Every time I remember the Sticky Buns A Bear story, I smile then laugh our loud. It’s a story repeated many times over when our family would gather.
Our family would always go on some form of a vacation in the summer. Our mode of travel and lodging was always by car and tent camping. We had this huge tent that had two rooms and a pup-tent for my brothers. The new station wagon worked well for our family and could hold the five of us comfortably enough. In May, just before school would close for summer break, we would start to make plans for some kind of trip. We would agree on a destination and then we would make a list of what we would need:
- Our large tent, cots, sleeping bags and pillows.
- My Dad’s homemade folding camp kitchen and food.
- Large cooler and picnic basket Our Coleman stove and lanterns.
- Mosquito and bug spray.
- Clothes for wherever we were going.
- Toys and Games for the car and our camp setup.
And on it would go.
Sticky Buns A Bear
One summer it was decided that we would drive and go camping across the country to visit all our aunts, uncles, and numerous cousins, some we had never met. The trip would take most of the summer, and Dad estimated we would be gone for around eight weeks. It was a large undertaking for our family. Dad had just bought a new red & white Dodge station wagon,
perfect for our trip. The itinerary included many of the national parks we had read about in school. It was all very exciting, and my brothers and I could hardly wait. Letters were written, calls were made to various relatives, and reservation were made for the different campgrounds. We were set.
So, we were off. We had an incredible adventure in the first few weeks and had gotten into a groove with setting up and tearing done our campsite at each location. Everyone had a job, and we were into the whole experience. To make sure we always had enough food, just before we stopped at our new campsite, Mom would find a local market and buy what we needed. It was all such a great adventure for our family. The one park we were the most excited about going to was Yellowstone Park, and to see old faithful, the morning glory pools and the devil’s caldron.
The day had come when we would be arriving at Yellowstone Park. We had found a great market just outside of the park, and we stocked up for the 5 days we would be visiting. My Mom loved “Sticky Buns” (akin to pecan cinnamon rolls). To be fair so did we. It was a real treat when we found them. We would have them for dessert that night or the next morning for breakfast.
As we were entering the park, there were signs saying; “DON’T FEED THE BEARS.” The funny thing was we saw all kinds of families who were stopping to feed the Bears through their car windows. We begged our parents to allow us to do the same, but they were having none of that. We needed to get to our campsite.
It was a great campsite with a small creek running through it. We went into action and set up our area in no time. Mom prepared lunch and we discussed our plans for visiting the different sites. After we had cleaned up after lunch, Mom said she wanted to take a nap, and we should go without her to the lodge that wasn’t far from where we were camping. So, off we went to visit the Yellowstone Park Lodge AND the Gift Shop, woo, hoo!!! It was an enjoyable walk, and we did as normal kids do. We raced along the path and made as much noise as kids do and hoping to see a bear. But no bear appeared. No surprise, with all the racket we were making, calling for the Bears to come out.
The lodge was amazing. The gift shop inside was designed to part money from any kid who entered. I still have the little leather purse that was hand tooled with a western motif. We could have stayed at the gift shop for the rest of the day.
The campground was quiet, and no one else was around. Mom was enjoying the quiet time, dosing off and on. She thought she had heard us come back, but Mom was so enjoying that lazy half-sleep state and just the peace of it all, so she didn’t get up. She could hear Dad rummaging around in the picnic basket and the cooler. She could see his shadow against the closed canvas entrance flaps of the tent. Mom called out to Dad telling him to stay out the food until dinner; he continued. She thought he either hadn’t heard her or was ignoring her. Mom was annoyed and raised her voice telling him again to get out of the food, all to no avail. She laid there for a bit, still a bit groggy from her nap. Mom could now hear Dad eating something from the basket. Mom, still a bit groggy and not fully awake, was yelling at Dad to “GET OUT OF THE FOOD.” She got up from the cot, barefoot and walked to the entrance flaps of the tent. She yelled out to Dad, but he was not paying any attention to her. She was MAD. She opened the flaps of the tent prepared to take him to task.
Then she looked squarely into the eyes of a HUGE Brown Bear sitting on our picnic table eating our “Sticky Buns”. Her first thought was “You’re not Dad.”. Then realization seeped into her still foggy brain, and she froze. They stared at each other for what must have seemed like an hour before Mom made her move. She slowly grabbed her shoes, sidled out of the tent while the Bear was watching her, continuing to eat intently. Then she took off at the speed of light, or at least, she thought it felt that way yelling “BEAR, BEAR, BEAR.”
We were headed back with our bootie in hand. We were very excited about our purchases and looked forward to sharing them with Mom. In the distance, we could see someone running on the path waving their shoes in the air calling; “BEAR, BEAR, BEAR.” It took us a bit to realize that it was Mom. The sight of her was a bit mesmerizing. We couldn’t help it; we started to laugh. Dad was even chuckling a little. Mom finally reached us out of breath, frazzled hair, barefoot, holding her shoe in her hands as if her life depended on it and irritated that we found this at all funny. She was truly a sight behold. When she was able to catch her breath and calmed a bit, she told us her tale and how she had come to greet us in such a manner, reminding us not to laugh. We still did.
We were able to hunt down a ranger who helped us extract the bear from our campsite. He was still there eating our “Sticky Buns”. For us, the kids, it was a great adventure. We got to see a bear up close and face to face, and he was HUGE.
Then we received a long lecture from the range about what not to have (like “Sticky Buns”) easily available in our camp site for the Bears to go after as well as how and where to store our food. The ranger went into great length regarding the dangers of not heeding this information. All of that information was in the brochures the park rangers had given us when we had arrived but of course, that had gone unread. The rest of our stay at Yellowstone Park was all that we had hoped it would be. With that, we had a memory of Mom, the “Sticky Buns” and a Bear that would stay with us for many years after.
I always chuckle when I tell this Sticky Buns A Bear story. In fact, I usually can’t get through telling it without laughing.
All our life’s experience are precious. Times with our families are priceless, away from the smart phones, computers, readers, iPads and iPods. It is so important to take every opportunity to be together creating memories that can be shared with each other even after some of them are gone.
So here is my question. What are some of your memories, old or new, like my Sticky Buns A Bear, regarding a family vacation or event?
Life’s journey continues…