Protected by nothing but our nylon tent, we hoped the bear would find
his gourmet meal totally satisfying. Inside our tent we heard him
slamming around pots and pans. After what seemed way too long, the
bear finally climbed out of the truck and walked right between the
truck and our tent. We sat motionless and quiet. After a few minutes,
I got brave and stuck my head out of the tent to see if the bear was
still around. Apparently he had taken a rest break because I watched
him approach the truck one more time. This time he was too full to
jump. Instead, he unlatched the tailgate and hopped back in the truck
for his second course. Using our backpacks for a seat, he proceeded to
finish his meal. Finally, when he lumbered down from the truck, he
stopped and took a long drink of water from the soaking bean pan. When
he walked away from our campsite, he was one happy fellow.
I was still a bit apprehensive, but I wasn’t going to wait for him to
come back for thirds. I crawled out of the tent and over to the cab of
the truck. I quickly opened the door and climbed inside. The bear was
nowhere to be seen. I started up the truck, and drove it down the
road. If the bear came back this time, at least he wouldn’t disturb
our sleep again.
In the morning we surveyed the damage. It was considerable. The bear
broke the latch on the tailgate. There was garbage (that’s what’s left
after dinner, right?) all over the bed of the truck. The remnants of
bear smell were putrefying. And, to add insult to injury, the bear had
left his saliva all over our backpacks. It was not a pretty sight. It
took the whole morning to clean up.
On the bright side, it was another nice day. The highway to Jasper was
constructed through a natural north/south pass cutting through the Canadian Rockies. Both sides of the highway featured spectacular views of the
11,000 to 12,000-foot mountains. This was one of the most beautiful
highways I had ever traveled, but it would have been even nicer if I were
riding my bicycle (no offense Old Smoke).
In Jasper (more a city; less a tourist town than Banff) we restocked
groceries and then went to a park for a picnic. The next day we were
off to Prince George, the “gateway to the real north.” As soon as we
left Jasper, the mountains shrunk to large foothills.
In Prince George, after getting a campsite and taking a shower,
we immediately went for pizza and beer. Not only was our meal
great, but the guitar player who was there to serenade us, was
great too. The next day we extended our R&R by taking in a movie.
The benefit concert, Bangladesh, was playing in the theaters;
so, once inside, we got to see up on the screen, George, Bob, Eric
and a whole bunch of other great musicians. Nice!