I love to camp. I love the outdoors, trees, and nature. And I love fires, but not in a pyromaniac kind of way, just the normal acceptable amount. Where I’m from we have deer and racoon that live in the woods. That’s what I’m used to.
So last summer, my brother-in-law invited us to go to a campground with him and his kids up in Michigan. Michigan has black bears. I love black bears…as in lodge decor, not the actual living thing.
The first night we camped, I crawled under the covers of our air mattress and tried to soak up as much body heat from my husband as possible. Sometime after I fell asleep, I awoke to the sound of sirens. Like, war is coming…seek shelter, kind of sirens. It was an eerie sound and I wasn’t sure what it was all about.
Right before I drifted back to sleep, I heard it. Just outside of our tent, a deep exhale. I sat up, still a little creeped out about the sirens of hell, and listened. Again, an exhale…just like on National Geographic when you see a bear in the wild.
My adrenaline started pumping as I shook my husband awake. Probably that had been what the sirens were about. Maybe it was a warning that a bear was in the area.
My husband heard it too. I couldn’t remember what you’re supposed to do when you encounter a bear. One species you play dead, the other you make loud noises and I wasn’t sure which was which. The loud grunting was just on the other side of our nylon tent, and I could visualize the bear tearing through the fabric and feasting on my family. Not me, because I would run…but everyone else was going to be toast…I just knew it.
In a panic and barely able to breathe, I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyes, and I thought I might throw up. I looked at the kids, sleeping peacefully through this living nightmare, and wondered if I could get them into the car parked outside without setting the bear into attack mode.
I pretty much wrapped myself around my husband and whispered something like “What the f*** are we going to do? There’s a bear out there!”
He shook his head “no” and held his finger up to shush me while he listened to the grunting and breathing outside of the tent. “That’s not a bear.” He whispered and proceeded to explain why it couldn’t be a bear. It was a logical explanation, but in my irrational state all I could think was “Whatever, your brother brought us here to die, and this is the worst trip ever.”
My husband guessed maybe it was some kind of dying raccoon or something. He went to unzip the window and I smacked his arm. I was all “What are you doing, trying to get us all killed?” He wanted to see what it was.
I’ve never truly feared for my life or felt the kind of intense panic that I felt as my husband peeked out the tent window. My spit was so thick I couldn’t swallow, my ears were ringing, my limbs went numb and my heart was beating so hard I could see it thumping against my bones. I thought about all the things I still needed to accomplish in my life…which is pretty much everything as so far I’ve accomplished nothing.
My husband turned to me, having figured out what kind of creature was outside of our tent, grunting and growling. Apparently, the man in the tent next to us had sleep apnea.
Yeah, I’m not really sure why people say I’m over-dramatic.