Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bears, Buffalo, and Bathrooms?

As I type this, I am sitting on a campground in Yellowstone.  Oh, the wonders of modern technology! Anyways, I digress...

I grew up watching Yogi the Bear on TNT. “Jellystone” sounds close enough to “Yellowstone” to me, so I wasn’t too concerned about the wildlife population here. I can handle a few friendly bears that drive the park rangers crazy by stealing picnic baskets once in a while. In fact, I rather HOPED to see a bear on our stay in America’s great outdoors. That is, until we got within 100 miles of the park. They don’t mess around about grizzlies out here.

In Cody, Wyoming (the home of Buffalo Bill, FYI) we – as typical tourists are – were lured by the highway signs to stop and purchase “Bear Spray.” If you think this sounds like something you use to keep up-do flyaways at a minimum – you aren’t alone. It is, however, actually a red pepper spray used to deter bears from attacking you. Yes, we bought some. Yes, the girl at the store recommended that we sleep with it beside us and have it easily accessible at ALL times. Yes, I immediately began planning a way to re-route to the nearest Marriot Courtyard.

During the following two hour car ride, I read the Bear Safety Literature that was attached to our spray. The following are direct quotes:

“Charges are often a test to resolve a situation and are often ‘bluff charges’ where the bear stops short of you, veers off and runs right past you. A bear might bluff charge many times before leaving. A bear may also bluff charge a few times and then come at you at a different angle.”

“If a bear comes into your tent… Unload on the bear with everything you have. Anything goes. Use whatever physical resistance you can. Fight back or die!”

And my personal favorite: “Some bears, mostly young bears unfamiliar with the dangers of human contact, have been known to actually stalk humans. If you believe this is the situation you are in, it is recommended that you defend yourself aggressively.” -- Jeff assures me that this is NOT what it means, but I can’t help worrying that a bear is following me and watching me everywhere I go.

Oh, and just to lighten things up a bit at the end… a friendly reminder: “Some individuals, under the mistaken impression that bear spray acts a repellent, have sprayed their personal items and even their children and themselves like it is OFF insect repellent! DO NOT spray PEPPER POWER BEAR DETERRENT on people.” Oh, thank goodness they told me that. I totally would have bathed in it. (Seriously.)
To say I was scared would be a vast understatement. Thankfully, Jeff had done some major convincing and I had determined that the bear would not get me unless I prompted it to do so. After all, in his words, we were much were likely to be killed on the interstate on the way here than by a bear. Comforting? So… We approached with caution, but confidence.

Apparently Yellowstone, however, prefers caution. As soon as we entered the gates we were handed THIS flier. (I didn’t even consider worrying about buffalo too… awesome.) The man at our check-in also told us that a grizzly had been “hanging out” in our campsite for the past two weeks with at least one sighting every day. He assured us that there had been no violence, but reminded us that a bear sighting was considered an emergency and we should call 9-1-1 immediately. I’d say!

Needless to say, we went to bed with our handy Bear Spray nearby. There’s a lot to worry about out in here in the woods…

Fast forward to 7:00AM mountain time… Jeff and I are sitting in the Yellowstone Medic pre coffee/shower/or even the early morning hike we’d dreamed about. As it turns out, we survived our first night with no close encounters of the bear or buffalo kind, BUT my husband – the great outdoorsman – blacked out in the bathroom and hit his head.* Luckily, three hours later, he checked out ok and we were back at our campsite with ice, Tylenol, and a new fear of… bathrooms?

Trust me when I say that this looks a lot worse in person... Poor thing!  (Oh, and he DID shave his head before we left... that hair loss is NOT a result of the fall.)
Oh, the adventure continues… And, don’t worry, we’re still smiling. We’ve seen some INCREDIBLE sights and some beautiful – and non threatening – wildlife. More updates and pictures coming soon!

In the meantime, Happy Fourth of July!!!
(I had hoped to get this up sooner… but this will have to do!)
Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota – All items purchased at Walmart & made in Nicaragua. Irony at its finest!

*Jeff is FINE… the doctors checked out everything, and we think it was just a random thing --- he says because he’s driven too much! We took it very easy today and hope to hit the trails hard in the morning!


  1. I thought camping in Australia was scary with all the snakes and spiders we have, but they are nothing compared to bears and buffalo!
    congratulations on your survival.
    hope jeff is feeling ok :)

  2. I am crying so hard... i am truly!! that picture at Mt. Rushmore is priceless!! I especially LOVE Jeff's shorts/trunks!!! Bud and Emily had on the same shirts, except theirs said I love VA!!!
    Your story is so darn funny!! I just love it! I hope you had a better night camping!! I told your dad if a bear is in your campground, it will certainly find YOU TWO!!!!but it will love you, like I do!!! Have fun!!

  3. Oh my word. So funny! The whole bear thing and then the buffalo...I'm sure you guys are creating a gazillion memories! Can't wait to hear more about your trip!

  4. buffalo? really?
    bears i get...but buffalo!

    it sounds like you are having an AMAZING time!

  5. So funny! I don't think I could sleep at night! Looks like you guys are having a wonderful time!

  6. Wow, I figured I would hate camping before I read this. Now I know I would! I'm glad everyone is safe and okay, but maybe the Marriot isn't such a bad idea!

  7. I don't think I could enjoy anyone else's summer vacation blogs like yours. Please update as much as possible. I love it! Continue the fun!

  8. glad that Jeff is ok, I bet that was kinda scary! Love your 4th of July picture, very cool! SOunds like an awesome trip so far!

  9. 1) So glad your hubs is okay. I bet that was quite a scare!
    2) We're going out to Yellowstone next week & my husband already ordered our bear spray, complete with chest holster. ha!
    3) Your post equally scares & excites me for our trip!
    Thanks for posting! :)

  10. I have been enjoying reading your blog the last couple of hours as I sit in the boring gift shop at the Hotel Roanoke. It sounds like you and Jeff are have the best of times. I just love your stories, they have certianly made me smile. I especially love all the pictures (the one with Jeff in those shorty shorts are too much. I think your dad needs a pair along with a corn hat for your mother.....I could just die!)

    Glad you are safe and having fun. I look forward to reading about your next adventure.


  11. Picnics are tons of fun! Enjoying the beautiful weather with friends and colleagues can be fun. And packing a great meal for everyone to carry around with these fashionable and convenient picnic backpacks. Packing something delicious and nutritious shouldn’t be confined to that old brown paper bag or disposable plastic container . picnic baskets


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