Monday, June 4, 2012


Last weekend, as told in last week's post... havetogetbetteratblogging..., I went camping in the backwoods/ backriver of nowhere.

The weekend was as successful a camping trip as any-- sleeping bags in the river, second degree sunburns, bug bites (several of them on top of the second degree sunburn), SWARMS of butterflies, canoe trips, a lack of other humans, waking up to only mountains, river, smouldering ashes and the smell of last night's fire, no shower for three days (while somehow smelling neutral--even by day three!), perfect weather, great food, great friends laughing around a campfire, and whiskey. Good whiskey. Lots of good whiskey.

I ate saucy BBQ'd baby back ribs unlike-a-lady, (too many) beans straight from a can, s'mores (sch'mores as everyone hated hearing me call them a thousand times throughout the weekend), corn on the cob, hot dogs on a whittled stick, and, of course, sch'more sch'mores.

I'll save the story about three-boys-in-one-canoe-lit-by-two-tiki-torches-shooting-off-guns-at-midnight-while-listening-to-Metallica for another post. For now, I'll tell you about the bear that came to visit at 3am.

Julie and I slept in the same tent (if you're wondering how this came to be, please re-read that last paragraph), and at approximately 3am, I sat up to stretch my back/legs/arms/neck/body/everything (who knew sleeping on the ground is 1,000x  more comfortable than sleeping on a sleeping pad?). After a decent back/legs/arms/neck/body/everything stretch, Julie shot straight up and said in a whisper, "I think there's something outside" to which my heart sinks in response and I listen as hard as a nervous-nilly can while also trying not to breath as hard as a nervous-nilly can.

Sure enough, the soft banging of plastic coolers full of baby back ribs... pleassseeee don't take the baby back ribs... quickly came to my ears. I think my blood stopped flowing and/or all rushed to my toes and fingertips. We listened for a few seconds before I grabbed my glasses (why? Am I going to really unzip the tent to get a good look at a wild bear from 10 ft away?) and put my hair up in a ponytail (why? I guess just in case I died... I didn't want anyone to find my bits of body with a mop where my hair was supposed to be... I do have some standards of presentation-- even in a tent at 3am in the backwoods/ backriver of nowhere with a bear about to gnaw on my food face. This vanity/insanity dates back to my earlier years when I would make sure my hair looked "good" [sidenote- not once did my hair look good before the introduction of a flatiron] before going to bed just in case my house started on fire and "cute" firemen had to rescue me from my bedroom).

We listen for a few seconds more as an adrenaline rush overcomes me. My arms get warm, and my eyes try to squeeze close as I try to force them to stay open as if I stood up too quickly or am about to faint. My heart POUNDS. The banging continues and other things begin to move around. Why didn't we tie up the food...whywhyWHY... shitshitshit.  Then after a moment of silence, BOOM! A blaze of orange and yellow can be seen from inside the tent. SHITSHITSHIT!

I thought, in the few milli-seconds I had to think, that the bear must have knocked something over and started a huge fire on the tent next to us (housing my Sleeping Beauty of a boyfriend). I assure you, this is a perfectly rational thought at 3am.

Julie starts unzipping the tent as I'm screaming "ALAN, GET UP! ALAN! SOMETHING'S ON FIRE! GET OUT OF YOUR TENT!" As we finish unzipping the inner tent and start to unzip the outer rain barrier, I'm preparing myself to save Alan from a fire and fight off an enraged bear (possibly full of baby back ribs) all while not peeing my pants when I hear Alan unzip his tent and say "It's Sean making a fire in the pit... I think that's where it's supposed to happen...," and then I hear the re-zip of a tent and the grumble of a woken-Sleeping-Beauty and the swish of sleeping bags and blankets being rearranged.

Sean. Not a bear.

No one says anything as we stare at Sean, the non-bear, at 3am, our adrenaline and the fire-in-the-fire-pit blazing. (If you're wondering why Sean is awake at 3am making a fire on a frigid night instead of in a tent warm in a dry sleeping bag, please re-read 4 paragraphs up.) And that's that.

That's the story, of all our stories, that I want to share. Sure, there are stories of canoeing through a winding channel lined with tall, thin evergreen trees and overgrown brush, and stories of Pickle Fingers, and other fond and funny memories, but sharing them all would eventually result in glazed and wandering eyes, and a feeling like I'm trying to describe a dream to you (you know the feeling... you're sitting there as someone tells you "yeah it was the weirdest dream ever! I was flying business class to Russia when all of a sudden, the stewards come walking through and they have dinosaur heads and lion tails. And then all of a sudden, we're in Africa and...." You try and follow as if you're interested, but you're not, and, as your eyelids and posture begin to droop while they babble on about polar bears in the African bush, you remember that you're supposed to somewhere (anywhere) in 5 minutes.

Because you're reading a blog about camping and non-bears, I can thus assume that you have nowhere to be in 5 minutes and therefore no 'out' from my weekend recreation so I'll save the memories. But I will remember them, and I've shared them with good people in my life, and that's what matters.

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