It’s that time of year again. The changing leaves, the smoky smell of bonfires, and pumpkin-flavored everything are all part of that wonderful season, autumn. And just because the weather has turned cool and the kids are back in school, don’t think the time for outdoor fun is over. Fall is the perfect time to enjoy some of our favorite outdoor activities.


Autumn hikes can often be more rewarding than hiking in the summer.  The weather is cool enough to make the vigorous exercise pleasant rather than exhausting, and the fall colors can turn any view from simply beautiful to absolutely staggering.  You can’t go wrong with any hike in New England in autumn, the foliage in the northeast is some of the best in the country.  But a standout is Mount Garfield in New Hampshire.  This 10-mile round trip hike promises not only sweeping views from the top, but beautiful foliage all along the trail.  In the northwest, check out Ramona Falls in Oregon.  Enjoy the majesty of the falls as well as the burst of color on the canyon wall.

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On this date in 1950, the first “Peanuts” comic appeared. And around this date a year ago, I made my first road trip to Santa Rosa, California. The two facts are very much intertwined. Santa Rosa, the seat of Sonoma County, about an hour north of San Francisco, is where you can find the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

There are a handful of examples of historical pop culture that make me feel like all is okay on our troubled planet. They offer such a snippet of innocence or optimism that all the worries of the world melt away. I feel this warm glow when I come across old episodes of “The Honeymooners,” for instance. Or an afternoon baseball game narrated by ageless Dodgers baseball announcer Vin Scully. Or when I hear Bob Marley sing, “Every little thing’s gonna be alright.”

Most of all, I get this from “Peanuts.” They’re not always all that funny, those four-panel comic strips. But as Schulz himself once said, “A cartoonist is someone who draws the same thing day after day without repeating himself.” In other words, it’s not easy. Always, though, “Peanuts” comic strips evoke an indescribable feeling of purity, of incorruptible childhood. When you come across a drawing of Snoopy and Charlie Brown holding hands, their necks craned toward the heavens and their smiles wide, as they dance like nobody’s watching, well, how can you not grin?

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Perhaps you’ve been harboring a secret desire to be a girl camper but you just don’t know enough about it to make a commitment? Me and thousands of other women love it so here’s what I know about getting started.


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Nothing-Winslow, AZ 104

I have some close friends who decided to name their first child Sedona. People tend to ask why they named her after a city in Arizona — albeit one of the more breathtaking spots in the country, as evidenced by this photo. Our friends reply that no, actually, the city is named after a woman. Her name was Sedona Miller Schnebly. It’s a beautiful first name (a heckuva lot better than Schnebly).

But this gets me thinking: Do folks in Sedona even know where the name came from? Do the denizens of Charles Town, West Virginia, know that they live in a place named for George Washington’s younger brother? Do Tyringham residents realize they live in the only town in Massachusetts named after a woman (first name: Jane)?

Every time we used to watch Johnny Carson “live from Burbank, California,” was any of us aware that David Burbank was a local dentist? Thomaston, Connecticut? Seth Thomas was a clockmaker. Ebensburg, Pennsylvania? It’s named after a little boy, Eben Lloyd, who died in childhood. Marysville, California? Mary Murphy Covillaud was one of the few survivors of the ill-fated Donner party.

A trip through the origins of place names is a fascinating excursion, and there can be poetry in the genesis of such places. Literally. There are towns in New York, Homer and Virgil, named for the Greek and Roman poets of yore. And Orinda, California, is named for a poet named Katherine Philips. Confused? Well, her nickname was “Matchless Orinda.”

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September is here, school is back in session, and the long hot days are slowly cooling down.  The wild exuberance of summer may be behind us, but that’s no reason for the fun to stop.  Fall is a time of harvest festivals, foliage tours, and football tailgating.  Family trips may have to revolve around the school year, but the weekends are waiting for you to hit the road.


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