Ker & The Bear

Set up: Gorgeous drive and a full day of hiking at the Craggs, Northwest of Pike’s Peak. By 2 pm, I found a campsite south of Lake George, Colo. Nothing like the Lake George in NY, except the name. I set up my tent, explored the neighborhood, cooked a great meal and cleaned up.

The story: The temperature had dipped into the 40s.so I had a heavy hoodie on. I took off my shoes and climbed into my sleeping bag, zipping it up for the full cocoon effect. My phone was on the tent floor to the right, and a really bright light was hanging overhead, which I turned off once I was settled. In short order, the sandman came to visit.

I was awakened by footsteps on the gravel outside my tent. I listened intently. About five inches from my head, I heard sniffing. I stayed as still as I could. About five seconds later, more sniffing. I assumed it was a bear, although it could have been a raccoon, a stray dog, a killer rabbit or Sasquatch. I thought of all my options. I was laying on my left side, and my phone was on the right. I had a really bright spotlight hanging over my head, but had no guarantee it would have any effect.

I grew confident, because I’m a pretty smart guy, and a bear has a brain about the size of a tennis ball.

I could use my bear spray, if I had any.

I could chop the violator with my ax. Oh, I didn’t have an ax.

I did have a claw hammer. In the car. I was screwed. But, hey, wait! I root for the Bruins!

I lay motionless, giving thanks to the zipper technology that was all then kept me from “it.” My heart beat furiously. I thought it might give out. I prayed, I thought about the friends I care about who may not know how dear they are. I carefully moved my hands up to the head opening on the sleeping bag. I wasn’t going to go without a fight.

After about five minutes I heard the sniffing again.

At this point, the bear, or Jehovah’s Witness, or whatever, was thinking, “I don’t want to eat this. Smells like fresh urine and feces.” And that may or may not have been the truth.

hungry bear
The Hungry Bear Restaurant in Woodland Park, not far from where I almost got eaten.

I waited nearly an hour, and then a made a dash for my car, about 30 yards away. By “dash,” I mean the zipper on my sleeping bag got stuck, I had to put my shoes on, I fumbled with the spotlight and tripped getting out of the tent. Nothing was out there.

Sleep wasn’t in the forecast either. I reclined the passenger seat and waited for daylight, more than four hours away. I’m going to have problems going forward. The bear in the Snuggle commercial now frightens the hell out of me. The Charmin bear family? Forget about it. I’m going to need bear-apy. I did buy some gummy bears to exercise my superiority over the species. But I may never go camping by myself again. This experience was terrifying.

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Author: The Atomic Kitchen

Kerry Gleason is a mad scientist-turned-food-writer who never quite learned the message, "Don't play with your food." Now, he's encouraging you to do the same. The Atomic Kitchen tries to explain the science behind cooking in poetic terms. "Cooking is poetry," he says, "with food instead of words. There is structure and rules, which can be stretched and broken. With The Atomic Kitchen, I'm exploring some of those rules to help readers become more creative cooks." Even before writing the press releases that made Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" campaign a worldwide phenomenon, he had won marginal prizes for recipe submissions and food articles. Since, he has worked with more than 100 restaurant owners, chefs and caterers to market their businesses. From 2003-2007, he originated and ran the Tuesday Night Supper Club, allowing participants to sample the finest cuisine in Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y. He's a past member of the National Association of Science Writers. The author of two feature-length screenplays, Mr. Gleason won the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival award for Best Screenplay in 2009 for NORTH STAR: THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. He has since written ANGELS & ENEMIES, a supernatural suspense novel, that features some of the most unusual food selections in literary history.

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