I got a flashback of my birthday in early October, a time to enjoy falling leaves, crisp air, and pumpkin goodies. I paid a second visit to Hawaii. I revisited the island of Kauai, with its breathtaking beaches, green valleys and cool waterfalls. Kauai seems as if it could be a paradise for man’s best friend. I was on assignment for Dog Fancy magazine. But beauty can be deceiving. The island has a large share of abandoned dogs and it was my job to write about the problem.While the business-pleasure trip had its ups and downs (interviewing people who talked about the pet population and its woes was heartbreaking), I recall one morning before going out into the field. I pampered myself with hotel room service, my favorite perk when traveling on the job. I ordered pancakes, fresh juice and Kona coffee. It was the flapjacks with sweet syrup that had me. There’s something about pancakes that is comforting. And the breakfast I enjoyed in paradise, complete with warm air and an awesome beach view almost made me forget the perks of fall in the Golden State.Spicy Pumpkin Pancakes2 cups whole wheat flour3 tablespoons brown sugar1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon cinnamon2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice1 large brown egg1/4 cup half-and-half1 1/4 cups organic, 2 percent, reduced-fat milk1 cup pumpkin filling or pureeMaple syrupIn a bowl, whisk dry ingredients together until combined. Add wet ingredients. Heat lightly buttered skillet over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto pan. Once the pancake bubbles, turn over and cook till golden brown. Repeat. Garnish with syrup and pecans. Make about 15 pancakes. Fast-forward to sweet October 2012, a time when autumn on the South Shore at Lake Tahoe is a sweet gift. This week I celebrated my birthday with the arrival of firewood, moving inside to an indoor pool, flannel sheets and making a batch of fluffy pumpkin pancakes with a hint of warn spices. While being served pancakes in a Hawaiian hotel room is bliss, making homemade pumpkin pancakes in a cozy cabin (amid my two dogs and cat) on a cold morning in the mountains is a match. Serving up a short stack with a pat of European-style butter, drizzled with premium maple syrup, and a cup of freshly ground Dark Chocolate Mint coffee and savoring it all in a warm waterbed while fielding e-mails before a swim/hot tub is as good as it gets. Home sweet home with pumpkin pancakes is heaven in autumn.Motto: Going to the islands for a fall vacation complete with room service is a treat. Staying home in the mountains and serving yourself a hot breakfast is an escape that will make you feel warm and fuzzy.— Cal Orey, M.A., is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Honey and Coffee are offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) “Animal Attraction: A Collection of Tales & Tails” will be released this fall. Her website is www.calorey.com.