Bears, Birthdays And Bad Luck…

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I recently had a birthday and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Not just because I’d be another year older, but for the past three years I’ve had some awful experiences on my birthday.

On my birthday, in 2004, my youngest son was joking around with a friend, tossing a metal toy of some sort back and forth. The friend tossed it just a little too hard and it split my son’s forehead open. We spent the next several hours sitting in the hospital emergency room and he ended up getting several stitches.

My birthday 2005, my ex and I decided to go hiking and camping up at Limekiln Lake in the Adirondack region. All went well. We hiked for several hours and returned to the campsite. We started a fire, ate and then went to sleep in our tent. At exactly midnight on my birthday we heard a thundering noise just a few feet away from out tent. I thought maybe it was several drunk campgoers running through neighboring campsites. My ex stuck his head out of the tent to yell at them, but instantly realized what the noise was. A black bear had broken a window in the truck, grabbed a bag of Doritos and was sitting by the fireplace eating it. I’m dead serious. I panicked, ran out of the tent, jumped through the window, not knowing it had been broken, and cut my legs and hands on broken glass. It was painfully apparent that both my ex and I made two majorly dumb camping 101 mistakes. Number one, don’t leave food in your vehicle. Bears often equate vehicles with food and have an incredible sense of smell. Number 2, don’t panic and run. If that bear hadn’t been so busy eating our Doritos it  could have easily outrun me and mauled me to death.

Last year, on my birthday 2006, once again my ex and I went to the Adirondack region to hike. On the last leg of our hike, not far from the end of the trail, was a black bear right in the middle of the trail. Once again, I panicked, turned and ran. You can’t outrun a bear. And bears will chase you, especially if it’s a female with cubs. Fortunately, the bear was more scared of me than I was of it (as difficult as that is to believe) and it took off. I probably scared the poor thing with my terrified screams.

This past birthday, I decided to stay home. I didn’t go camping or hiking. My wonderful daughter took me out to eat, we went shopping and had a great time. “They” say that things happen in three’s and maybe it’s true. So hopefully my string of birthday bad luck is over for good.

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