MACHIAS – They like us!
With its rural roads ablaze in color, Washington County has been touted as one of the country’s top 10 destinations for fall foliage on the Web site MSNBC.com.
Here’s what travel expert James Sherman wrote in his weekly column there:
“For hard-core foliage enthusiasts looking to escape the crowds that plague much of New England each fall, Washington County, in Maine, is paradise for a leaf-peeper seeking solitude.
“The fall colors range from burnt orange to blazing red to golden yellow on the region’s birch, maple, oak, aspen and ash trees, and are most vibrant from early to mid-October.”
Washington County is in exclusive company with Sherman’s choices of nine other destinations cited for colors this time of year.
Alphabetically, the Down East portion of the state falls in with Aspen, Colo.; the Catskills of New York; the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon; the Eastern Townships of Quebec, a neighbor to New England; the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina; Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri; Litchfield Hills, Conn.; the Los Maples Natural Area of Texas; and all of Pennsylvania.
In Grand Lake Stream, the co-owner of the Pine Tree Store lives and works in the middle of Washington County’s autumn glory. But it was a recent weekend outing to Lubec that truly impressed her.
“It was beautiful, and it just seemed like a bumper year,” Kathy Cressey said. “The mountain ash had huge red berries; it was like the sky was on fire.”
The news that Washington County had received a national mention quickly hit the e-mail circuit among the area’s business leaders. It may be too late to capitalize on this year, but it’s promotional material for 2007 and beyond.
Marged Higginson, retired and living in Eastport, should know. Four years ago she moved to Washington County from Litchfield Hills in western Connecticut – another on the top 10 list for foliage. For 17 years she and her husband ran an inn there.
“As a businesswoman, I can tell you that October alone brought in 30 percent of the annual income,” she said.
“We had seven rooms and were turning away 100 people a day. People came to see the area’s hills, covered bridges, waterfalls and leaves. Then they would go buy antiques and visit wineries.”
On Saturday, Sept. 30, Higginson set out for a quick “soul-restoring” trip to see the area’s colors. One road led to another. She hit home in darkness, 468 miles later.