A virtual ‘orange-a-topia’ awaits us

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs
In a recent conversation with another Airman, we were discussing the color of his car. It was a "burnt" orange color -- the kind that stands out in a parking lot from other cars.

For several minutes we went back and forth on the official name of the color. It went from "metallic orange" to "sunburst orange" to a range of other names before the matter was settled by the Airman's daughter who walked up and told us what it was. "It's orange-a-topia," she said.

That was all that needed to be said after that -- we were laughing too hard to talk about it any more. The girl's words did, however, make me think about many other things we see besides cars in autumn. She was not only right about the car color, but fall in general - it is an "orange-a-topia."

Take for instance a recent trip I took my family on during Columbus Day Oct. 13. We drove north from our home on McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., and went to the Delaware Water Gap. The Delaware Water Gap is on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River traverses a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. A water gap is a geological feature where a river cuts through a mountain ridge.

To get there, we took a route that had us cross a narrow two-lane bridge in Frenchtown, N.J., over to Highway 611 on the Pennsylvania side which we then drove north to Del Water Gap, Pa. The highway is also known as the Delaware River Scenic Byway and is such a beautiful drive.

The pinnacle of our trip brought us to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area on the New Jersey side and various overlooks of the area. It was an overview of an "orange-a-topia" of fall colors that I enjoy seeing every year.

The visit to the Delaware Water Gap was our second straight year going there for our family fall colors tour. In past years we've gone to Vermont to see the Green Mountains change color and also to upstate New York to see fall colors in the Adirondacks. Even further back, we've gone to my hometown area in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to see fall colors in the Porcupine Mountains. As a family, we just love seeing the "orange-a-topia."

The color orange also reminds me of my years of growing up in the U.P. of Michigan and participating in the annual ritual of the hunting seasons. First there is the small game season that starts on Sept. 15 and the seasons culminate with the annual rifle deer season beginning on Nov. 15.

Besides seeing the fall colors while out hunting in the U.P.'s expansive forested areas, there's also the blaze orange clothing worn by the hunters. It's the kind of clothing you can see from a mile away and rightly so for safety reasons.

The wear of orange clothing reminds me of one of my most successful days bird hunting in 1989 when I limited out on ruffed grouse on the opening day of the season. I was decked out in an orange hat and vest and I still hunted those grouse in the early morning hours after daybreak before I headed off to classes at college. It also reminds me of the last time I was able to go deer hunting -- 2004 -- and bagged a buck on a cold November day in the Michigan woods.

I guess when you get down to it, when I think of orange, I think of home. Autumn is my favorite time of year and I know so many other people think the same way.

So to all, as the fall colors creep further south in the Continental United States, I encourage you to get out and see the virtual 'orange-a-topia' that awaits all of us. Maybe it will make you think of home too.