Animal crackers

Whenever two or more tourists gather in Canada, they shall ask “Did you see a bear?” Bear sightings are the tourist holy grail, and a good bear-scare story out-grails everyone else.

Cutting to the chase… yes, we did see a bear in Canada. In fact, we saw four black bears, but it wasn’t a Sir Percival moment.

We were driving along the road from Pinchers Creek to Waterton National Park in southern Alberta, about 150m behind a big oil tanker double-rig. Suddenly we saw four bears bounding across the snow toward the road from the left – just ahead of the tanker. the tanker slammed on the brakes and hit his air horns. It didn’t stop the bears. Two of them dashed across the road in front of the hooting tanker as he slowed to a shuddering stop. The other two followed in seconds. The two adult bears and half-grown cubs lolloped into the bushes and disappeared before we could get the camera out and focussed.

We didn’t see any more bears, either in the distance or close up. In fact, we took the guide books’ advice and made lots of noise when hiking to avoid a close encounter.

Of course, there were plenty of mountain sheep, deer, elk, a solitary moose (at distance from the train window), beavers (mostly seen from the train swimming in their dams at dusk ) and we spotted a muskrat gathering nest material in the River Nith* at New Hamburg. Plus I snuck up within 5 ft of a very preoccupied groundhog before it noticed me. And there were the usual variety of variously hued squirrels.

*supposedly there’s a water monster in the Nith. I wonder if they call it “Nithy”.


2 Responses to “Animal crackers”

  1. 1 Erin O'Brien May 16, 2007 at 9:29 am

    Okay, let me get this straight:

    I have been accused of sniffing oven cleaner by a Nithy hunter whose blog is entitled “The Strange Adventures of Petunia Happenstance and her Chicken of Destiny?”

    Well then, good luck to you. Wear clean underwear, take your vitamins, and remember: a frown is a smile turned upside-down.


    Erin O’Brien
    High Priestess

  2. 2 microsoar May 16, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Erin: Thanks for the sage advice. I shall treasure it always and practice standing on my head at times of stress.

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