fall

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To be honest, I never had New Hampshire on my bucket list of places to travel. I’m not much of a winter sports girl and I honestly didn’t know what more the state had to offer. So when my wanderlust started kicking into high gear in the middle of August, I started researching places to go for the Autumn time. I know New England has some of the best foliage to offer in the country, so that is where I began my research.

The more I looked into it, the more it seemed like New Hampshire was the best place to go. About a 10-hour car ride (one way) can easily be divided into two relaxing days of travel. Plus, I know there would be some fun stops along the way. In general, we were looking to relax on this trip. We wanted to have some great views that were easily accessible from the road but also have fit in a hike or two throughout the day. Nothing too strenuous, but something that was good enough to build an appetite for  after the hike. After getting some great advice from fellow photographer, Patrick Koetzle, I was ready to hit the road.

Our entire trip revolved around spending 3 whole days in the White Mountains National Forest area the first week of October. At that time it seemed like we were right in the middle or towards the end of peak autumn color which was exactly what I was looking for. For the most part, the weather was beautiful. In the mid-50s with no humidity. But in the middle of our trip, it rained really hard and it got really cold and windy bringing the temps down to the 30s.

Lodging

Based on all my research about the White Mountain area, an overwhelming amount of people suggest staying in a town called, Lincoln. I did my best to find a suitable place to stay but even booking our trip 2 months in advance, our options were limited. We ended up finding a cottage in Twin Mountains. We brought our dog, Frankie so it was great to have our own little cottage with a fenced-in backyard. The location was right in between Franconia Notch and Crawford Notch, two of the places where we wanted to spend most of the time so the cottage was perfect for us.

So if you’re looking to stay somewhere centrally located with your own private kitchen and hot tub, I’d highly recommend staying with Sherry and Ron. They were amazingly welcoming and thoughtful hosts.

We did visit Lincoln one day around lunchtime. Since we were visiting during the Covid pandemic, a lot of the restaurants and stores seemed like they were closed. That just reinforced the idea that our decision to stay in Twin Mountains was the best option for us.

Franconia Notch

Driving around this area is so exciting. I remember telling Andrew on more than one occasion that he had to drive just so I could stare out the window. But I think my favorite was the Franconia Notch side. Maybe because it seemed like there was more color on that side but more than anything, I just really enjoyed the views.

Our first official hike was Artist’s Bluff for sunrise. Although it is only 1.5 miles long, the hike was strenuous being that it was just straight up the mountain then down the mountain. There were a few flat areas but not much. If I think about it, a majority of the hikes around the White Mountains area was like this. A great glute workout for sure! But it was absolutely worth the sweat.

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If you know me, I love a good road trip. Especially the ones that make you feel like you’ve hopped on an airplane and you’re miles away from home but in actuality, you just jumped into your car. So if you’re like me, I created a list of my favorite summer destination that are 3 hours or less from Washington DC with a variety of adventures waiting for you. So if you like being in the outdoors, this list is for you:

Great Falls Park:

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Great Falls Park from the Virginia side

I’ve mentioned this place a hundred times on my blog so it’s definitely a favorite. Less than 20 miles outside of Washington DC, find some peace in Great Falls Park. From the roaring falls, to plenty of space to roam or have a picnic, Great Falls is kind of an unexpected gem outside a major US city. The great part about Great Falls is that there’s a Virginia and Maryland side. You can see actually see the Maryland side while in Virginia and vice versa but they are very different.

Virginia has a better view of the falls and in my personal opinion, the park just feels a little bit more open with wider fields and more viewing spots of the falls. It’s a great place to have a picnic or go on a hike with friends.

Maryland allows you to be closer to the rocks but I personally enjoy the views on the hike on the Maryland side much more.

Don’t be surprised if you see kayakers navigating the rough waters or blue herons fishing for the dinner on either side of the park.

