Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Last week I received one of those e-mails with amazing photos that tend to get forwarded about the net from person to person. Amazing in its own right, it also provided a photographic representation of one of my stories from the road that I had never had any pictures to illustrate. So, here I present that story, now with photos to illustrate it, and though not shots of my particular experience, good enough to make the point.

This is an excerpt from my book, Me & Tange…, part of the material excerpted directly from my road journal I kept at the time… we pick up at the point where I and the driver who had answered the call of my upraised thumb at the side of US 1 in California, had arrived at Yosemite National Park and had found a suitable site for making camp for the night…

"We crossed the Merced River, I, dipping my walking stick into the racing waters. (This is a 6-foot hickory staff, two sections, into which I carve a symbol representing the places I visit. It is topped with a four-sided head in Birdseye Maple, the design for the head from our beloved vice-president [of the National Wood Carvers Association], Tange. I also dip it ceremoniously into various rivers, thus…)

A third member, Mike, had joined our party, and we found a suitable space, ate supper, talked and prepared for sleep. This included tying our packs up in a tree. This is to prevent the bears from not so neatly opening the packs and eating what's inside.

We slept the sleep of the weary, to coin a phrase (here's your change). There's nothing quite like Mother Nature's bedroom- the mattress, firm rolling ground, would you like your feet up?; the walls, beautiful tall trees swaying in the refreshing breeze off the river; the ceiling, a black sky alive with shimmering diamonds of light… and the Moon! The rush of the river soon lulled us to sleep.

Klang! Bang! Kling! Rattle, rattle… what's going on? I awoke to find my partners up and banging away on the pots and pans.

“Are you guys nuts? It's 3 a.m.”

Then I followed their eyes… Directly over us, hanging in the tree, playing badminton with our packs, was a huge black mass of fur, otherwise known as a bear! Quickly I pulled out my flashlight and threateningly aimed it at the creature and turned it on. Unfortunately, it didn't appear as threatening to him as I thought it would.

But it had become bored with the packs and backed down the tree. On the ground the visitor began circling us, possibly trying to decide which of us was fit to eat. Apparently we didn't look or smell too good and the bear turned and moseyed off.

The rest of the night was uneventful.
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