Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bear Bells and Sound Advice From a Local

Made a new friend in Hope; I knocked on the door of Tahneta Stroh to ask a question about her junk-yard neighbor.

She was so helpful, genuine and I felt comfortable enough to dump my growing fear of bears on her doorstep. "Oh my God, I've been here forever and haven't seen one bear," she said with a matter-of-fact eye roll as she proceeded to curse the bears for knocking over her garbage cans.

Tahneta was the largely unrecognized authority on bears.

"Really hun, just make a bunch of noise - sing to yourself - or take one of my kids along with - they make so much noise you'll NEVER see a bear."

I gave her a hug. It made me feel better for the moment. Then, as I went to say goodbye to the folks at the Art Gallery, Tahneta marches up the walk.

"I couldn't find any fruit, but here are a bunch of granola bars to help you along the way." 

So sweet, she was arming me with bear treats. (Sad her words of comfort were so short-lived with me.)

As I pedaled uphill to my church hotel, I glanced in my rear view mirror and sure enough - there was a mother moose and her calf crossing the road.

She was huge - similar to the NBA's Shaquille O'Neal but that's not even close to doing her justice. She looked prehistoric and was nothing but sheer mass.

I locked myself behind a thick wood door inside the church that night. I sat in the lobby, in the dark with my cold hamburger dinner and ate it. In silence - in front of a mirror like a parakeet. 

The next day it would be Hope to Cooper Landing - about 45 miles and I was sure to be armed with my bear bell and spray.

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