Alexandria, Virginia

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Old Town Alexandria at sunrise

Specifically, Old Town Alexandria. Old Town Alexandria is just 8 miles away from Washington where you can enjoy a day by the Potomac River. Surrounded by cute shops and even better restaurants, it’s shouldn’t be a surprise if you find yourself smiling while walking around the neighborhood. If you of age, The BRÜT Wine Bar is a personal favorite if you like bubbly adult drinks. Waterfront Park is a fantastic place for kids to run around and to experience free outdoor art. I can’t express how much I enjoy this cute little town every time I visit.

But Alexandria is also a great central point for many other excursions. Hop on a scenic water taxi that will take you the National Harbor in Maryland or to DC destinations such as the Wharf, Georgetown, the National Mall, and Nats Stadium. It is also along the Mount Vernon trail that gives you access to Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve and Huntly Meadows Park, both wetland areas with boardwalks that make it fun for birdwatchers and photographers to enjoy the views.

Shenandoah National Park

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Shenandoah National Park along Skyline Drive on a foggy early morning

Shenandoah National Park is beautiful summer, fall, spring, winter, whenever! Just 70 miles outside of the District, it’s the best place to get a great hike in. My personal favorite is Old Rag Mountain Trail and Hawksbill Mountain Trail. Both give you an unbelievable view of the mountains and surrounding areas. Just know that both of these hikes are steep but Hawksbill Mountain Trail is significantly shorter, so plan accordingly with the time you have in the mountains.

If hiking isn’t your thing, I highly suggest finding a rental company where they’ll take you down to the river. You can rent canoes, rafts or tubes to float your way down the river. It’s so relaxing.

But if you just want an easy way to enjoy the views, Skyline Drive has stunning views from multiple overlooks along the way.

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For me, Thanksgiving is really about family and friends being together and celebrating all the blessings we have in life. In no particular order here are a few things that I’m grateful for:

  • Family, friends, Andrew and Frankie
  • My health
  • My warm bed
  • The kindness of people I’ve never met before
  • The internet for connecting people all over the world.

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I hope you have a wonderful day however you are celebrating and I’m so grateful for you.
<3 Angela

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This image may be my favorite in the series I captured at Rock Creek Park. I like it because of how monochromatic yellow it is. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I love those monochrome colored looks.

You may also know that I enjoy going out with other photographers to take pictures too. But once in a while, I find so much peace going out on my own. Especially in Rock Creek Park, a place I am not too familiar with, I loved exploring the area and finding little corners like this. However, this was one time I wish I was out with another person. I think this would have been really cool if there was a person standing there with an umbrella or something. Oh well, there’s always next time.

My camera settings for this image are F6.3 at 1/13th sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm.

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While walking around New York City, I made sure to look for any signs of fall foliage. I was so happy to see that there were trees that were already turning yellow and orange that it made me curious to see what the trees looked like in Central Park. So when Andrew and I had some spare time, we ended up taking an afternoon walk around the park.

I don’t know how it happened, but we ended up on a side of the park that neither one of us had been to before. Actually, I do know how it happened, this park is HUGE! There’s so much going on everywhere. There was even an ice skating rink open! But as we were exiting the park, we stumbled onto this bridge. I was happy to see some sort of a moment in silence right underneath where these Candian geese were just wading in the water and cleaning themselves off. In such a busy park and even busier city, it’s unusual to find such quietness. So I had to capture it.

My favorite part of this image are the out of focus yellow leaves in the foreground. It reminds me of falling leaves in the fall. But you see what I’m saying about fall colors in New York City? They were everywhere and I loved every second of it 🙂

My camera settings for this image are F8 at 1/320th sec and ISO 1000 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens.

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I’ve been working on this fun photo project lately. The best part about it is that it’s getting me to parts of Washington DC that I never knew about or never really had the chance to go to before. For example, this image was taken in Dupont, right around the corner from the Philips Collection. The Philips Collection is a place that I’ve been to a couple of times but noticed how close it was to the Embassy of India where this Mahatma Gandhi Memorial is right in front of it. My mind was blown how close I had been to this memorial but had never seen it before.

I’m grateful that I finally know where it is and had the opportunity to photograph it in the fall. I think the green, almost yellow leaves really make a great pop of color in the image but also gives the image a bit more layers and depth.

My camera settings for this image are F5.6 at 1/320th sec and ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm.