Kids and Bears

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I was walking towards the restrooms when I saw what looked like a medium-size bus pull in. I figured some folks had converted it into their traveling vehicle, but was a little miffed when they drove past my wave.

After I finished my…business…in the restroom, I hopped in the golf cart and drove over to see what the folks were up to.

A man and two little boys (twins, I think) were outside the bus when I pulled up. I said good morning and asked the man if they planned to camp. He said no, they’d hoped to camp in the area the night before, but hadn’t made it far enough. He said he just wanted to get some water and check the motor, that they’d probably be gone in about an hour. I told him they should make themselves at home, but before I left, I asked him if his RV was a converted city bus. He said it had been the shuttle bus at a VA complex (he called it a “putt-putt bus”). He’d bought it at auction for $5,000, and it only had 4,500 miles on it.

The boys (who were probably about six years old) were running around and came up and told me hi. The dad told me one was named for the mountains, (Cody, as in Cody, Wyoming) and the other was named for the ocean (Kai).

This is the little buildings with restrooms I was cleaning when the boys asked me if I wanted to see the bear tracks. The tracks were in the snow visible on the left of this photo
The tracks were right there, in the snow.

I went about my chores dusting and sweeping restrooms, starting in the front and working my way back. As I was just starting on the restrooms right across from where the bus/RV was parked, Cody and Kai ran up to me.

We found bear tracks, one of them told me.

That’s cool, I said. Did you see any bear poop? I thought a mention of poop would get me at least a giggle, but these kids were serious. No, they had not seen any bear poop. They had not seen the bear either, just the tracks.

Then they asked if I wanted to see the bear tracks.

Yes! I said. (I was on my best work behavior, and I did not use any expletives to express my excitement.)

I thought we were going to make some big trek back into the trees, but they took me right around the corner, next to the little building housing the restrooms.

The tracks were right there, in the snow.

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The snow had melted by the time I got this photo, so the print on the left isn’t as perfect as when I first saw it.

There were two prints. They looked just like the prints one sees on those charts of wild animal tracks. They were so perfect; at first I thought maybe those kids were fucking with me. Did they have some sort of bear print outline toy in the bus/RV? Had they made the bear prints in the snow? But I didn’t get the feeling they were trying to mess with me.

The prints went that way, one of the boys told me, as he pointed off to the left.

Where do you think the bear was going? I asked.

One boy shook his head, as if he had no idea, but his brother piped in with He was looking for people to eat!

I didn’t like the sound of that, as I was the only people in that campground the night before. If that bear had been looking for people to eat, that bear had been looking for me.

Do you think bears just go around killing people? I asked, and they both solemnly said yes. I told them bears would only hurt people if they felt threatened, and one of the boys asked what “threatened” meant.

As I was explaining what might happen if one scared a bear, one of the boys asked, What about a wolverine? Then one of them pointed out a chipmunk, and they both took off after it.

Here's my footprint next to the bear print, for comparison.

Here’s my footprint next to the bear print, for comparison.

I swept two restrooms, all the while wishing I had my camera to take a photo of the bear tracks. I wasn’t sure how long it would take for the snow to melt, so I jumped in the golf cart, zoomed to the van, grabbed my camera, zoomed back to the tracks, and got a few photos.

When the dad walked over to the restroom area to get water from the nearby spigot, I told him his boys had shown me the bear tracks. He said he thought it was just a small bear, and I said I wanted to see one from a distance, not too close. He told me a bear had once jumped on him.

I looked at him like he was crazy, and said, What did you do?

He said, I froze!

He told me that when he was 11 or 12, he tried to hand feed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a bear. He said he’d grown up in the mountains and had never been taught to fear wild animals. So he tried to feed a sandwich to a bear and the bear jumped him.

Was the whole family fucking with me?

The Bear Tracker website says,

Black bears are the smallest American bears, and the most common. They are the only bears found in the wild in California. Although the grizzly bear is the state mammal, it has been extinct in California since 1922.

IMG_2890     IMG_2891

All photos taken by me.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

3 Responses »

  1. OK. A couple of things. 1) I think you are probably supposed to carry an orange bandana around w/ you b/c I’ve heard that waving it at a bear will make the bear leave you alone. (I can’t remember where I heard this. Have you ever heard this?) 2) What is up w/ the cross drawn in the snow between the bear prints? Did you draw that there? Did the kids? Did the bear? Is this some thing about that “Footprints” poem?

    You should probably tell your readers your shoe size. If you were comparing those bear prints to a size 10, that ratio would represent a bigger bear.

    BEARS! Beware….

    • Ok, my shoe size…Ladies 7 and 1/2 to 8 and 1/2 depending on the shoe. I don’t know exactly the size of my boots, but average grown up woman size.

      I have heard about carrying an orange bandana to wave at bears. I am skeptical about the helpfulness of said orange bandana waving, but I know some people swear by that bear protection technique. I do have an orange bandana somewhere. Perhaps I should dig it out.

      I didn’t draw the cross in the snow. I doubt the bear drew the cross. Maybe Jesus was walking with the bear and drew the cross. I don’t know. I suspect either the kids drew the cross or that was just a weird (or miraculous?) result of the melting snow.

  2. Pingback: Three Bears (Part 2) | Throwing Stories into the Ether

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