“Have you ever thought of building a still out here?” was the first question I asked my brother-in-law.
But it is a very nice cabin, built completely by hand, which is why I refer to my brother- and sister-in-law as Mr. and Mrs. Grizzly. We spent the day hiking around the 25-acre-mountain lot where Mr. Grizzly pointed out the decades-old bear trail and all of the rocks bears had recently turned over looking for grub. Or in this case, grub worms.
Later that night, Mr. Grizzly started grilling some sausage. “Supposedly bears can smell grilled hamburger meat from two miles away,” he noted.
I glanced all around. “And how far away can they smell grilled sausage?”
“That’s five miles.”
Luckily we didn't encounter any bears. That’s especially lucky because the only restroom was an outhouse necessarily situated some running distance from the cabin.
Last weekend, St. Pauli Girl and I returned by ourselves to New Mexico where we had rented a secluded cabin on the side of a mountain. A notice on the door of the cabin warned about high bear activity in the area. The flyer included a cute cartoon picture of a smiling bear wearing a chef's hat and grilling hamburgers, with a warning underneath that read: “The real bear will not look like this.”
Thank you! Yes, we were actually expecting him to wear a tie and green hat. If you want to warn people of danger, a cartoon may not be the best way to go. This would have been far more appropriate.
That notice, cute as it was, pretty much ruined my weekend as I spent the rest of the time worrying about bears. I wandered around the outside of the cabin looking for evidence of bears, just like Mr. Grizzly had taught me. Every time I entered a different room I plotted my escape, depending on where the bear might come from. And the fact the front door was a simple sliding glass door didn't make me feel any safer.
“Do you think we should close the curtains on the door?” I asked St. Pauli Girl.
“If the bear can see inside, he may be more likely to break in. I mean, what if he smells the coffee?”
I then pointed out if we wanted to use the hot tub on the deck, we should do it before we grill the steaks. “I bet they can smell prime rib eye from ten miles.”
We did make use of the hot tub, but I didn't enjoy it very much. I was on the lookout for bears.
“Will you stop it and just relax,” St. Pauli Girl said at one point, noticing I looked ready to bolt at the slightest rustling through the pines.
“I think the only thing worse than being eaten by a bear would be getting drowned by a bear,” I said. “Heck, if he tossed some carrots and onions in first, he could just turn this hot tub into a big stew pot.”
But once again we survived the weekend with no bear sightings. On the last day, we wandered around the property a bit. On the hill behind the cabin, I noticed a sign that marked the boundary of the national forest.
“Oh I'm so stupid,” I said slapping my forehead.
“This is a national forest, and the government is shut down. The bears are on furlough.”