The last time my husband and I were in Michigan, we visited Friendship Gardens, a destination so hidden away it’s easy to forget that it exists. Yet the entrance is right off of busy Route 12, barely a mile north of Michigan City’s heavily visited outlet mall and casino. Turn off the highway and into a secret preserve of amity and repose. More
This tableau with stuffed bears inside Bass Outdoor World is only one of its surreal features. I visited one of these stores for the first time the other day and found it an assault on my gentle sensibilities. A salesman proudly told me that the store contained $2 million worth of taxidermy. Across the US, there are 51 similar stores, with plans for many more in the offing.
What is Bass Outdoor World? It’s a colossal store selling gear for outdoor pastimes—camping and hiking, hunting and fishing. The stores are often on the fringe of metropolitan areas, along the highways that affluent people use to reach their vacations. The stores have huge parking lots, vast inventories. They are extravagantly materialistic, while seeming to worship the natural world.
The Bass Outdoor shop in Portage Indiana is a cavernous two-story building, with a rough-hewn timbered look under fluorescent lighting. It features a dizzying array of fishing gear, a showroom of expensive boats, and, upstairs, a hunters’ paradise with a sobering display of guns.
As the United States becomes more built up, our focus on the glories of outdoor life becomes more intense, too. There is a vast commercial market for roughing it, a market where you can buy fancy sights and expensive comfortable chairs from which to shoot deer. With enough expenditure, campsite conveniences rivaling the comforts of domestic life can be had.
Have you ever been to Bass Outdoor World?
Now that the trees are getting bare, you can see how weird and spooky some of them are. No wonder Halloween brings to mind woods that are haunted and filled with spirits that are anguished and in pain. I would not want to walk near these trees in the dark.
This massive burr oak that stands on the edge of a bog in Indiana is one of the creepiest trees I’ve ever seen. You can feel its sinister energy.
Do you have a good picture of a frightening tree? I’d love to see it.
Click images to enlarge.
The weather today was simply splendid, and the parks were full of people enjoying the fall color and the sight of all the migrating birds. I was reminded of a day, several years ago, when we happened to be out daytripping and came across a whole crowd of egrets.