Thursday, August 16, 2007

Not Smarter Than Your Average....Well, You Know

Really, what's with all the hype about bears?

(Ok, so there isn't any hype, but bear (hee-hee) with me.)

You know how when you go camping, the Rent-A-Rangers post warning signs about bears every 15 feet? Comforting signs that warn "Keep Food Locked Up!" or "Hang Trash Bag From Tree 45 Feet In The Air So Bear Has To Be Really Thrifty To Get To Your Stuff!"

Usually, I don't give these signs a second thought but on our last camp out at Priest Lake, I became OBSESSED. Freakishly, bizarrely, obsessed.

It all started as we drove into the campground and I noticed the first of many signs to come. No worries, I thought to myself, all in the name of caution. Then, a few hours later when it was my turn to haul trash, I came upon the ginormous steel trash cans in serious lock down equipped with a locking handle device that your average bear (again, hee-hee) couldn't possibly figure out. Okey-dokey, no worries, no big deal.

Michele and her crew were staying in this massive beautiful motor home which made our wee little tent look like a sitting target.

"Come eat us and pull our innards out and use them to floss your teeth" it seemed to say.

Luckily, as I collapsed into bed the first night, I was too tired to be worried about any bears and I drifted off to sleep.

Until I woke up. In the middle of the night. Thinking every sound was a bear inching closer to me and my family and our imminent deaths.

Ok, stay calm I told myself as I tried to work my way back to sleep. Brad is sleeping directly in front of the door so when the bear comes, he'll get to Brad first and of course Brad will know what to do. Right, right, all is well. I managed to get back to sleep primarily because I really am dumb enough to believe that any ravenous bear would at least have the decency to come at us through the front door of the tent, therefore giving me and the kids a change to escape. 'Cause a bear would never be rash enough to poke one tiny claw through any side of the tent and come at us from behind. It would be rude.

Night two rolls around and I am slightly more freaked out than the previous night, but I didn't want to relay my fears to anyone for fear they would, I don't know, laugh at me and call me names for being so stupid. As I laid awake contemplating which would hurt more, my head exploding from the mere sight of a bear or the first initial bite into my all-too-fleshy backside, I tried thinking of all the good bears out there.

Take Smokey The Bear; he's friendly, he goes out of his way to teach us stuff and warn us of danger. Good quality bear, that Smokey.

And Yogi! Sure, he talks funny but overall, a joyful, happy fella with no ax to grind.

And the Chicago Bears...loyal fans, good team. Nothing bad about them.

I managed to occupy myself this way for several hours and breathed a sigh of relief when the sun finally came up. 'Cause a bear would never attack in the daytime, right?

As we sat around the camp stove that final night before bed, I voiced my bear fears looking for reassurance. Mark, BLESS HIM, took pity on me as Brad and Michele tried not to laugh too loudly and offered me his Bear Spray to sleep with that night. Yep, BEAR SPRAY, which is hilarious in it's own right and is basically just a jacked up version of pepper spray. I took the spray and then listened to Michele tell me what to do in case of attack.

"Ok, if it's a black bear, play dead and if it's a brown bear, run away." (I probably just got that completely wrong but I wasn't really listening since I was PETRIFIED.)

Oh, right! That makes me feel better!

"Um, excuse me, Mr. Attacking Bear? Can you put please wipe the slobber from your mouth while I get my flashlight? I can't tell what color you are and I need to know how to respond properly. Thanks so much."

Then we started talking about that horrible story from earlier this summer where a young boy was pulled from his tent by a bear and killed because he had food in his pocket. HORRIFYING.

Mark and Michele both tried to reassure me that that particular bear must have had something mentally wrong with it because bears don't go around killing people just because.

"So sorry, Attacking Bear. Now that I know what color you are, do you mind submitting to a short mental assessment so I can better understand if this will be a routine killing or if you might do something funky and uncharacteristic."

All of these lovely thoughts accompanied me to bed where I laid, wide awake and scared to death ALL NIGHT LONG. At one point, I even woke up Brad for clarification on what I was hearing just outside the tent.

That would be the motor home generator and not the low growl of a bear gone bad.


So I might be out on camping for awhile. I need to wrap my head around this before I'm ready to venture out into the wilderness once again. Thank goodness summer is almost over and my husband is too broken to go play.

Bear with me while I work it out.


Kelly said...

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with this fear. That is why I like to camp in the San Juan Islands... no bears! The only bears I like are of the gummi variety.

Heather said...

I love your commentary with yourself... and that I can hear your voice in my head.

Tharker said...

Reading this I was wondering how you read my mind so completely and perfectly! You are not alone in this fear. At Girl's Camp, I was petrified, especially since it was only a week or so after that horrible attack in Utah. I kept checking on the girls tents making sure they didn't have food in there, ya know for the "squirrels" when actually I did not want to give old Smokey the slightest excuse to mosey on in to camp!

You really should be a writer Karen, you do it SO well!

Marilyn said...

Great post Karen. Your posts make me laugh every time. Just the way you word things is so funny.

Melissa said...

You are not alone! I hated girls camp for that very reason. They always warned us to keep all the food locked up, but you knew that there were girls that had brought stuff from home. And it was in the tents. Tempting those bears. Tantalizing their taste buds. Oh yes. You are not alone in your bear fear.

Michele said...

You forgot to mention that we offered you the RV for the night because you were so scared. That really wouldn't have given you a peaceful sleep however, due to the rodents. You had every right to be scared...there were signs everywhere! Next year we'll get you some bear proof tent armour.

Jeremy said...

Karen next time you go camping just go to REI and get some bear bells to go with your bear spray