Babes In Bear Country

Grand Tetons via Wikipedia

2 days after Salt Lake City we arrived at our Campground at West Yellowstone. A small friendly little town outside the West entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We were totally charmed. We did in fact find the flattest way out of Ouray, Colorado and spent the days drive admiring beautiful scenery and mountain ranges from afar. Drove past the Grand Tetons. We were enthralled at the sight and grateful that we were not IN the Grand Tetons.  Or on them…or near them. I had previously toyed with the idea of going to the park in those mountains, but changed my mind after nearly soiling my pants in the San Juan Mountain passes.

That trip will have to wait until Mr. Husband is driving and I can cower in the passenger’s seat with my eyes closed if it gets to intense. I need to confess at this point that I am afraid of heights. I get dizzy on a step stool. Although it’s not as bad now after that fateful day in the mountains of Colorado. The benefit is that I feel much stronger and capable now than I did before the trip. I am retired woman traveler – hear me roar!!!

Grizzly Bear at Wildlife Center in Yellowstone

Meanwhile back at the camp. Mother and daughter innocents depart for the store/shower house/restroom complex. There we discover huge signs announcing THIS IS BEAR COUNTRY. Yea, yea, we know all about it. Wrong. We knew the basics, don’t keep food in your tents. Ha! Chained to the counter was a cooler that looked like Tyrannosaurus Rex chewed it as an after dinner mint. This was the real deal. And, oh my, there was more that we did not know.

  • Don’t keep snacks or chewing gum in your pockets, or elsewhere on your person. Bears can smell that even if the snacks are gone. That means candy necklaces are on the no-no list.
  • Don’t walk alone at night. Shuffle your feet, make noise.
  • Bring a flashlight. Why? So you can smack the bear on the nose with it? See the bear clearly as it charges you?
  • Don’t sleep in the clothes you cooked in. Woah, never thought of that. Not a problem for me, I change into jammies or sweats at night. But Momazelle usually crashes in her clothes and changes in the morning. None of that now!
  • Lock your food in the car or tie it up a tree. I opted for the car, wasn’t quite sure how to get our food up a tree.
  • Don’t use citronella bug spray or candles. Yikes, that was my go to mosquito repellent.
  • Don’t wear fruity smelling hair or body products. Holy cow. The thought of being a human fruit roll up is rather unappealing, to put it mildly.
  • Bears, when they have a choice, prefer blue tents. My tent is blue of course. We slept in a cabin.

Our Cabin in West Yellowstone

Mother saw a little stream outside the camp that she wanted to explore. She asked the cashier if it was safe to walk there at night. The kid looked at her and managed to keep a straight face. His reply was “jingle your car keys a lot, wear a bear bell, and keep bear spray in your hand.” I asked her if she meant daytime because she said night-time. She laughed and said “oh, I meant day time.” His response was “oh, during the day is no problem.”

I made the command decision that we were not going off-road hiking unescorted or even escorted. I do NOT want to add a confrontation with a grizzly bear to my list of lifetime achievements. Being the eldest of 6, I have an over developed protection instinct. I would have to get in between the bear and mother, so I would most likely end up being the entrée. She would be desert I suppose.

I booked 2 spots on a tour for us for the next day. Did not want to try driving through Yellowstone. There is too much to see. I was going for the ultimate tourist experience from the comfort and safety of a bus and a guide who knew what the hell he was doing. I respect Mother Nature in all her glory – and danger for idiots and city folk.

14 responses

  1. I definitely wouldn’t have thought about gum or half the other stuff on that list!

    1. Me neither. 🙂 The blue tent thing was disturbing. I think I’m going to ditch it soon.

      1. He must have been having you on. Why would a bear respond more strongly to the colour blue? Can bears even see in colour? OK, I looked it and apparently then CAN see blues and greens but not so much the reds and yellows… but what gets them going is the movement, not the colour.
        So maybe you can keep your tent, unless there’s a lot of flapping involved with it…

        I am very impressed with your fortitude throughout the ordeal… although… did you at least get to see a bear???

      2. A well set up tent shouldn’t flap! So they say….ha ha ha. Evidently they did a study on bears and assorted tent colors. They prefer blue when given a choice. Maybe is more noticable then green or brown? Who knows.

  2. The Grand Tetons look beautiful. Though like you I’ll stick to admiring them from a distance.

    Always grand when the game rangers put up some object, which has been destroyed by the local wildlife, for you to contemplate the dangers of a wildlife encounter. I don’t know which I rather not meet up close – a bear or a lion?

    1. A bear or a lion….I would hate to make that choice. I prefer to let them remain lord of their domain, and stay far away with the other humans who have good sense.

  3. You do realize your life rocks, right?

    1. Well I hadn’t thought of it from that angle before. But now that you mention it. Yea, it does 🙂

  4. I’m keeping well away from bear country! Kangaroos I can handle, bears not so much!

    1. Funny I think of crocodiles when thinking of your country, Oy. I got suckered by Hollywood and Crocodile Dundee 🙂 I’ve leaved in the U.S. for 56 years and the only bears I ever saw were in the zoo or a wildlife refuge….Thank GOD!

  5. I would have never guessed you had to do so much to avoid bears–or not do so much, as the case may be. Who would have ever known to avoid blue tents.

    Good to know you made it our alive. Yikes!


    1. I never knew either. I was all smug in the confidence that I knew it all in that one statement. “don’t bring food in your tent.” I always liked that rule as the oldest of 6 kids. If not we would have been awash in half eaten sandwiches, cheerios and squished bananas.

  6. We went there in June 2010 and it looks like you even stayed in the same campground as we did. That looks like our cabin. I recall finding a flier about bears left up at the laundry mat that said, “Do not spray bear repellent on yourself.” Apparently, what it is isn’t like mosquito repellent at all, but more like a super strong pepper spray so the reason for not spraying it on yourself is very clear. It also mentioned steering clear of mama bears and their cubs. It was something I later thought about when we came to a traffic jam driving through upper Yellowstone where a bunch of people were either slowing way down or actually pulling off and rushing across a meadow where there was a mother grizzley bear and her cubs eating berries. These people wanted close up pictures! And there came the rangers looking panic stricken, trying to get the people to back off. We didn’t stick around to see if any succeeded in winning the Darwin Award. Good to hear you for sure won’t! Keep safe, but enjoy! Yellowstone is a beautiful place!

    1. It is amazing how silly people can be. Hope you enjoyed Yellowstone. I sure did 🙂

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