Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Memorable Camping Experience

This week's writing prompt from Mama's Losin' It is one I can't resist. Thanks, Kat, for yet another great idea!

I've done a LOT of camping in my life, and all over the world, I might add. I can't remember too many of the specifics from the early trips of my life, but I know there are still stories that go around when my extended family is sitting around the table together, laughing. I know we camped all over California, plus places in Texas and possibly North and South Carolina. We camped in a few places in Europe, though I'd have to check in with the 'rents to find out just where. Most of these trips were tent camping experiences, and a few were in pop-up trailers that we rented. I've also done the RV camping, and I can honestly say I love it. Especially with kids, who are bound to eventually need some down time, which is wonderfully provided within the warm electrical layer of an RV. I love roughing it, but I can't dismiss the wonders of a dvd and some popcorn.

My favorite camping excursions have been since I met my husband. During the four years that we dated there were many trips to some wonderful parts of California, including the one I'll write about today -- Mammoth.

In the late 90's we spent an entire week up there at a beautiful state park. The sites were spacious, the view was amazing and we were even able to set up our hammock to lounge in. I think I read at least two books that trip, including "Rose Madder" by Stephen King. We hiked, rode our bikes, fished, enjoyed the campfire and had ourselves a wonderful time.

On the fifth of what would be six nights, we made a big camping error. Normally, before we would go to bed, we would lock up the wood box of food in the truck, because the Mammoth area is filled with black bears that love them some yummy people food. Do you see where this is going?

We forgot to put it away, and at some ungodly hour of the night, we awoke to the sound of that wood box being torn to shreds. On a side note, I should mention that it wasn't actually our wood box -- it was Rick's roommate's box that he was kind enough to lend to us. Sorry Mike! When the bear was finished with our gingersnaps and chips, he decided he'd move on to our cooler. Which was sitting right next to the entrance of our tent. To say I was panicking would be putting it mildly. As he stood there tipping our locked cooler back and forth, I was on the other side of the tent, ready to bust through a hole I was ready to make if/when he decided we were next to investigate. Let's not forget that the only thing between us and this large wild animal was a thin piece of worthless nylon.

Thankfully, he tired of his game with our cooler, and off he went to harass some other camping site. We somehow got back to sleep, and the next day we did two things.

1. Cleaned up the huge mess that darn bear made.
2. Checked into a motel.

I've never loved a rented room more than I did that night. The hot shower...the clean clothes...going out to dinner at a restaurant...eating popcorn while watching TV. Ah, the benefits of electricity!


Nicole said...

That happened to me when I was younger! I have never camped since.
Thank you for your kind words and know that my grandmother will live on forever.
My contest starts today, stop by!

CJ said...

Great post. I've heard lots of bear stories, but thankfully never ran into any myself.

Angela said...

Oh my goodness! I would have insisted on a hotel, too! I've been camping tons of times, but I've never encountered a bear or anything. The most trouble we've had with destructive animals has just been with raccoons.

Dawn said...

We had a bear in camp when we went to Yosemite when I was 10 - 12 years old. I remember being herded to the car with the other kids, and locked in while we waited for the animal to pass on by. (We were all sitting around the campfire) The way I remember it, the bear was up on two legs and snarling... But I think that part was my imagination. I also remember the adults stringing up some sort of rope around our tents with beer cans hanging from it as a "bear alarm." That must have been a great idea as they drank the beers they were going to use. :D

We still tent camp, but someday I look forward to a trailer. Every kid has to tent camp at least once, right?

kel said...

Scary! I don't think I have the patience to camp anymore!!

Ranch Girl said...

Oh my goodness!!!! Yup, I'm thinkin' a motel over a campsite with a bear near my tent is a winner anyday!

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. Goodness. I would never go camping again! Yowza!

Anonymous said...

Now *that* is a camping story alright! Geez Merrie...I'm impressed that you are still a camper after a near bear experience like that!