New England’s Foliage Is Beautiful From A Bus Window, Say Kansans
CABOT, Vt. (AP) _ Vera Faulconer couldn’t hold in her excitement as she shouted into the bus intercom and flailed her arms.
″Lookee there, lookee there,″ she cried. ″Over to your right, you’ll see colors you’ll never believe.″
Behind her, 42 necks angled for the view: black-and-white Holstein cows in front of a Vermont hill ablaze with reds, yellows, oranges and greens.
It was a little after 8 a.m., but the coachful of retired Kansas teachers and friends wasn’t going to miss anything.
″It’s breathtaking,″ murmured Jean Jones, a retired music teacher from Topeka. ″Just gorgeous.″
They had traveled halfway across the country to see the northern New England colors, 43 of the estimated 3 million tourists expected this foliage season. Vermont alone will attract 1 million leaf-peepers, the state Chamber of Commerce estimates, including roughly 150,000 by bus.
″It’s a big, big industry,″ said the chamber’s Christine Salembier. ″And it’s a very tight market. Fall foliage bus tours are booked (in motels and lodges) a year, maybe longer, in advance. It used to be kind of a low-budget way to travel, but now it can be very glamorous accommodations.″
The Kansas group is in the midst of a 19-day tour, organized by the Topeka Area Retired Teachers Association at what they say is a cut-rate: $1,095 per person. The two tour guides - one is Faulconer - are not paid. They receive a free trip.
″Everybody in Kansas wants to come for the fall foliage in New England,″ said Emma Davis, the other guide. ″We’ve just been ‘ooohing’ and ‘aaahing’ ever since we got here.″
First stop Monday was at the Maple Grove Maple Museum in St. Johnsbury. The 43 filed out and went into the gift shop. Some bought trinkets and maple candy, but more than 30 headed for the restrooms.
″That’s the favorite attraction at all these stops,″ said Faulconer.
Soon they were back on the bus. Next stop, Mount Washington’s Cog Train Ride, over the border in New Hampshire.
Some said they wished they could have stayed longer and others acknowledged that leaf-peeping by bus has its drawbacks.
″I wish I could get in more with, you know, the natives,″ said Wilma Scott, a former principal in Topeka. ″You know what I mean. I’d love to be on the back roads where the farms are.″
Jean Jones was focusing on a farm high on a hill, its backside flush with the colorful woods.
″My first time here, it was a few years ago, I was just looking out at the colors with tears in my eyes. It was so beautiful,″ she said. ″I wanted to come back a second time to make sure I didn’t dream it. I didn’t dream a thing.″