The summer after my freshman year of college, my family drove up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, detouring to some of California’s beautiful parks along the way back home. By the time we got to Yosemite, my sister had a twisted ankle from slipping on some wet rocks and my dad was all scraped up from falling down a bluff (but he was okay—a bush caught him).
While driving around Yosemite, we were blown away by the grand and serene beauty of the park; the waterfalls, cliffs and trees were all stunning. As we drove along the winding roads, we noticed many signs on the road’s shoulder that pictured a red bear and read, “Speeding Kills Bears.” Apparently, each of these signs was placed where a bear had previously been hit by a car.
Behind one of these signs, we noticed a couple of cars had pulled over and people were standing on rocks and fallen trees while taking pictures. We got out of our van to investigate and saw two bears—a brown bear and a black bear—perusing through some bushes! We left the doors to the van open “just in case” and joined the other families in gawking and picture taking, making sure to talk in whispers and stay a safe hundred and fifty feet or so away.
Well, the brown bear did not think a hundred and fifty feet was far enough. It reared back on its hind legs, let out a roar, and charged at our small crowd. Time stopped, my heart jumped into my throat and I didn’t even feel my feet touch the ground as I sailed off towards our van. Out of the corner of my eye, I see my dad push through my mom and my limping sister, yelling, “Get out of my way!” as he also fled for the van. All four of us flew head first into the car and slammed the doors.
“Get out of my way!”
After seeing that the bear only intended to scare us away as a warning and not to tear us to shreds, we enjoyed some adrenaline-spiked laughter together and chuckled at my dad’s gentlemanly instinct (nowadays, he says that he was leading by example).
As someone who often thinks of the worst possible outcome for any situation, it is nice to have a story that truly could have ended badly, but didn’t. Instead, it ended hilariously and replaying it in my mind is a refreshing break from my frequent and anxiety fueled “what if” projections.
That being said, if I ever again see a couple of bears going about their business off the side of the road, I will stay in my car.
I randomly decided to move back to Saint Louis a few years ago after college, and I feel pretty confident about that decision considering it lead me to marry my high school sweetheart (Taylor) and also to me working at Central Presbyterian Church. Since college, I’ve somehow acquired four animals (dogs: Mustard & Dill, cats: Poe & Turnip). Taylor and I live with them in a very cozy, 792 square-foot house. I enjoy (most) change and like to make things look nice. Which is probably why I paint my front door, on average, twice a year. I’m excited to see where God takes my little Noah’s ark-esque family, and I’m sure the two things that will never change are my love of popcorn and the amount of fur on my clothes.
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