Friday, June 27, 2014

The day Dad wrestled a blackbear

While we were on our camping trip to Yellowstone Park last weekend, I began reminiscing to the grandkiddos about my early trips to The Park. At the time we were living in Seattle and the trip to Yellowstone was the first big vacation I remember ever taking with the family. I was going into the seventh grade and had only two brothers, one on my left and one on the right of me in the back seat of the car.  The temperature at the end of July was sweltering, but anything over 80 degrees for a Puget Sounder is steamy.

The five of us were stuck in the Valiant with no air conditioning and no seat belts! This was a time in The Park's history they're not to proud of, the black bears had run amok. They were allowed stand at the side of the road and beg for any tidbit that a human would offer. Visitors bought/brought marshmallows not for toasting at the campfire but to feed the bears. If you didn't offer the bears a treat they would just stick their paws in through the window and grab anything handy. BUT not in our car, everytime there was a traffic jam, Mom would yell from the front seat, "Roll your windows up!"  (Just because everyone else fed the bears didn't mean we would. WE, after all, "used the sense God gave us!")  So a hot car instantly became HOTTER!
All and all as I remember, we had a great time. As we began the trek homeward we stopped in Butte, Montana, to do laundry. The laundromat was on Harrison Avenue, one of the main streets in the town. As Mom and I looked out the window, watching a tumbleweed roll down the middle of the street with the temperature at 104, Mom stated, "This is the last place on earth I'd want to live." By December of that very year, it's exactly where we were living!
The next summer with Mom eight months pregnant, one of our favorite Seattle neighbor's drove out for a visit.  Bea, Earl and their son Bobby had been great friends. Bobby was the first kiddo I ever babysat, Bea is responsible for my love of knitting, and Earl was always laughing and fun to be around even after being in a TB sanatorium for two years and ultimately loosing a lung to the disease.

We had a great time tent camping in Yellowstone. The black bears would add a little excitement to the campground by wandering in and out of the campsites looking for goodies in garbage cans or heading to the immense garbage dumps nearby. After we were all settled in sleeping bags inside the tent late one night, my dad was woken to the sound of the ice chest rattling just outside the doorway of the tent. Dad instantly jumped out of his sleeping bag and began yelling for the bear to leave. He got the tent door unzipped and jumped out to not only protect us but the ice chest from the bear. Standing in the middle of the campsite in nothing but this undies he spied not a black bear but Earl! The next day Earl was still chuckling about how he had tricked Dad.
The next night we all were snuggled into sleeping bags and were either asleep or nearing dreamland when the same procedure was followed but with a little different outcome. The ice chest began to rattle but Dad refused to move and just shouted at Earl, "It was fun last night but not so much now. Earl just go to bed!" The noise subsided and Mom and Dad did a little grumbling back and forth about the neighbors taking a joke just a little to far.

It wasn't until morning, as we began getting cereal and milk out of the ice chest we realized there had been a bear outside our tent.  The ice chest was dented but the bear hadn't been able to get inside to  eat an early breakfast. Again the joke was on my dad and Earl spent the day chuckling as though he and the bear had been in cahoots.

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