"Don't forget your bear mace!" their dinner host called after them. Oh boy.
Husby and Wifey were in Montana, official "bear" country (pronounced: "bar") and wifey was near having a heart attack. "Large toothy animals that eat you" are on the top of her "Avoid Like the Plague" list. Have you ever seen a grizzly bear?
You might as well kiss your Husby goodbye if you were charged by one of those bad boys.
"Yea, everytime I've been in Glacier I've seen a bear" says Husby on the drive in. "Last time, I was just walking down the trail and a huge grizzly stood up on it's hind paws down hill from me and bellowed...I just started talking real deep and it backed off. The rule of thumb is, 'Grizzly - play dead, black bear- fight back' " Wifey winces and grips her mace more tightly.
So here they are, in the wilds of Glacier National Park, pulling up to the entrance booth.
"Do you guys have bear mace??" Asked the foreboding attendant. "We were about to close the upper hike trails, there have been so many bear sightings. They're just more prolific this year and because of the berry shortage, they have been more willing to approach people for food"
:: Insert wifey groans and butterflies start an audible din in her stomach ::
Imagine yourself on a desolate trail, trying to talk loudly so that the bears around the next corner scatter before you reach them. If Bears could smell fear, they'd have smelled her 10 miles away.
They set on the trail, first 6 miles safe and sound. En route to the second destination, they site a black bear in the field, and reality sets in. Bears do live here. "I would be a perfect snack to a bear ready for hybernation!" eeeeep.
They start on the final 10 mile hike, Wifey praying all the way, scared to turn around and only relaxed if they're in the wide open.
Several hours later, they make it back to the car and rest their weary feet. As they pull out of the parking lot a grizzly just strolls along the bank beside them. NOT cool. Good bye grizzly, hello gas pedal.
Around the next bend a crowd has gathered and Husby pulls over to join the commotion. Husby and Wifey watch as a giant grizzly climbs the hill bank, raising it's head to say hello. The bear "paparazzi" goes wild, clicking hundreds of images. Soon the photographers hit the road and our couple does the same.
Turning homeward, Wifey is flooded with relief and happiness. She reaches over to kiss his cheek, (and his neck, and his ear...) truly glad Husby pushed her to keep going. "Maybe next year I won't be scared at all?" she muses.
I doubt it.
They drive into the night, under a full moon and Montana stars.