Bear Proof Vehicle / by Susie Lubell

Sportsmobile

Mr. Rosen and I have found ourselves in some hairy situations over the years in our various adventures. While camping in Spain we woke up surrounded by giant cows who tried to steal our breakfast. We once took a ride from a trucker in Turkey who wouldn't let us out where we wanted and started driving east to the Syrian border. In India Mr. Rosen almost got in a fist fight with a bus driver who claimed we didn't have valid bus tickets and threatened to kick us off. Good times. But our near encounter with a family of bears on Thursday night trumps all.

I was in the tent trying to nurse the baby to sleep and our daughter was already out. Mr. Rosen was in the van singing good-night songs to our son who was sleeping in the pop up roof. I'm half listening to him sing and half dozing off myself when I hear some moaning off in the distance. In fact it's the same moaning I'd heard the night before but this time I am hearing it at pretty regular intervals and I'm hearing it in a lot of different directions. I know instinctively that it's a bear. Probably a whole family of bears. It's a friggin bear country jamboree by the sounds coming out of the forest. Mr. Rosen continues to sing and I'm strategizing about how to haul ass out of this tent with my infant and sleeping four-year-old in the event of a bear attack. Plus I can never remember if it's with bears that you're supposed to make a lot of noise and look big or if that's with lions and with bears you're supposed to play dead. I'm also thinking that this chubby baby would seem like a nice scooby snack to a black bear. I'm thinking a lot things. Like maybe we shouldn't have camped so close to that wild strawberry patch. Like why the hell I am in the tent and Mr. Rosen is in the bear proof vehicle.

Finally Mr. Rosen emerges from the van and I call him over.

Me: Can you hear that noise?
Him: It's probably a coyote. don't worry about it.
Me. No. Stop and listen for a second.
Pause
Him: Huh. I think that's a bear.
Me: No shit it's a fucking bear.
Pause
Him: Maybe more than one bear.
Me: Like Yogi and Boo Boo?
Him: Plus the Berenstein Bears.
Me: What should we do?
Him: I'll start by putting our food away.
Me: Good plan.

So for the next ten minutes I watch from the tent as Mr. Rosen runs back and forth to the van about thirty times putting away all of our food and garbage. Then he comes back to the tent and says he thinks we should all sleep in the van. The big kids will be in the back (the back seats fold down to a full bed), me and the baby in the pop-up and he'll find a spot in the hull somewhere. He then moves our sleeping son in his sleeping bag to the back of the van. Then my daughter from the tent to the van. Then he takes mine and the baby's sleeping bags and positions them in the pop-up. Next he places the baby up there and I climb in along side him. Finally he sets up his own little space and we all huddle together in our armored fortress.

The next morning, our ninth wedding anniversary, there are no signs of a bear visitation but a guy from the forest service confirms that the place is teeming with black bears. So we packed up and moved on to Bend, a beautiful city further south with no bears but teeming with exercise fanatics, which makes me and my postpartum body wish we were still in bear country.