Monday, July 16, 2012

The Hillbilly and the Other Bear

In this episode of The Hillbilly's Corner, we find out how I nearly lost him before I ever found him! Here's The Hillbilly:

In my last post, I began the first of two posts having to do with bears and photography!  Today I will complete that posting.

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I will go ahead and inform you that my dad was impulsive and many times acted without thinking.  He did everything quickly, and I am sure that as a child he was hyperactive.  To my way of thinking, he never completely came out of it.  Actually, his entire family was much that way!  Because of this, my mom, though she loved his family, wasn’t wild about visiting them.  She said that unless you were willing to try to have a conversation with them while on the run, then you were wasting your time.   

Being hyper led to  some of them doing many things without completely thinking them out.  Things, such as my dad picking up a porcupine by the tail, or going down into a volcano's cone and looking down into its steaming vent.  Or my uncle seeing a groundhog out in his field, running up behind it, catching it by the tail and then trying to stab it with his knife.  He missed and stabbed through his foot.  Or my uncle, as a boy, putting a 22 caliber bullet (blank) into a tree and stepping back about 20 feet and shooting it to see what would happen.  It flew back and hit him!

This type of thinking, me also being somewhat hyper, and my trying to do my best to be good at things also got me into these types of problems. In this case it was photography, with that cheap and stupid camera, that led to what could have been a really dangerous encounter with a bear.
When I was sixteen, we went to Canada and fished for a couple of days.  We then went on a quick trip west to go to Jasper and Banff National parks in Canada, and then down through Glacier National park in the U.S.  We planned on heading home from there.  These are all beautiful parks and I would encourage anyone to go and see them.   
Jasper National Park, Canada

At any rate, we were driving through Jasper.  Most of my memories of the scenery are of driving through this long, narrow, and pretty valley which was lying between beautiful mountains and seeing almost no cars.   In fact, we would sometimes drive for ten to fifteen minutes without seeing one.  It was almost as if we had the park to ourselves.  During this, in the distance, Dad sees the only bear we have seen on this trip.  It is coming from the mountains on the one side and going towards the mountains on the other side.  Yes!  It is coming towards us and is going to cross the road!  

My dad says, “Grab the camera and get a good picture of that bear.  We don’t have any pictures of bears in Canada.”  To me, this bear doesn’t look a whole lot different from a bear in the U.S., but I grab the camera.  Thus the adventure begins!  

I got out of the car and began walking to where it looked like the bear would cross the road.  Basically, I got in position to where it would have to change course or walk over the top of me.  Now remember, this is not a Yellowstone, see people all the time, go to the cars, feed me regardless of what the sign says bear!  This is a wild bear.  I had not had any experience and did not know what to expect with such bears!   But as the bear begins to get nearer, I bring the camera to my eye.  I am telling myself to wait until the bear looks nice and large in the lens so it will even look big in the little postage stamp pictures that I mentioned in my last post.  I am determined to get a good picture of this bear with this stupid, cheap camera.  Finally, I take the picture, lower the camera, and much to my surprise, find that the bear that looked to be 20 feet from me through the camera, is in reality about 6 feet away and is in the middle of a step that will make it about 4 ½ feet from me.  

The next portion of this is to be read at hyper-speed because that is the speed of the thoughts that were now going through my head.  Stinking, stupid camera is going to get me killed!  Don’t panic and run it might kick in the bear’s predatory, attack instinct!  How far away is the car?  Crud, it is still conveniently parked 150 STINKING FEET AWAY!    MOM AND DAD, WHAT IN THE  WORLD ARE YOU THINKING?  YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN HONKING THE HORN OR STARTING THE CAR AND GETTING CLOSER OR HOLLERING OR SOMETHING!  

Now, Cynthia has mentioned in previous posts, that I do math in my head.  Lots of figures were going through my head.  Bears run thirty some miles per hour, humans twenty some miles per hour.  When the bears foot step falls, he will be 4 ½ feet from me.  I have an explosive first running step, so if I surprise the bear, I can expand the distance between us to about 8 feet.  So based on bear speed comparing to man speed, the bear would catch me somewhere between 25 to 30 feet --- still about 125 feet from the STINKING, CONVENIENTLY PARKED CAR!  

Mom and Dad will get to see me being mauled from that distance.  But, if they were lucky enough to have two more of these cheap, stupid, stinking cameras and looked through them, it might save them from being as traumatized!  Through them, the scene would just look like a small,  brown, and fuzzy ball that is JUMPING ALL OVER a somewhat smaller multicolored ball.  Oh!  Look, now there are red streaks in the mix!  Stinking camera!  

Anyway, after all these assorted thoughts fly through my head, the bear’s foot hits the ground!  You can now slow down your reading to regular speed.  The bear is now 4 ½ feet from me!  And based upon all my calculations, I turn my right side towards the bear.  I then (appear) to calmly, and steadily walk towards the car.  This gives the appearance to the bear that I am not aggressive or afraid.  In actuality, my adrenalin has kicked in and my hearing has become superhuman!  This is easier for me than some because my ears are large.  They are somewhat like small satellite receivers and were working like that at that time to try to tell if the bear was following or attacking.   
Cynthia's Note: Yep!

In what seemed like three weeks later, I made it to the car.  I opened the car door, sat down, and closed the door.  Whew!  There is a song that says, “I feel good!"  Let's sing it together!  I did feel good!  
Here is the extent of the conversation in the car.  Dad  --- boy, you sure let that bear get close.  Mom --- yeah!  I asked your dad --- don’t you think that he is letting that bear get awfully close?  Etc.  And I calmly said, yeah – the bear looked a lot further away in the camera!  Stinking camera anyway!  And we drove away into the sunset!
As for the bear, I wonder what it was thinking about this.  I suspect its first thought was something like this.  This is one stupid hillbilly!  Followed by such thoughts as, I guess I am going to have to slap him out of the way.  Or, I am not hungry and he looks kind of skinny anyway.  Or, I guess I could kill him, but apparently he is not too bright, and it just doesn’t seem sporting.  Or, I could kill him, but he is pretty hairless.  He just wouldn’t make a good rug for the cave!  Or, I could kill him, but he would make a terrible wall mount.  I mean, he is ugly and look at the size of those ears!

Regardless, I survived!  Yay!  Everyone is happy because they get to read all these Hillbilly posts!  You are happy aren’t you?  Honey, are you happy?  Is anyone happy?  Hello? Anyone out there? Well, I'm happy anyway! 
Oh!  The picture of the bear – it even looked large in the postage stamp pictures!

From the Hillbilly’s Corner!

Yes, Honey, I'm happy. If that bear had mauled My Hillbilly...well, he wouldn't be my hillbilly at all!