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I’m back, and I will be telling you an interesting story about the vacation my family recently took. My dad likes going on trips, and we wanted to go to the Christmas Store in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Due to Covid it was deemed not safe because of the crowds. I was disappointed at this reality as I really like Christmas and the Christmas Season and was looking forward to going there again (We went last year for the first time.)

My parents talked about what to do instead, and decided upon a trip to look at leaves, which is called leaf-peeping. They had heard that the leaves up in New England look nice during fall. They had wanted to go, but had never been there to view them. It would be safe, since the trip would be mostly riding in the car, and the rest a stay in the hotel. They told me about the idea. I liked it.

A trip was planned that included various stops. The main part of the trip was for leaf-peeping. Several other places were also included. I wanted to stop in Vermont, since I have never been there, and I’m trying to visit all 50 states. We also wanted to go to Malone, New York to visit Almanzo Wilder’s farm. Since we were up in New England, I also wanted to stop at Peaceful Meadows Ice Cream in Massachusetts. I enjoyed getting ice cream there back when we went to Plymouth, Massachusetts in both 1994 and 1995. Besides good ice cream, I liked the balloons they had on their sign advertising one of their products and their cups they put ice cream in reminded me of the sky from Winter Wonder Land in Super Mario Bros. 3(An 8-bit Nintendo game.)

Closer to the trip it began to fall apart. Firstly, we discovered that Vermont had strict travel regulations so it was removed from the trip and then the trip was rerouted. Massachusetts became the next problem since they also had strict regulations for people traveling into Massachusetts from other states and similarly was removed from the trip. My dad, the trip planner, was really frustrated by now. He again had to change the hotel reservations and the routing of the trip. Taking parts out of the trip I also found high stress. I did some research of places to go in Pennsylvania and New York, to fill in the hole left by getting rid of the many legs of our journey. My mom suggested the Grand Canyon in Pennsylvania, since we live in Pennsylvania: so there would be no restrictions. I discovered that there wasn’t much to see at the canyon itself, but that U.S. Highway 6 was a great place for leaf-peeping, the original objective of the trip. Due to my family’s general frustration, I didn’t mention my discovery.

The final problem happened the night before the trip. We found out that the tours of the Wilder farm had closed on September 28th, and we were in October. The only way to tour was to schedule private tours that require two weeks’ notice. There went our whole trip! After thinking about it, we started to throw out possible ideas of where to go for a trip, at the last minute. Remembering the research I had previously done, I suggested going up to U.S. 6 to do leaf-peeping. After all that was the original purpose of the trip. It was in our state, so no restrictions, and everybody liked the idea initially. After agreeing on it, my dad said he would schedule those hotels the next day.

On October 7th, during the trip home from taking the pets to the kennel, my parents decided we would leave that day to go on the trip. After quickly packing, we headed up to Scranton where we would start the trip. The trip was as follows: Take U.S. 6 across the Northern tier of Pennsylvania to go leaf-peeping and visit the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, before heading to Erie to stay overnight. We would then go home the next day. It worked for me!

The northern tier of Pennsylvania was beautiful this time of year. The trees’ leaves had turned shades of red, yellow and orange. Some places the leaves had already fallen. We all thought the Grand Canyon was breath-taking. I found the trip very relaxing. My anxiety was at a record low since mid-February. As for Erie, we stayed at a hotel and convention center. The interesting thing about the hotel was that many of the customers had brought their dogs. There were dogs of all sizes and shapes there. We thought there might be a dog convention in Erie, since there were many dogs and our hotel had a convention center. One of the dog owners was asked about this, and they said there wasn’t a dog convention. This hotel is just dog friendly. So I don’t know if the whole chain is dog friendly or just select locations like the Erie location, but it was interesting.

The day we left to come home, we went down Interstate 79 to leave, since this road leads to the turnpike. I found traveling on 79 exciting, as it’s my second favorite number. As it turns out, the leaves were more vibrant as we went south on 79, and then east on the Turnpike, than they were up on U.S. 6. This surprised me.

This trip was very interesting. It was challenging to prepare for and opened our eyes to current restrictions in some states. It was also very relaxing at times once we actually started on it. Also an important lesson provided by the trip, is to always check in advance about the places you want to go. A person should not just go by what information is given online. Places should be called in advance, especially during uncertain times. We were lucky that we found something enjoyable to do and a hotel that could be booked the day before, when all of our original plans failed.

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