SATURDAY, OCTOBER 9TH: A PERFECT DAY! Hundreds of thousands, some with their faces smeared with green or blue, packed into dim Sports Bar in sardine-like fashion on a beautiful day with summer like temperatures and balmy breezes. I am glad I was not them. They missed our late season treat of nature as they hollered, hooted and rejoiced at the odd annual spectacle of grunting men clad in skin tight leotards of blue and gold run after green and white clad men and both groups rumble over a pointy ball made of a pig's skin. And of course there were those strange celebratory butt slaps unique to this sort of manly combat. That's my take on the big game.
I might even sound un-American (I do like Apple Pie) but I have never attended - not even once. But on the same day as the 'big game' (ho-hum, yawn) I sought out another color war. After a night of sleeping in the sweet smelling pine forest near the Platte River I joined a few hundred others who gathered on the dunes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore near the town of Empire. A battle of colors was raging: Vivid colors of autumn sparkled against a backdrop of the blue of Lake Michigan and her incredible sand dunes: perhaps our greatest land-sculpting gift from the glaciers. But perhaps the sport's addicts might be glad they are not me. "You hiked up sand dunes and watched leaves change colors all day and slept in a tent at night where there are bears and a cougar or two and perhaps a wolf?"
But if you have never been to Sleeping Bear, it's a trek worth taking for Sleeping Bear Dunes is a landscape of sandy beaches beneath rugged towering dunes, dense beech-maple forests and birch-lined streams. Info: www.nps.gov/slbe
And I ended up with a sharp butt slap too, from a cedar branch as I slipped on a sandy incline on Pyramid Point. Go blue. And green. And orange, red and yellow!