It's been too long since my last entry so I figured it was time to give my 3 loyal (and not a little bored) readers something new to peruse. I often tell my children, "Life is about the stories!" So I try to experience as much as I can in order to have stories to tell them and anyone else who will listen. That philosophy has served me well. With that in my back pocket I have enjoyed jumping out of airplanes, traveling the world, seeing incredible sights, going unbelievable places, experiencing much of what the world has to offer in all it's God-given or man-made glory. However, living life in such a way as to maximize its retell value can backfire. One could quickly find themselves, for the sake of the story, doing something or going somewhere that might just prove, in 20/20 hindsight, to not have been such a great idea. Enter today, stage left.
Our two youngest kids are spending the night at some friends house. Our oldest was at work most of the evening. That left one child and the need for dinner. So we loaded up the car and headed out. We enjoyed the rare occasion of having only one child with us. Conversation was lively, food was palatable, and this being the summer in Alaska, the sun was still up and shining brightly as we headed home around 8pm.
The drive home was not a long one and we had to pass through a large wooded area between Ft. Richardson and Elmandorf AFB. As is our custom, we drove slowly and kept an eye on the wood line to see if we could spot any wild life. We’ve enjoyed this drive in the past as we have spotted all manner of animals such as moose, fox, ptarmigan, etc. Halfway through the woods we rounded a corner and spotted a very large black bear slowly crossing the road. He didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry so we pulled over to watch him in all his lumbering goodness. But as is the norm, he entered the woods as if he belonged there. And we watched in awe as he perfectly blended in to the point of being invisible. Try as we might, we couldn’t see him only a few meters into the thick forest undergrowth. And as we began to pull away from viewing this spectacle of nature, my good friend “lack of judgment” intervened. “After all,” she whispered in my itching ear, “life is about the stories” and this seemed like a good time for a story.
Only a few meters from where sister bear entered the woods was a gated service road. As we pulled up to it my intentions must have become more than obvious because the background noise that I now know was my wife’s wisdom became louder and louder. Still, the story must be had, so my son and I quickly jumped out of the car and cautiously made our way up the service road. It is important in these situations to walk as quietly as possible so as to increase the chances of surprising said bear and thus ensuring that your offspring are eaten. We continued down the path looking into the area we believed the bear to be until, after about 100 meters or so, we thought we heard something and looked toward the sound. That’s when we spied it…approximately 25 meters away from us on the side of the road we had been NOT looking at. I’m going to go ahead and believe it didn’t see us. At least it didn’t appear to care. It lumbered along and we followed at “a safe distance” which, according to Field and Stream Magazine, is defined as about 36 miles. USUALLY.
This story drew to a close when our little Ursus Americanus began to move toward a housing area on post. We flagged down a passing Military Policeman and he took it from there. Usually such animals are shot with big rubber bullets to make them not want to come around people. And it seems to work most of the time.
So, today I have a story. And happily it doesn’t include my son and I becoming a tasty bear treat.