This continues my bear obsession story. If you haven't read it first, click here.
A few months later I flew to DC to see some friends. Instead of seeing all the touristy stuff, we opted to spend the weekend in Shenandoah National Park. Not ten miles into the park, Katie screams "bears!". Her husband slams on the breaks and right in front of us, not 20 feet is a mamma black bear and 3 babies. I'm in the back seat with limited view. I rememberer saying, "I know this is a really dumb idea but I'm getting out of the car." My friends of course were begging me to stay, but out I go. I'm fumbling with my camera like it's the first time I've held one. By this time, the mamma is up on the short rock wall on the side of the road and one baby has already jumped over. She follows, and I'm still trying to work the alien contraption in my hand. Luckily, Katie snaps a great picture of the two babies with her iPhone. Stupidly, I slowly go towards the wall looking for them, not knowing how close they were to the other side. I half expected the mamma to pop up and slap me. She did not. The brush was so thick I could only see it rustling about 40 feet away. Once again, no pictures for me.
You might be wondering how I could write a blog about bears and only have crazy stories and no good pictures, save for Katie's. Well it's not over. Just two short weeks ago, Katie flew to Washington to visit. She had never been to Canada, so we decided to drive up to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway. Let's face it, we were on a hunt for more bears. We drove with not a single sighting, save for the bear warning signs on the highway and a giant stuffed bear in a Whistler gift shop. We decided to cut our losses and get back to Vancouver. On a whim on the road back, we see a turn off for Whistler Olympic Park.
Maybe a mile in, Katie screams, "Bear! Bear! Bear!" I slam on the breaks, turn down the music (since the best way to sight a bear is blast the music with the windows rolled down), and flip a bitch. We get to the spot and see nothing. We decided to proceed, and not a mile farther, see a SUV pulled over on the other side of the road. I slow down, hoping there is something good ahead and not just someone making a pit stop. What we see is incredible. A black bear munching on grass about twenty yards from the road, on Katie's side.
I pull up painfully slowly, heart racing. I can't see very well from my side of the car, and I can't let the opportunity pass. So what do I do? I get out of the car of course! This time, I was smart. I left it running, kept one foot in the door and leaned on the roof to steady myself. I was a little shaky from the adrenaline of seeing a bear not run away from me!
My wonderful ultra compact zoom lens, Canon EF 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 that I rented from Borrow Lenses, was perfect. It kept me at a safe distance (ok maybe not that safe, but at least there was a car between us) and was fast enough that my shaking didn't blur all my photos. We sat there for a good twenty minutes, just snapping shots and watching him graze and scratch himself. We finally had enough, and decided to drive a litter further down the road. Nothing panned out so we turned around and out fuzzy friend was still waiting for us. Once again, I pulled over to get a few more shots. This time I didn't get out of the car since he was closest to me, but it didn't keep me from trying to get Katie to get out of the car. She wouldn't do it. Probably not a good habit to get into like me. Someone has to keep their bear wits about them, and it will never be me.