And the clouds rolled in!

This post has been a little while in coming; the last week and a half has not been easy. It has been a roller coaster of emotions for us. Shock, sadness and anger have been warring with each other – it’s exhausting. So, to try and overcome some of those emotions we thought we would take a road trip – our last one here in the US; it’s time for us to go home, but the decision was one that was imposed upon us with Andrew being made redundant. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you are invited to work in another country and then have the rug pulled out from under you and you are sent packing!

Anyway, back to that road trip. It’s fall here in the US and there are many areas where the leaves changing color are quite a spectacle. One of those places is an area known as the Talimena Scenic Drive (a 50 mile stretch of road from east Oklahoma to west Arkansas). So, we set off to have a look before all the color disappeared.

It didn’t turn out quite as expected however. We encountered quite a bit of cloud, fog and rain. We were advised to drive along the valley road first – so glad we did, at least we saw a little color. Driving became very challenging once we got further up the mountains! These are some photos taken from the car:



Talimena_QW_stateParkWe stayed a night at the Queen Wilhemina Lodge (the castle in the clouds), a recently renovated lodge; very popular & I managed to snag the last available room (people had cancelled due to the weather!) – this was the view from our room when we arrived:Talimena_QWL_view

There was a nice fire to sit by, but no reviving drinks to be had – there was no alcohol at the lodge – its situated in a dry county and they are required to wait 12 months before applying for a liquor license – damn!  The weather continued to move in; it got worse and we experienced a severe storm, with lots of rain and a power outage. The next morning it was still very cloudy, but still beautiful, mystical, even!


It eventually cleared enough for us to start our drive back along the mountain ridge. We saw some pretty sights;

Talimena_AutumnColour Talimena_AutumnLeaves_0955

Talimena_AutumnLeaves_0952 Talimena_AutumnColour_0976

it wasn’t quite what I had hoped for, but all in all, it was still another great experience!

It’s Pumpkin Season!

1pumpkinI think I may have only just realised that Americans are just a little bit obsessed with the humble pumpkin.

If you have ever been in American during the autumnal season, you will know that Fall brings cooler temperatures, and colour-changing leaves, but it also brings an overwhelming display of pumpkins and anything and everything associated with pumpkins. I believe the pumpkin must be the unofficial symbol of autumn in the US; pumpkins are literally EVERYWHERE! I can’t liken this to anything similar in the Southern hemisphere, it is something uniquely American.

If you read my last blog about visiting the Dallas Arboretum’s Fall Festival – you might get a bit of an idea of what I am talking about – you will have seen some of the photos I took of all the pumpkins there – and the parents and children clamouring for photos with them. Yes, even I got amongst it and got a photo with some of the thousands of pumpkins on display there.


Decorator pumpkins

Decorator pumpkins


When I have been out shopping, it is impossible not to note that it is the season for pumpkins! Pumpkins adorn all sorts of decorator and household items for you to take home. Both food stores and hobby stores are all too willing to help you decorate for the Fall/Harvest season. Pumpkins themselves are also used as decorator items – you can buy bags of mini pumpkins, as well as the larger varieties (both real and artificial) to decorate with.


Pumpkin_pieBesides decorating with pumpkins, the flavour of pumpkins has infiltrated it’s way into just about every food group as well. The pumpkin pie is, of course, an old favourite, but consumers are now inundated with pumpkin-spice flavoured everything!


Dunkin Donuts pumpkin spice coffee

The fault probably lies with Starbucks who introduced a seasonal pumpkin spice latte in 2003 – since then the number of items with a pumpkin spice flavour seems to have risen exponentially. Others have jumped on the bandwagon and offer pumpkin spice flavoured coffee at the supermarket:


McCafe pumpkin spice coffee

You can now find pumpkin spice flavoured Oreos, pumpkin spice flavoured M&M’s, pumpkin spice air freshener as well as everything from pumpkin-spice flavoured beer to pumpkin-spice flavoured chocolate! I am convinced America has gone a little pumpkin-spice crazy!

Here are a few items I came across whilst shopping recently:


Pumpkin Ale


Pumpkin Muffins


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes


Pumpkin Cider – no, I didn’t try it!


Pumpkin Chocolate!?


Pumpkin Spice Almonds


Pumpkin Spice biscuits

I have to admit, I haven’t actually tried any of these, but – has it all gone too far?

Pumpkins at the Arboretum – Autumn is here!

One thing I really love about America is how the arrival of each season is celebrated wholeheartedly.

Autumn has now arrived in the northern hemisphere, so there are plenty of decorations around celebrating Fall and Harvest; with many scarecrows, hay bales and pumpkins! All the stores and so many porches and balconies around town are displaying their Fall decorations. It is wonderful!


Fall_signToday I went to visit the Dallas Arboretum with a friend to take a look at their Fall Festival, which features a huge pumpkin patch – with more than 75,000 pumpkins, squash and gourds. It was amazing! I had such a wonderful time; I just had to share – Here are a few photos:





I have been to the Arboretum twice before (one of which was for the Springtime bloom event) and it has been great every time. A visit to the gardens is truly delightful and there is something to see at any time of the year. If you are ever in Dallas – go; you won’t regret it. It also has a fabulous Children’s Adventure Garden for the kiddies (and adults).