It’s here. I smell it . . .

Kentucky and Belle Meade 183My favorite part of fall isn’t the changing leaves, the cooler weather, or that thing called Turkey Day. Don’t get me wrong. Those are all wonderful things to look forward to, but my senses veer towards a little something different.

Just call me Ms. Olfactory because it’s the smells of fall that get me a smiling.

Wet leaves

Rain on a crisp day

A pumpkin pie spice candle

Turkey sizzling on the grill

Damp soil

A casserole in the slow cooker

My husband, Dale, and I experienced nature’s version of fall this morning as we road 13 miles on our mountain bikes through a hidden valley of massive palm trees, California Oaks, and a trickling stream. The dank smell reminded me of hiking in New Zealand during their fall last year where everything was glowing green and wet from weeks of rain.

Kentucky and Belle Meade 151Then there was the 40 some degree temperature that engulfed us. It was as though it rose from the moist soil like a ghost seeking a human to haunt. It tickled our noses, leaving them cold to the touch.

The ride was lovely, unexpected, perfect.

The best way to start our holiday week during which we’ll embrace a host of fall scents and experiences that will leave us craving more.

What makes the fall and this holiday week memorable for you?

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Keep to the right. No, I mean left. Yes, left.

Dale and I chose New Zealand and the Cook Islands as our “babymoon” destination last May. Being five months pregnant at the time, I wanted to have a few reliable things that I had previously been willing to fudge on: flushing toilets; toilet paper; comfortable beds; clean water; safe food. And so we trekked around the world to investigate the many treasures of New Zealand.

DSC03113Waiheke Island is one such special place. It is about 40 minutes from Auckland by ferry. We arrived first thing one cool autumn morning (their seasons are opposite ours) and rented mountain bikes. I thought it was humorous that our handle bars both had a “keep left” sticker with an arrow pointing in that direction. Wondering how many people needed that reminder, we set off on our ride around the island, using the left side of the road, of course.

We climbed hills, rode by pastures, caught terrific views of the ocean,

Waiheke Island, New Zealand by Heather Zuber-Harshman

Waiheke Island, New Zealand by Heather Zuber-Harshman

and got some good laughs. Our first good chuckle was worth stopping to snap a picture of. I wanted to buy some of the convenient roadside manure just to say I had, but then what would I do with it?  Good question.

The next giggle came from the “Oh, I get it” we experienced when we biked past a number of wineries that offered wine and beer tasting. When we checked out the handy map we were given, we counted twelve vineyards spread across the island. At that point, the “keep left” reminder started to make sense since a biking wine tasting adventure is the best way to experience the island.

The final hee, hee of the day came when we watched some people trying to play an almost life size game of chess – imagine the game Harry Potter style, but the board and pieces were 1/4 the size as in the movie, and they didn’t move themselves, which appeared to be rather burdensome for the players. Based on our observations, chess moves are harder to visualize when you are one with the pieces rather than staring down at them.

And so ended our one-day adventure by bicycle on Waiheke Island. We’re looking forward to returning on our next trip to New Zealand. I’m thinking a second babymoon is in store before our second child is born . . .

My transportation for the day

My transportation for the day