Saturday, June 25, 2011

First Bear Experience

It was bound to happen. You can't live in a place like Alaska and not have at least one encounter with wildlife. We've spied moose everywhere...gas stations, parking lots, outside our's a frequent occurrence to say the least. But, bears? We know they're around. And we hear and read many warnings to stay on the ready just in case we run across one. Regardless, aside from purchasing bear repellant spray (it's just a jumbo can of mace) and making lots of noise where we go (they say bears stay away from humans), we really never thought it would happen.

Two weeks ago, we stayed the weekend at the Otter Lake Recreational Grounds. Beautiful place on base. The Mister had taken leave to relieve himself in the porta-potty a little ways from our cabin. As I was watching the grill, I hear Dylan yell, "MOM!!! Bear! Bear! Bear!"

I look back towards him and see this humongous lumbering black bear trudging up the main road behind our cabin, about a hundred feet from us. I yell to the kids to at least get on the porch, I leave our barbecue chicken on the grill and join them. And then I remember my husband is in the porta potty, that he should be about done to be heading back towards us, and he is in the bear's path. YIKES!

I call him up: There's a black bear headed your way. Stay there inside.
Mister: Okay.

I walked towards the back of the cabin to where I can sight the cluster of porta-potties. By that time, the bear was shielded from my view by a line of trees. I wondered if he was still headed that way or maybe up the mountain and away from us.  Suddenly, I spot a porta potty door open and the Mister step outside. He is facing the road, looking like he's trying to find something.

--Train of thought: So I think maybe it's not there anymore.
But then a truck rounds the bend behind the hubster heading towards me and stops.
--New train of thought: Yep, the bear is still in the road. Dammit, Lou, get back in there and lock the door!

And thank goodness, he does. I breathe a sigh of relief, "Yay, my husband is thinking straight and is safe." Everyone is safe, the end, right? WRONG!

That dang door creeps back open. YES, it does! I kid you not! It opens! ANNNNND, my husband's head, which can fit right into a mature bear's mouth, slowly peeks out from behind it! ANNNND at that moment, I, myself caught sight of the bear, walking to the porta potty!!! My heart jumps in my chest, but my head is saying, in the most controlled and calm reasoning voice, "No, he can definitely see it now.  Shut the door! He will shut the door!"

Did he shut the door? NOOOOOO!

Mister pops OUT from behind the door, arms out, and runs sideways down towards the boathouse. Now, the bear can react one of two ways: 1) His chasing instinct will be triggered and it's goodbye husband, hello widowhood to yours truly or 2) Buddy Bear will get startled and run the other way.

Oh, thank goodness for number two. The bear was just as surprised as I was at the Mister's impulsive reaction to coming within three feet of his own death and jumped away. The bear headed back up the road.

So yes, everyone is safe.  The end.

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