Travel, Camping, and Animals
1955 to 1985
In all our travel and camping trips animals have never caused us much trouble. A few times there have been some incidents that we especially remember.
Great Smokies National Park
One time in the late 1950's in the Great Smoky National Park we came upon a big black bear sitting on his haunches by the side of the road. Several cars had pulled up and stopped. Many children as well as adults had gotten out of their cars and walked up close to the bear to get pictures. It scared us to see how the parents were letting their young kids approach him even though he appeared tame enough. We wouldn't let our kids out of the car, but I opened my driver side door and stood beside it aiming the camera over the door. All of a sudden the bear stood up and "said" loudly, "Woof!" You should have seen how fast everyone scattered and jumped into cars. [Me too!]
The bear sat down again. His sides seemed to be shaking! No doubt he was chuckling to himself.
In Yellow Stone National Park Alberta and I and the three kids had just parked our small travel trailer on one of the concrete pads provided for trailers. We had settled down for the night but about midnight, I decided to go outside to the "john" located about 100 feet from our campsite. Still half asleep I stumbled on toward the facility. All at once I looked up to see a black bear coming toward me. We saw each other at about the same time, and were equally startled. Quick as a wink we both took the same action. I whirled around and jumped into the trailer. He turned just as suddenly and headed into the woods.
Alberta said to me, "That was a quick trip."
"Yes", I said, "It was!"
Lake Placid, New York
In the late 1960's Alberta and I had pitched our tent in South Meadows preparing to climb some of the mountains in the High Peaks area of the Adirondack Mountains.
It was our practice not to leave food in the tent at night. That night we set our gallon thermos jug of water outside the tent door and placed our tin, drinking cup upside down on top of it.
During the night we heard the tin cup knocked off the jug. We weren't too anxious to investigate so after a while since there were no further sounds we went back to sleep. In the morning we found bear tracks near the front of the tent and big muddy paw smears on the car windows. In looking for food the bear didn't relish us, but tried to see what might be in the car. That's where the food was.
Somewhere in arkansas
This time Alberta and I were spending a week touring Arkansas and Missouri. We spent a few days in Missouri and went on to explore Arkansas. We found out that a lot of rice was grown in the eastern part around Stuttgart, a surprise to us! And we had always pictured rice fields as the National Geographic Magazine pictured Chinese peasants wading in water planting rice plants. We didn't see any planting but we did see combines harvesting rice similar to the grain harvests in the Western plains.
Near Murfreesboro on the other side of the state we spent a day looking for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park. We of coursse expected we would make our fortunes, but, sadly, we didn't.
One night we pitched our tent in a grassy meadow in a state park campground It being early in the season [April] and in the middle of the week, it was empty of campers. We had the place all to ourselves. It was a beautiful, clean campsite, the lush green grass of spring all around us.
Our tent was located not far from the wash rooms and a yard light on the upper corner of the building shone brightly on our tent.
In the middle of the night we were awakened by the sound of muffled footsteps approaching. The sound stopped nearby and a big black shadow covered the whole side of the tent blocking out the light from the wash rooms.
We had not even given it a thought that Arkansas might be bear country, especially since we were not up in the mountains. We lay still in our sleeping bags, listening. All at once we heard a familiar sound--that of grass being pulled up.
I unzipped the tent flat and chased away the cow that had come over to investigate the tent. It was "open range" in the park.
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Alberta and I arrived at Carlsbad Caverns in mid afternoon and parked the station wagon in a site fairly close to the bathroom facility. The campgrounds were quite full, mostly families with kids.
The weather was hot and dry, so we decided not to put up the tent and would just spread our sleeping bags out on the ground behind the station wagon. Then we joined a group taking a guided tour through the caverns. It was a big and interesting cavern and we enjoyed the trip a lot. It reminded us of a time when the kids were with us and we toured Mammoth Cave in the East.
Returning from the cave tour we ate some supper and returned to the entrance. At dusk every night thousands of bats fly from the cave's depths to catch flying insects. An interesting sight, huge flocks of the flying mammals swirling around in the sky, knowing they were destroying tons of mosquitoes and other annoying insects.
It was dark when we returned to the campsite and we walked over to the bathrooms before getting out the sleeping bags. All at once we heard one of the young kids ask," Mamma, what are those things there on the ground?"
We also looked down and saw that the ground was covered with scorpions! The place was alive with them. What scared us the most were the number of children heading for the "john" many of them with bare feet. Parents gathered around picking up their children or warning them to be careful where they walked.
For some unexplained whim we decided not to sleep on the ground. We rolled out our sleeping bags in the back of the station wagon and crawled in for the night.
Sequoia National Park
California June 23, 1983
Alberta and I toured the park marveling at the size of the trees. The "General Sherman" tree was really impressive. It was June and supposed to be summer but there was still snow along the roads. Of course it was about 7,000 feet in elevation. We walked to the top of Moro Rock for a nice view, and returned to park headquarters to pick out a campsite. First we stopped at a water fountain on the headquarters' lawn. We each drank and as we turned around a rattlesnake slithered across in front of us. It was the first rattler we had ever seen in the wild in all our travels around the country.
We drove around the campgrounds looking for a suitable site for our tent, which was still packed on the top of the little 1982 Ford Escort. The sites were not very inviting. They were pretty well hidden in tall weeds apparently never having been mowed. Perhaps seeing the snake colored our evaluation of the tent sites.
We decided to drive on and about 8 p.m. we found a motel near Fresno and stayed the night.
Somewhere in Pennsylvania
The Early 1970's
Alberta and I with our small mountain tent set up camp in a Pennsylvania state campground in the mountains. There were a few other campers staying there, enjoying the cool air and wild country. Sometime in the night we were awakened by a noise outside the tent. We didn't hear anything more so we inched our way up to the nylon screen that was zipped up at the front of the tent. We didn't see anything and I pressed my nose up against the screen trying to see in the darkness.
At that moment I realized there was another nose pressed against the screen from the outside. There we were nose to nose with a curious raccoon. Apparently he had been finding "slim pickings" in the camp garbage cans, for although he was large he seemed to be thin and scruffy looking. Seeing that we had no food for him he went on about his business and we went back to sleep.
Charles E. Page 2004