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Bear Boy

Posted Date: 09 September 2008 at 04:40:29PM

I recently completed a tornado tour of my home province in Canada. One main difference when compared to other trips home? Escorting my Kiwi boyfriend through bear country.


Looking back, the majority of the trip seemed to be spent in the car listening to my wide-eyed, unscathed by the threat of dangerous wildlife, boyfriend talking non-stop about how excited he was to finally come to Canada and see a bear. Wait, not bear...bears. In fact, he was expecting the country side to be riddled with them. He kept saying: "Well, where are they? Where ARE they Alicia? Where are they hiding?" Things were getting increasingly desperate as we'd already been at my Dad's rural British Columbia home for a week and not one sighting. Dad had explained that the orchard apples weren't ripe yet and that the bears usually started appearing at the end of August when the scent of ripened apples hanging low on the trees would be too much to resist. But behind closed-doors it was non-stop: "WHEN ARE WE GOING TO SEE A BEAR?"


Finally, after he'd been barely tied over with a few Squirrel, Deer, Gopher, Coyote and Mountain Goat sightings (okay it was a white speck on the side of the mountain behind the property that I claimed was a Goat, but in truth was probably a rock), not to mention oodles of bear stories from my cheeky cousins, oh and some dried up bear poop, we hit the road and headed for the Rocky Mountains. Please God, I thought, let there be bears.


It took a full day of driving to cross the Alberta border into Banff and, you guessed it, not one bear. Just traffic, hot sun, no air conditioning and constant, seemingly delirious, babbling about bears. Never mind the gorgeous scenery, BIG mountains, wildflowers, turquoise rivers and the endless road winding ahead, the boy had bear on the brain big time.


Ironically, as we rolled into the first campsite of our trip, the Ranger told us to be careful about keeping our food in the car and never to leave anything unattended since a Grizzly bear had prowled through camp the night before. He handed us a pamphlet about ‘bear proofing' our campsite and I'm pretty sure Bear Boy read it word for word.


After locating our campsite and pitching the tent it was time for a fire and some grub. I began unloading the esky and other amenities from the boot of the car, but no sooner had I set up everything on the picnic table I spotted Bear Boy packing everything back in.


"What are you doing?" I asked calmly.

"Didn't you hear the Ranger? We have to bear proof our campsite." He replied.

"Yes, but how do you propose we eat with everything packed into the car?"


Blank stare.


Lesson 1: For those of you planning a camping trip in bear country - food can be out if you are present at the campsite. You only have to put everything away if you are leaving the campsite unattended for ANY length of time or going to sleep for the night.


Needless to say, Bear Boy spent the entire night starting at every rustle and twig cracking outside our tent. Apparently it's okay to see a bear from the car, but not from inside the tent.


After an average sleep we set out the next day and struck gold. My savior: a little black bear patrolling the ditch alongside the highway for berries.


Lesson 2: When you spot a bear. Don't get out of the car.


Okay, so he didn't get out of the car to go and stand next to the gawping Americans with their five foot long camera lenses, but he wanted to.


Five minutes later we saw another smallish black bear and some big horned sheep. At last Bear Boy was satisfied and turned back into my sweet Timothy...for half a day. Then he was on to the Grizzlies: "Where ARE they? Do you think we'll see any? How big are they? Bigger than a Black bear? Do they attack people? Should we go hiking? I want to pat one..."





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