In Ohio, the worst animal encounters you might have would be a smart little raccoon who learns to open your garbage, or a herd of deer that decimate your garden in one night. Here in the mountains of California, we recently had the excitement of meeting a wholly different kind of beast, one that we need to take a bit more seriously.
We knew that a bear had been nosing around the resort in the dark, getting into trash cans if we left even a single wrapper inside. We were all careful to clean out the rubbish completely at the end of each business day, and he seemed to stop coming around. That is, until dinnertime one night this week. Michelle, my co-worker, was sitting at the table facing the backyard and started stammering “uh, uh, UH!” and pointing outside. Luke, the resident Golden Lab, was standing stick still, with a look of complete surprise in his eyes. 50 feet away was a magnificent, huge brown bear, slowly lumbering through the yard and past all of our trailers. As we watched, he tried to open up the dumpster, moving on when he saw it was latched.
Jim, the resort owner, grabbed his shotgun loaded with blanks and we all ran outside. Jim fired off a blast and the bear went running, but unfortunately, he headed straight for the rental cabins up the hill. Several folks tore off after the giant, to warn the cabin customers. When they reached the rentals, the all they could see of the bear was his hiney, sticking out of a cabin window. He had ripped off the screen, reached in and pulled out the trash bag, and was trying to fish for more goodies. Luckily, the customers were not home, and another blast sent him scurrying.
Jim talked with all the renters, and made sure that they knew to keep their floor level windows latched when they are away, and to be diligent about putting trash into the locked dumpsters. We hoped the bear would be too scared to come back.
Alas, he has some serious cojones, and tried his luck a second time. The next night, just before we headed into the house for dinner, we heard little Luke barking his fool head off right outside our RV. The bear was back, about 100 feet above us on the wooded hillside. Amy, the daughter, ran out and encouraged Luke to chase the bear. Luke took off in hot pursuit, and the bear thankfully went in the opposite direction, away from the resort.
The King family (the resort owners) see the bear kind of like a big, naughty dog. They aren’t scared, per se, but they don’t want him to get used to coming around. Long time mountain residents, they insist that we just need to yell at him to get him to leave, and swear that we don’t need to be afraid. I, on the other hand, am a bit more concerned. I’m making JJ escort me to the bathroom if I need to use it near dusk, and we are ensuring that all our windows are locked before we leave for dinner. I also told Soupy that she is in charge when we leave, and she should hiss and wail if that bad bear tries to come in!
In another type of animal encounter, the bug situation is really starting to pick up. Last year in the San Bernardino mountains, we may have had about 5 mosquito bites each. This area is much more wet with all the melting snow, and insects abound. Sometimes, when you drive past a lake at night, millions of exploding bodies sound like rain on your windshield. Ick!
Even with the wild animal encounters, we love this area. It’s so nice to pop out the door and be on a trail just 5 minutes from our door. We still have several longer trails to explore that wind through our canyon, and many many more in the mountains to the north and south. We even have a little secret spot that overlooks the resort and Rock Creek Lake, where employees like to go for a quiet respite and soothing views. It’s an awesome place to live.