Weatherford Democrat

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December 1, 2013

NOW HEAR THIS: Autumn – palate of color to enjoy


This panorama frames the numerous gigantic yellow cottonwoods, brilliant red oaks, amber pecan foliage and massive green live oaks along the river bottom.

The Northeastern U.S. is famous for its gorgeous fall foliage. Stationed in Norfolk, Va., in the early 1970s, my wife and I carefully planned a weekend camping trip to take in the beautiful scenery of the Shenandoah National Park in western Virginia. Based on predictions, we meticulously timed our outing to catch peak color. I rented a small pop-up tent camper from recreation services on base, and on Friday afternoon we headed out for the Appalachian Mountains.

Arriving in the park well before dark, we began our ascent toward Skyline Drive to take in the sights. As we approached the mountains, it began steadily raining. As we gained altitude, we entered the low-hanging clouds. In the aviation world, it would be called, “WOXOF, ceiling zero, sky obscured, visibility zero with fog.” We barely found the campground, set up our camper in the foggy drizzle, and watched our tent drip all night.

To this day, I have no idea what beautiful scenery we missed. We returned home the next day driving in the rain and dragging a soggy tent camper. The only leaves we saw were the ones that stuck to our shoes. They were colorfully tinted by yet another pigment – Appalachian mud.

Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to

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