The slightly inaccurate thermometer on our deck read thirty two degrees Fahrenheit this morning. I checked some weather sites which reported low temperatures near thirty six degrees in the area. Whatever the exact temperature, it appears fall is upon us. The leaves are starting to turn, and my curiosity on the progress of the leaves prompted me to do a Google search on "Virginia fall foliage."
That turned out to be an unfortunate detour to mostly broken links. The first link took me to "Virginia is for Lovers fall foliage 2006." Unfortunately that site wanted me to install the latest version of flash which wasn't at the top of my to do list for today. The next link took me to the "Virginia State Climatology Office Fall Color Information." Since what I really wanted was information on the Jefferson and George Washington National Forests, I clicked on that link. What I got was this.
The file you requested is not available.
The next link I tried was the Shenandoah National Park link. A little wandering there took me to a very "helpful" page with the following information.
Question: When will the fall leaves in Shenandoah National Park be at peak color?
Answer: Usually, the peak season for fall colors is mid-late October. However, it is dependent on the weather. The fall colors start at the higher altitudes, and gradually move down the mountain to the lower elevations.
The page also offered a download of a Word file which was current as of October 6. Just for kicks since this was turning into something of a battle of wills I downloaded the file (not something I like to do) which starts out with the following text.
"Fall is definitely upon us here in the mountains of Virginia, bringing with it shorter days and noticeably cooler temperatures. The colors and textures of autumn are changing daily. Although weâ€™ve come close, we still havenâ€™t had our first official frost this year, once that happens, weâ€™ll see even more rapid changes in the foliage....."
"The bright red Virginia creeper vines are very showy right now as they wind their way up trees, along rocky outcrops, and even over the rock walls that line the Skyline Drive."
Since the picture of the Virginia Creeper which I took earlier this morning was the impetus to start thinking about fall foliage, I would have to rate my Internet fall foliage tour as a bust.
I did try clicking on the Blue Ridge Parkway link and ended up with a little better results. I got a nice slider prediction of fall foliage in NC and a more up to date report.
Fall Foliage Report: Week 4, October 11, 2006
Red and yellow, purple and orange â€“ as the mercury dips, people reach for sweaters and mugs of hot cocoa and the trees begin a full-fledged metamorphosis to brilliant color. With evening temperatures reaching the 30s in some areas, fall color reaches its peak in the higher elevations of the North Carolina Mountains this week. Even trees in lower elevations are blushing with color.
For Virginia I got a phone number that I could call, "1-800-424-LOVE." Just to fair to Virginia, I went back and installed the latest version of flash and visited the Virginia Fall Colors site which had a nice little slider that basically showed the Roanoke Valley well past its peak by this time in October. So much for accurate web information.
All this leads me to believe that most of the reliable information on leaf change in Virginia isn't going to come from our state managed web sites. For those of you looking for fall foliage, I can offer this shot I took of the Roanoke Valley last November 5th. Based on the weather I would guess the peak in Roanoke will be in the next ten to fourteen days.
Technology is a wonderful thing, but sometimes we get overwhelmed in it. In the time that I spent wandering the web looking for information about fall foliage, I could have driven over towards Newcastle and gotten a much better idea of what things look like for this fall. Fortunately the view from my kitchen table is better than most drives, but this would be an outstanding time to go visit the Homeplace over in Catawba, just a few minutes from Roanoke.
Tonight we might see some frost which would be very early for this mountain, and it's pretty hard to believe since the grass in the front yard looks like spring green.
Jumping to another subject which will eventually lead back to fall foliage, if you are into Barbecue and Wine, and not necessarily at the same time, the NY Times had an interesting article about the North Carolina versions of both.
THE Piedmont in North Carolina is holy ground for barbecue connoisseurs: a place where pork shoulders are still pit-cooked over smoldering hardwood, and men with names like Snook and Boney live on through their smoky legacy.
The old-school barbecue joints theyâ€™ve left behind would alone warrant a road trip through this patchwork quilt of old farms, small towns and distant mountain views that sprawl south and west of Winston-Salem. But theyâ€™re not the only reason for food-minded tourists to visit here.
Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the Yadkin Valley, a fledgling wine scene has taken root, one that doesnâ€™t feature just the sweet native muscadine, but also pork-friendly Old World varietals like cabernet franc, sangiovese and even nebbiolo.
Glenda, my wife, and I actually had a very nice meal a couple of years ago at the "The Wolf's Lair Restaurant" which is situated at the Black Wolf Vineyards near Dobson, NC. If that's a little fancy, you're in the neighborhood of the Depot at Cody Creek a very popular area restaurant.
Actually it's a great time to visit that area of North Carolina, if you don't mind some traffic. This weekend is the annual Mount Airy, NC Autumn Leaves Festival. There looks to be plenty of good old time music on the program. If you need a place to stay, check out the Sobotta Manor which is the lovely Bed and Breakfast now being run by our friends the Hesters out of the Sobotta family home place. It's within walking distance of most of the Fall Festival exhibits.
When you come back up Fancy Gap make a note of the foliage and send me an email. I'm more likely to find out about the changing leaves that way than I am from the Virginia websites.