A month ago the plan was to fly to Cincinnati to see friends across the river in Kentucky and then watch the Bears on Sunday afternoon. But the season started and Ron Turner still called the plays for the offense and I have decided to implement a new rule: if my team's offense is controlled by either (a) John Shoop or (b) Ron Turner, I will not travel to see them play. Turner is by no means the worst offensive coordinator the Bears have employed, nor is he responsible for Chicago being a .500 team that will struggle to make the playoffs, but last week's game against the Falcons in Atlanta sums up well Turner's legacy: Mike Mularkey adjusted the Falcons' offense to exploit the weaknesses that an injury-ravaged Bears defense presented and put the Windy City boys on their heels; Turner did not, declining to put the game into Jay Cutler's hands and run a no-huddle offense that might capitalize on the limited skills of Atlanta's cornerbacks. So, no need to go to Ohio this year and, in fact, no need to even find a bar to watch the game.
Instead, we headed out to Shenandoah National Park for a beautiful day spent on Skyline Drive. Our 16-month old was amazed by caterpillars, salamanders, chipmunks, birds, and deer (although, truth be told, she was most excited by a beetle that she got hold of). For the rest of us, our highlight was a four foot black bear that wandered across the street from us on a trail near Big Meadows. On getting close, the bear turned tail and scampered back into the dense woods. It had no fight in it. So it was almost as if we had gone to the Queen City anyway.