Mamas, Beer and Bears

Real Camping

On from my last post…I feel like such a dumbass for suggesting I’d be prowling around the fire with my cougar panties on. In fact, I played the smiling frump in my full-coverage one piece (with a cool picture of a sunset forest, if that counts for anything.)

Besides our family and my caregiver’s family, there was only another single woman and her son, plus a happily married buddy of theirs flying solo for the weekend. The other women, both West-Coasters in their 30s, wore low-cut dresses, necklaces and swingy skirts. Loyal to my Alberta roots, I only brought clothes with stains and holes. Real camping. Grrrrowl!

A Real Bear

I would definitely pitch here again, the North Beach campground in Golden Ears Provincial Park. No electricity hook-ups and one hand-pump water station kept most of the RVs away. And although it was a pain lugging my two-year-old down the big hill to the beach every day, it was actually quite nice being in the sites farthest from the lake. We backed onto a forest of tall spruce with thick green moss making alien shapes out of fallen logs and branches. The kids ran back and forth in homemade paper masks, inventing rules for an epic hide-and-seek drama understandable only to them. We joked that although there were party animals on either side of us, at least they were keeping the bears away.

Ha ha! Silly to say that out loud. On the Saturday, the loudest night by far, Mr G and I went to bed laughing about 90s rap from one direction, the endless wheeze of someone pumping up a mattress in another, and a drunken cackle fest from yet another. No matter. Now that I’m on anti-depressants, beer makes me sleepy long before drunk; I jammed in my earplugs and went to sleep.

Some time later, I woke to some large-sounding dude shouting, “Har! Har! Har!” as he moved down the campsite road in front of us, in the direction of the toilets.

“You idiots,” he shouted at his buddies. “That’s how you scare off a bear.”

Good advice, I thought. Make some noise if you need to pee in the dark. And back to sleep I went.

Apparently, the dude was demonstrating with a real live bear, unbeknownst to me, one strolling around the whole campground. Our tent was snuggled up right beside the sweet woman  with her son. She could tell by the voices from different sites that the bear had come from behind us, crossed through and circled back around. Confusing? It doesn’t matter, that’s how it felt trying to locate a bear using other people’s screams outside a tent. The whole time she was terrified, she said, because she realized she’d left bags of fruit inside her tent.

Eeek! At an opportune moment, judging from farther afield screaming, she darted across the site and stashed the food safely in her car. Lucky thing, because not too long later, my own Mr G woke to loud and heavy snuffling very close to his head.

The same woman began clapping her hands loudly and then shouting, “Go on! Get out of here!” after every rhythm. Mr G said he wanted to shout too, but the snuffling was just too close. He wanted to support the Get Lost Bear efforts, but was nervous about startling him. Probably shit scared too, as i would have been if i’d been aware.

Anyway, the bear kept snuffling and our sweet neighbour kept up her clapping alarm, long enough to wake up this mama bear. “Waked up twice by drunks?” I thought. “Grrr!”

Clappity-clap!

“Get out of here!” says our brave woman.

Clappity-clap!

“Get out of here!”

And then tentatively, “Wendy? Mr G? Are you there?”

Ahem! Of course, I realize. There’s a drunk lost in our campsite trying to find his way home with echolocation. This vulnerable single mom shouldn’t have to do all the shouting.

The next time I heard “that drunk” clapping, I gave him what for.

“Stop your bloody clapping, and GO TO BED. WE’RE SLEEPING!”

“Wendy,” Mr G stage-whispered loud enough for me to hear through my plugs. “She’s scaring away a bear.”

Oh.

I guess earplugs allow through drunken Ha!s and claps, but not lower–toned growls and heavy breathing from wild animals.

(And that, Ladies, is why you should not be afraid to wear ear plugs if you have a night-waking baby. Higher pitches)

Hmm. Well. Since I was too tired to make good decisions, I went back to sleep and didn’t learn about our actual close encounter  until the next morning.

An actual bear! Huh! Now that’s camping.

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