Friday, January 23, 2009


It was a year and a half ago. We had paid for a wedding that didn't happen, so our budget was limited and our time suddenly free. I begged my dad to go camping, telling him it was my favorite thing to do. He said, "Sure! Randy told me about a place down past Visalia that's free and totally unknown by most people!" We all agreed, went shopping for camping food and some supplies, and packed up the white trailor. We were on our way that July morning, driving two hours to reach our campsite. What we arrived at what was a beautiful representation of the California forest, with large trees, endless dirt, and a small creek trickling nearby. Pookie, our small dog, found a spot in the car and refused to budge: she hated getting dirty! We set up our two tents and started a fire for dinner. Thankfully, we found a secluded site close to the bathrooms. That evening we relaxed in front of the fire, reading books, telling stories, and enjoying NOT being in Madera. Before we headed to our sleepingbags for the night, Dad and I put all of our food and water into the white trailor to protect it from the bears.

Yes, bears.

My dad is a bear magnet.

We found huge bear prints all over our trailor the next morning. Mom took CSI pictures, but they really don't even show how gigantic the paws were. We giggled at ourselves for being so clever as to outsmart the bears--which didn't happen all that often in my family. We were all a little shocked that Pookie hadn't barked at the bears during the night: she barked at the campers two hundred yards away, but not the bears?? The next night, however, us and the bears seemed to be on the same page.

We had no running water in the campground, so we used our five gallon thermoses to hold our water. We were worried that the bears would damage them during the night, so they were locked up in the trailor with the rest of our food. Because of this, we, the girls, drank a ton of water to store up for the night.

Sometime in the middle of the night, we all had to pee. I got up, found my flashlight, and walked the fifty yards to the cement building that housed the bathrooms. Tori came too because I wouldn't go by myself. After we came back and snuggled back down into our sleeping bags, Michayla tried to convince us to go with her. I refused, finally comfortable in bed, but Tori said to ask Dad. "I can't wake Dad up!" Michayla protested. I sighed and said, "He's already up. Can't you hear him taking Joe to the bathroom?" Indeed, the two boys were taking advantage of being boys and were taking a potty trip several yards away. Michayla capitalized on the opportunity and rushed out to Dad, begging him to go to the bathroom with her. He said he'd walk out to the clearing and wait for her there. She booked it to the bathroom and Dad waited in the clearing between the potty and our campsite. I drift off, figuring the situation had resolved itself, but I am wrong.

I hear Dad start banging the lid of our dutch oven with a hammer. Seriously? What was he doing? Michayla kept shouting "I'm not coming! I'm not coming!" Dad started whispering, rather loudly, "C'mon! C'mon!" Pookie our brave (not) dogg pokes her head out of Kit's sleeping bag (stinking camel) and starts to trot outside to Dad. I had to sit up and cut her off, grabbing th back half of her body and pulling her to the ground. Stupid dog. After a few minutes, Michayla dashed through the tent door and practically slid into her sleeping bag.

This is what happened:

On Michayla's way back to the campsite, from the bathroom, she made eye contact with a bear. Two bright eyes, described as "like Gollum's eyes in Lord of the Rings!", peered at her from the trees. Dad saw the bear too, grabbed the hammer and dutch oven lid, and started banging them together to scare the bear off. The bear didn't seemed phased at first, and then bolted off in the opposit direction. Michayla, still thoroughly freaked, ran back to the potty and hid in the building. Dad started whispering to her "C'mon! C'mon!". She shouted back, "No!" This went on for several minutes before Dad went and got her. She ran back into the tent, and you know what happened after that. Here's a funny little side note: Dad could NOT figure out why Michayla wouldn't leave the bathroom! Duh! It's a cement building! Oh Daddy...

My family has a history with bears. Actually, it's my dad that's the bear magnet. Another camping story, up in Mineral King, also involved a "bear" and a midnight bathroom run.

I was about ten, maybe eleven, years old. Tori and I were in the small yellow tent together, barely fitting, but totally loving the seclusion. We kept warm in our tiny tent, but it was hard to move around without the other person noticing. One night Tori woke up and told me she had to pee. There were no bathrooms nearby (or close enough to go in the middle of the night), so I told her "just go pee in the bushes!" I was tired, grumpy, and getting colder by the minute. She went outside, walked a yard away, and, well... you know. WELL. Dad was in the big tent nearby, and heard a rustling in the bushes. He listens again, making sure he wasn't imagining it. When his suspicion is confirmed, he starts making loud growling noises to scare the "bear" away. Tori, a.k.a. the "bear", thinks that there is a bear behind Mom and Dad's tent, doesn't even take the time to pull up her pants, and jumps back into the tent.

"What's going on?" I asked.
"There's a bear out there!" she said.
"Did you get to pee?" I asked.

The next morning, Dad and Tori talked to each other about the bear that came through camp last night. It took them a while, but they finally realized that they were both talking to their bear!

Ahh, my family.

1 comment:

Deidra Smith said...

You, and your family crack me up. you just know how to tell a story. Thanks for sharing!