I'm with you on the cold aspect - not so much either. But oh how Aaron and I dream about living up north - but we realized no matter where we are - there's always gratitude and appreciation for "here" and "there"- we just have to make time for them both as much as we can while our "nest" is still full :) XO

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  10. Thanks so much Corbin! Would you believe it if I told you I took more than 700 pictures? I have the pics streaming as a screen savor, and each down I sit here, I get goose bumps thinking about the "moments" shared - conversations... and eyes widening at the sight of the hills or water falls, or old trains! My hope that this is a start for Ava and Noah to love travel - embrace the great outdoors, and marvel at the landscape, and the peacefulness of scenery beyond "home." And the best part? Is when we traveled back home, and they both said, "I really had fun Mommy...." ;) Can't wait to see you both at the house! Much love, Zarlacht

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  11. Carla C v T hunterThursday, October 28, 2010

    Many thanks to your family for coming to visit us in Stowe this fall and for sharing the story of your journey throughout New England in such a meaningful way.

    Ava and Noah are really awesome children - so well behaved and considerate, yet still curious and comfortable exploring their surroundings.

    Thank you for giving them as much love and enrichment as you do. They are a wonderful little people and will surely bring great things to our world. Your parenting is inspiring!

    You'll have to come back and check out Stowe in the wintertime - it's magical. 'W' could be for winter Miss Ava ;-)

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  12. Oh my goodness - thank you so much Carla for posting here... and the lovely comments about our family. I read it to Ava and she blushed and smiled wide. She remembers you vividly - and her time in Stowe. Thank you for making it such a special memory for us all.

    We would love to visit again - "snow" is in fact Ava's most favorite... and Noah... he longs to run on your fields once more :)

    Our love to you and your family,
    Zarlacht, Aaron, Ava & Noah

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  13. Love the description of your family trip, Zar! Nina and I have talked for the past year-plus about taking a trip to Niagra Falls, and your post helped me experience it - and experience it through a childs' eyes - even better!

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  14. Harley! Grab Nina and go! (Unless you guys hate the cold, then I'd say wait until the spring... where you can picnic, get wet, and have ice cream after wards... or of course, the fall... when you can do the same :)

    "Experiencing it through a child's eyes" - my, that's a huge compliment for me - as a mother... and a writer. I'm sooo blushing right now... and am honored. Thank you!
    xo

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  15. I was coming back to revisit the beautiful pictures of your trip to Vermont and realize you all haven't slowed down a bit since returning. Be it Halloween parties, math lessons or princess puppets- you are truly crafting a living breathing masterpiece, of family that is, and you chronicle it so well with each new post. Knowing how excited you all were about this trip, I couldn't wait to hear how everything went, what the kiddos got to do and how beautiful the colors of the changing leaves were. The best part is that you all actually stayed at the Von Trapp Lodge and have the syrup to prove it! I know that is a moment Ava will cherish forever and the Green Mountain Flyer will rank up there for Noah as well. I am so glad you all had an amazing trip and had the opportunity to experience so much (thanks to great planning by your and Aaron). Thank you for sharing it with us! Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens... you know the rest!
    - KB

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  16. Brown paper packages tied up with strings.... the lyrics... absolutely marvelous aren't they? 2 nights ago, I was working late on the computer, and heard Ava talking in her sleep. She said (and I'm not kidding here) "I want to hear the Sound of Music again." And that's it. I hope this is one phase that never grows out of her. (The Disney princess stuff on the other hand - is not phasing out fast enough :)

    I really appreciate you coming back and revisiting the photos. I do myself too - probably once a day. Ava says we should move to an apple tree farm. I like that idea very much too.

    XXOO

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  17. Carla von Trapp HunterThursday, October 25, 2012

    It's been busy here at the Lodge for foliage season and your family has come to mind several times amidst giving history tours and such. Just wanted to drop a line and say hello. I hope that you are all well and continuing to enjoy exploring together.

    Best,
    Carla

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    Replies
    1. Carla, it brought such a huge smile on Ava's face when I told her you wrote us (back in October - sorry for the late reply!) As you can see, it's also been a busy season for us too, and I've slacked on keeping up with The Art of Family. Our trip to the Lodge was unforgettable, and I hope not too long passes before we can visit again and see you! We think of you often, and have a picture of you and Ava together on our shelves that we see everyday. Our love to you and yours, Zar, Aaron, Ava and Noah

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Thanks for sharing - I will respond to your comment here as well so check back! xo

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