My late-week travels took me through one of the most breathtaking areas of our region: Along Route 322 from Port Matilda to Philipsburg, then out Route 53 and on through the communities of Morrisdale, Allport and Kylertown.
It felt as if I was crossing over the West Branch of the Susquehanna just as the fall colors were reaching their peak.
Not quite yet, says the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The agencys website reports that central Pennsylvania was between 50 and 60 percent of the way to its color peak on Oct. 9, and you would presume a bit higher by Friday and Saturday.
More northern counties such as Tioga and Potter have just passed their most brilliant stage. Were almost there.
Conditions in recent weeks have been prime for producing those magnificent fall colors.
Penn State forestry professor Marc Abrams says cool autumn nights prompt trees to stop making chlorophyll through the process of photosynthesis, which allows other pigments to push aside the summer green.
Trees are also spurred to change when the nights grow longer with the shifting seasons.
We need to have cool temperatures falling into the 30s or low 40s at night, as well as bright sunny days with little rain, Abrams, who studies the conditions that produce fall colors, said on Penn States website.
The seasonal display even has its own local event. The annual Flaming Foliage Festival runs through today in Renovo, just across the line in Clinton County.
Its three days of music, crafts, food and fun.
I grew up in the Bald Eagle Valley, where we all believed that each autumn, the ridges that followed the path of Bald Eagle Creek from Port Matilda to Howard made for the most beautiful place on earth.
We may have been right.
But I know that folks who live in or travel through other areas of Centre County feel just as strongly that they have the market cornered on fall splendor.
Some favorite foliage spots include:
Route 45 through Spring Mills, Millheim and Aaronsburg;
Route 144 through Snow Shoe and across the Mountaintop;
Route 550 from Bellefonte to Carsons Corner, and on out through Stormstown to Warriors Mark; and looking back toward the Centre Region from the mountaintop above Pine Grove Mills.
DCNR listed these spots as among the best for leaf-watching in the past week: across Seven Mountains from Boalsburg to Lewistown along Route 322; the Greenwood Furnace area just to the south in Huntingdon County; and along Route 45 between Spruce Creek and Pine Grove Mills. Across central PA the black gum, sassafras and red maple are the most brilliant species this week, the state said in its report for the period ending Oct. 16.
Its sad that the Penn State football team has a bye week followed by a road game in mid-October.
One of the great traditional moments each year is a full Beaver Stadium looking out on a colorful Mount Nittany. Maybe the palette will hang on until the Ohio State Buckeyes visit in two weeks.
We Pennsylvanians in general think theres no place like the Keystone State in autumn.
Well, the experts actually agree.
The DCNR says, Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the nation or anywhere in the world.
Were perfectly situated between 40 and 42 degrees latitude, with rolling hills and ridges that are home to 134 species of trees birches, maples, oaks and others.
On Saturday, rakes and leaf-blowers were in use across our new State Collegearea neighborhood.
I hope those folks moving the leaves already on the ground also took a moment to look up and take in the red oaks, maples and sumacs that provided a magnificent backdrop to this sunny, fall day.
Hey, even the scientists say that theres no place like our region in October. I urge you to take a moment this week to enjoy the show.
Chip Minemyer is the executive editor of the Centre Daily Times. Contact him at 231-4640. Follow him on Twitter@MinemyerChip.