Deep Breath 

In our constant rush to get ahead, it seems we can never see where we actually are.

It's become commonplace to see Halloween paraphernalia for sale in July, Thanksgiving in August and Christmas in September. Our schedules are filled so far in advance that we miss the things that are actually happening because we're busy worrying about what's going on a month from now.

It's hard to pinpoint when the shift happened, but it kind of snuck up on society. At one point, we were actually celebrating the holiday in the month it came in, but then, when none of us were looking, some clever retailer decided to try to beat his or her competition to the punch and put out those decorations just one week sooner. Before we knew it, we were being told to hurry up and buy, buy, buy before the must-have holiday wiz-bang was out of stock—in July.

Now, we're so paranoid about not missing out on something, we can't fully appreciate what's going on around us. That's why it's so important to stop, take a breath and actually look around once in a while.

Luckily for us, fall is one of the best times to get some perspective: The crazy days of summer are beginning to fade into air-conditioning-cooled memories, and the equally crazed holiday season can still be pushed off for at least another month.

So go outside (or at least look out the window) and really and truly look. You'll find that autumn has quietly swept in and the tips of trees are beginning to display the dizzying array of colors that can make you stop in your tracks.

While fall's golds, oranges and reds are still outnumbered by summer's greens here in the Treasure Valley, higher elevations are already beginning to show their peak colors, creating a good excuse for a short getaway.

"Now is a great time to go, and it will only get better in the next week or two," said David Olson, spokesman for the Boise National Forest.

The season's most brilliant colors are now at about the 5,000-foot elevation level, but lowering each week as cooler temperatures kick things into technicolor.

Olson recommends a trip north on Highway 55, from Boise to McCall via the North Fork of the Payette River. The underbrush there has turned the landscape into a collage of colors.

While the aspens, cottonwoods and larch are just starting to take on their seasonal shades, Olson said they'll begin to hit their peak over the next few weeks.

He also suggests hitting Highway 21, heading to Idaho City and traveling on toward Lowman. And Stanley to Lowman on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Route is almost always a safe bet for gorgeous scenery, regardless of the season.

If you're looking for a weekend getaway, try heading to the eastern edge of the state to the Teton Scenic Byway. Take Highway 26 through Swan Valley and over Pine Creek Pass to Victor and head north to Driggs, Tetonia and Ashton on the western side of the Teton Range before taking Highway 20 to Island Park. Yellowstone National park is a short jaunt from there, but check to make sure the park is still open before going—most of the park's facilities and roads begin shutting down in mid-October.

If you're looking for something a little closer to home, Olson suggests heading toward Emmett and then on to the Sweet and Ola areas.

Once the colors drop into the valley, try heading west toward Marsing and the Snake River and take a tour of Idaho wineries. Few things are better than fall colors unless it's fall colors and wine tastings.

Before long, Boise itself will be ablaze in color but only for all too short of a time, so make the time to appreciate it while it's here. Schedule it in if you have to.

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