As I sit on this Sunday afternoon in my jammies, I have to jump ahead in our grand adventures of the summer to recall the bears of the west. You see, AWL has left me for a week. He is on his own big man adventure. It's opening weekend for bear here in hokey ole PA. Leon has never killed a bear in his entire life, but he goes every year hoping to bag an adorably massive Baloo. I imagine him talking the poor thing to death with overly exaggerated stories about his life. Possibly having the bear choke on his own spit laughing at the now famous Fireworks story or the time we jumped off a small cliff and there was a weird anatomical phenomenon (all of which you shall hear in good time). Luring the poor animal in with his strange South African accent he acquired in Shillington, Pa. After all, East coast bears are nothing like west coast bears.
You see, here on the East coast, we have civilized our bears. (Actually, I believe the West coast mentality is making its way back. Be careful especially on the Appalachian Trail. There have been relatively recent bear related deaths on there. While I joke about it, Black Bears are predators just like grizzlies!)
We take for granted just putting up a tent and camping out. Our wilderness is basically an extended version of our backyard here in Pennsylvania. Once we left the Midwest, the idea of bears in cute Disney movies like the Jungle Book faded into a frightening slasher movie. In fact, all of the cute cuddly mammals of the wilderness started to morph into our minds as dark creatures with glowing red and green eyes in the massive darkness.
Our plan was to camp out as much as possible in order to reduce costs during our trip. And anyway, what is better than being out in the great wide open of the Rocky mountains?!
Our naive little east coast minds began to question that freedom first on a short walk to see if that gritty white patch really was snow....we got out of the car and AWL and I trotted a few hundred yards out into a meadow and proceeded to stomp on snow to make sure it was real. (all the way UP the Rocky mountain pass one imagines mystical driving tunes and endless giggling and awe as we careen through a car commercial for an SUV to the top elevation of almost 12,000 feet. However, our imaginings would be absolutely incorrect. We did careen, though, which means I was white knuckling the "Oh Crap!" handle as I stared wide-eyed down into the abyss that the sheer cliff allowed me to see. All of this, while constantly arguing with AWL that YES I'M SURE! IT'S SNOW! I KNOW IT'S SUMMER...IT'S SNOW!)
We finally reached a spot where we could pull over that included things like dirt instead of just plain old thin air. It was good to stretch our legs after all....and pry my fingers off of the handles in the car.
Frolicking....I'm pretty sure that's what you call it:
OH MY GOD....NO ONE IS WALKING THEIR DOG ALL THE WAY UP HERE....WHAT IS THAT?!
LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS....OH MY! (Actually we decided it's a wolf print.)
I didn't get video of either one of us high tailing it back to the car in a rushed..."be cool be cool" Shuffling walk while sweeping the surroundings for ominous silhouettes, then power walking as the idea of being hunted pushed us into an all out sprint to the car, yanking on the handles and slamming the doors while we simultaneously slammed ourselves in the seats. The idea of the wild shifted as we caught our breath.
We were not reassured as we continued our drive and spotted several of the prey animals startling close to the roads looking as wide eyed as we had just been. We were one of them not a few minutes ago. The wild is wilder the "wester" we go!