I have known thirty four Autumn’s, living in California, subtle transformations in the weather and landscape announced the arrival of Fall. Cental Californians sometimes dressed in short sleeved shirts and scarves or long sleeved shirts and shorts, from September to the middle of December were somewhat mild months. I have always loved Autumn, or “sweater weather” as I call it; the change in color of the tree tops and chilly days with the sun shining in a cloudless sky.
This year, my thirty fifth Autumn has provided a whole new level of visual reasons for me to love this time of year. Being the passenger on a big rig, driving from coast to coast has shown the diversity of landscapes and weather, sometimes quite abruptly. A green hillside in Wyoming can quickly turned to a stark white blanket draped across the horizon and five more miles down the road we are slowing down to drive in a light snow fall, skies dark and angry. I have been able to document these changes through photographs and love being able to share them with the world.
As our eighteen wheels rolled into Iowa, the celebration of Fall seemed to suddenly begin. I spotten trees in various shades of pumpkin and burnt orange scattered about rolling hills of emerald. The shores now vacant from Summer dwellers engaging in their usual recreational activities, summoned me to come and walk along the waters edge and immerse myself in a non-California Autumm.
Four states over to the East, Pennsylvania painted us a gorgeous picture of rivers flanked by firey colored foliage and gray heavy skies. Life is much simpler and taken at a more leisure pace in these parts, the view from the Interstate allowed us the view of farms and large acreage of land with only one home, not large crowded subdivisions like I am accustomed to.
It was New Jersey that truly drew out my love for this season; the green trees were all but suffocated by the groves of amber, scarlet and gold. Cars whizzed past our slower moving vehicle and I took advantage of my seat high above four wheelers to take photos of what I would call “the City of Autumn” near Bordentown. My gray knit infinity scarf made it’s debut, accompanied by a black long sleeved v-neck tee with jeans and my gray Chuck Taylors, I was in heaven! Mornings were cool and crisp with very little cloud coverage while the evenings were almost warm and permitted open windows on the truck.
After our load drop off and pick up on New Jersey, we made our way South through Virginia, the early morning landscape faded by a thick blanket of fog. The dewey floor of the earth, lush and green coushioned the barns and buildings dotting the land to the right of the roadwy. The foggy mornings do make it more difficult for my husband to drive in, especially the curving roads through mountainous country, but they are breathtaking.
We have drive through Tennessee several times in the last ten months, but her sky was quite angry on this trip. As we neared Nashville, a wave of clouds descended apon us with storms brewing close by. We often find the behavior of motorists in concentrated areas to be trying, but adding in inclimate weather can be quite scary (for me at least), my husband is calmly maneuvering through traffic as I do my best to not be a backseat driver.
The clouds in Tennessee had nothing on the cell in Texas. Sitting in a semi truck surrounded by other semi trucks does not provide much of a secure feeling when wind gusts cause the cab of our truck to rock side to side. Thunder and lightening completed the trio of terror for me, the sky growled with such fierceness that I have never heard before, everything is truly bigger in Texas… even the sound of thunder. The light show Mother Nature put on was quite spectacular, I felt there must’ve been a rave going on in the heavens that I had not been invited to. The next morning we found out that a tornado had touched down in the area we had done a load drop off the afternoon before.
We took a route toward the North and drove through Kansas, it was simply beautiful. Fields that had been growing corn only weeks ago were now barren, a slight green grass filling in bare spots of earth. The sun shone down on silos and brightly painted barns as cows grazed in the nearby pastures, I longed to put on a plaid shirt and overalls for just a moment and maybe pet a cow or two.
Our route took us back to the West and a light snowfall around the Lincoln Memorial statue greeted us. Snow is another fascination of mine; it’s stark whiteness, it’s freezing coldness, it’s ability to make everything it falls on look both dismal and beautiful at the same time.
Powdered mountains obstructed the horizon in Utah, white was now the primary color of the landscape and our speed decreased dramatically as the roads were wet and light flurries fell apon us. I held the handle on my door with a white knuckle grip as my handsome husband seemed to sail down the grades and around curves without so much as a furrowed brow. We did have to stop at a rest area so that he could clean the dirty slush from the windows and headlights, he spent nearly thirty minutes meticulously cleaning and checking over his truck.
Idaho was our next state as we made our way toward Washington for our next drop. The hills, fields and roads were emerging more clearly from the snow as the weather was getting warmer. Skies of heavy dark clouds still accompanied us on our travels but the view was now a muted palate of earth tones.
The bright golds and apricots sparkled in the Oregon sunlight as puffy white clouds floated above. The sounds of Oregon seemed so alive, unlike Utah and Idaho which seemed to be dampened by the layers of snow, Oregonians were out bicycling and men in waders were out in pebble bedded rivers fly fishing. I found myself wishing I had an aluminum boat to go gliding down the river in.
We made it to Washington and again, I was lost in the Fall foliage of the far Northwest. Dark green pines stood tall and strong against the changing of the season while grasses and brush had turned a firey tangerine near riverbeds. It was the snowcapped mountains breaking free of the fog banks that were most impressive, reaching nearly to the heavens.
We made our way down the West coast for our load drops in California and I got my taste of Autumn from home; most rolling hills still a muted golden with green trees and palms occasionally accompanied by a cluster of goldenrod and ochre. That is the beauty of America; to travel from one coast to the other and see so many different landscapes as well as people- some states are busy and bustling with traffic while others are simple two lane roads with trucks stops where employees call you “ma’am and sir” and send you off with a smile.
This California girl is very lucky to get to see the country, but truly blessed to experience it all with the one she loves.