Teddy Bear’s Picnic

OK, all you 60-somethings, sing along with me:

If you go out in the woods today,
You’d better not go alone.
It’s lovely out in the woods today,
But safer to stay at home.
For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic.
That reminds me of a story. It was 1988. My husband-to-be at the time, let’s call him Walt, and I had been courting for about two years. We had planned a camping trip to spend some alone time, and “make a plan”. You see, he had brought three daughters to this courtship and I had brought two. Although the kids had all been raised on The Brady Bunch, the idea of a joint venture was not sitting very well with the gang. They had all suffered through their parents’ previous divorces, and let’s just say putting the five of them together was not necessarily the match made in Heaven.
In addition to those issues, Walt’s company was about to make a big change which caused him to have to make a decision about his job, and that may have involved a move, which meant I might have to give up my career. So we were at a crossroads that seemed to have at least six exit routes, instead of the normal four.
While we were setting up camp, the park ranger came by and warned us that there was a mother bear and her cubs in the vicinity and to make sure and pack up all our food before we went to bed. We didn’t think much of it, until right about “gin and tonic time”, when we heard a rustling in the brush, and then some loud splashing behind us. Turning our heads, we were just in time to see a VERY LARGE BEAR stomping across the creek right towards us!
I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared! I ran and jumped into our car — a sturdy SUV. Walt, on the other hand, perhaps in an effort to impress his fiance, grabbed a frying pan and spoon and began to run around the camp site, banging it and yelling at the top of his lungs. “GO AWAY BEAR! GET OUTTA HERE!” The bear, of course, just assumed this was the call for dinner, and continued to charge up the embankment,directly towards our tent.
I screamed, hysterically, “WALT, GET IN THE CAR! PLEASE, GET IN THE CAR!!” Thankfully, he recognized the fact that the bear was not at all intimidated by his admittedly manly actions, and he jumped into the car, still banging the frying pan, which I grabbed from him and threw out the door and slammed it shut.
We watched as the bear lumbered over to our picnic table and started sniffing around. She appeared to not care much for gin (which was a true blessing later), but WOW, did she like the salmon mousse spread that I had placed on an attractive dish with crackers — I swear, she turned and gave me a high-five, as she swallowed the entire repast in one big gulp. Next, she turned to the “indestructible” cooler, with the lock on it, and with one swipe of her giant paw, the lock went flying, and so did the lid. She spent about ten minutes devouring everything in the cooler while Walt and I sat in the car staring in disbelief, and praying that this would satisfy her appetite. Finally, she looked up, eyed the next campsite and trotted over to our neighbors’ cooler (they were not there at the time). With the same swatting maneuver, she removed the top of their cooler, and  lo and behold, she pulled out an entire string of sausages! Bear Heaven! We watched as she happily trotted through the campsites, past ours, across the creek and up into the trees, where I’m sure her hungry little cubs waited for their treats!
That night, as we huddled together, zipped up in our tent — all remnants of food locked inside the car — we peered at each other with flashlights under our chins. I whispered, “Honey, do you really want to stay another night?” He whispered back, “Not really.” And this is where it gets good: I said, “Well, why don’t we go into Carson tomorrow morning and get married, instead? I’m thinking it could be a long time before all five girls are in agreement with us. Why don’t we just elope?! Whatever you decide about your job, we can decide as a real team.”
We were married by a Methodist minister in the town of Carson the very next day, June 20, 1988. Not necessarily a Teddy Bear’s Picnic, but incredible journey – yes!
(Photos found on the web.)

About susansplace

Widowed in 2012, I am a mother and grandmother. Born in San Francisco, I now live in the town I grew up in: Mill Valley, California. I love nature photography. Just an amateur but that's OK! My goal: world peace. Got any ideas?
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11 Responses to Teddy Bear’s Picnic

  1. Charlotte Morse says:

    What a great story, Sue! One of the great memories you have (and lived to tell!) to treasure for the rest of your life!

  2. Jan says:

    LOVE this! What a great way to start a wonderful marriage.

  3. Lynn Toth says:

    Aaaahhh….that’s an awesome story! So romantic! :o) Our anniversary is June 21, so I’ll always remember you two and your Teddy Bear’s Picnic wedding when that date comes around.

  4. What a great story–funny, scary, and ends well without blood and stuff! I have news for you, though. The food in the car may have not stopped a hungry bear either. Crazy! I would not have slept in the tent!

  5. susansplace says:

    We were kids, and in love! What can I say? Ha!

  6. LOL I remember the poem and we had a similar experience with a bear, but I didn’t wait for the door to be open. I just flew though the open window! Great romantic story.

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