Oh, d-d-d-dear…

I love camping.  I love being out in the middle of nowhere, sitting around a campfire, drinking entirely too much around a large fire hazard, and being a general bonehead, all the while sleeping in a paper-thin sleeping “bag” praying to God or whoever’s up there that your fingers don’t freeze and break right the fuck off.

So it is with great displeasure that I must announce my retirement from camping.  Perhaps this will be a Favre-esque retirement just due to the incidents surrounding this weekend, but I think I need a break from all this lack-of-suburbia.  Let me explain…

Timestamp: 8:30AM Friday August 1 2008

All I’m thinking about is camping.  I’ve packed my car, I’ve got all my groceries, and I’m itching to get through work to get on the road, and start heading northwest-ish to Sundre.  All I need to do is make it through 8 hours of work, and I’m golden.  What to eat for breakfast?…

Timestamp: 4:30PM Friday August 1 2008

The buzzer (in my head) sounds, and I’m outta here!  Let me call Rylan and find out where he’s at so we can get on the road!  …  “Oh, you’re just getting off work?”  …  “And you haven’t packed?” …  “Ok, well yeah, I’ll just go home and chill for a bit – call me when Suzie, Shin and Lisa are with you and you’re all ready to go.”  …  “Sweet, talk to you soon!”

Timestamp: 5:30PM Friday August 1 2008

Hmmmm…. I stil haven’t heard from Rylan.  I think I should call him to see what his status is.  … “You’re just leaving work now?  Goddammit.  Ok, yeah I’ll wait for you.”  …  “Yeah dude, but hurry.”

Timestamp: 6:00PM Friday August 1 2008

Ok, screw this.  I want to be setting up my tent before it’s dark.  “Hey Rylan, I’m gonna head out right now. See ya out there!”

Timestamp: 7:30PM Friday August 1 2008

I pull up to the site and walk over to the guys before I start lugging anything over to scope out the site.  When I walk over I see an old dude who I assume is the caretaker of the campground talking to everyone else.  At this point I realize he’s asking everyone to pay for the night, which would be fine, except every other time we’ve come here, we’ve just paid at the end of the weekend.  We ask him if it’s cool if we just hit up the ATM tomorrow, since town is about 20 minutes away and 99% of us are drunk.  (No, I wasn’t but I didn’t have room in my car to drive everybody back in, so I just joined the consensus.)  “No problem,” he says.  We continue chatting, I start getting my tent and everything set up, and all is hunky dory.

Timestamp: 8:30PM Friday August 1 2008

We’re sitting around the fire roasting hot dogs when all of a sudden 8 or 9 guys with big sticks, a big fucking dog, and a fucking shotgun walk up to our site with a purpose.  This purpose, we would soon discover, would be to possibly kill us.  Wait a second, there’s Caretaker Dude (CD, from here on out) with them…. What the fuck is going on here?

“ARE WE GOING TO HAVE A PROBLEM?!?” asks the dude with the fucking shotgun.

Things start to smell bad, as all 9 of us collectively shit ourselves. “Uhhhhhhh,” is the most any of us can muster at this point.  We’re petrified of this dude – he’s about twice as big as anyone in our group, not to mention that 5 of the 9 of us work in the IT industry.

“I ASKED YOU, ARE WE GOING TO HAVE A PROBLEM?!?” he repeats.

At this point, our hearts are starting to pump again and our brains get enough oxygen to question his intent here.

“IF WE’RE GONNA HAVE A PROBLEM HERE, I’LL PUT A SLUG IN YOUR DOG’S HEAD!!!”

We finally are able to get it out of him that CD had left our site, only to radio back to his buddies that work for the campground that he was going to have a problem.  Apparently in his drunk-as-fuck state, he misinterpreted “We’ll get cash out of the ATM first thing tomorrow” as “WE’RE GOING TO KILL YOU WITH MACHETES (yes, fucking machetes) IF YOU TRY AND MAKE US PAY.”

Now, let’s clear something up here.  Yes, 2 of the members of our group are Chinese.  Yes, we had some dance music on when the dude was originally here.  But there is no fucking way that we could have possibly been misunderstood so terribly.

At any rate, after a bunch of negotiating with the dude carrying the shotgun, we were able to get him to stop waving it around and threatening us.  We explain the situation and he agrees to allow us to pay in the morning.

They leave.

We all do our best not to cry visibly.

Timestamp: 2:30AM Saturday August 2 2008

I head to bed.  I’ve been drinking all evening, my heart has finally slowed down to sub-sonic speeds and it’s fucking freezing out here directly next to the river.

Timestamp: 6:00AM Saturday August 2 2008

I am awoken from my slumber by Rylan running past my tent screaming incoherently.  As he is generally the most drunk of our group (not to mention the most annoying when he gets so drunk), I chalk it up to him probably having been up all night, and just being a dick at 6AM.

As I’m getting ready to open my tent flap to unleash some verbal fury on him, I hear Shin running past my tent.  What I hear was the following considering I’d just been woken up, and my brain hadn’t switched to Fully Comprehend Mode just yet: “blah blah blah blah cubs blah blah…” I think to myself, “What the fuck is he talking about……wait…..cubs?  Fuck, he doesn’t watch baseball…..OH FUCK!”

Thank fuck it was so cold last night that I slept in my clothes.  I hop out of my tent, and query everyone as to what is happening.  Mere moments later, I find myself regretting doing so.

Turns out that a mama bear and her 3 cubs somehow got separated into two groups: mama and one cub, and the two other cubs.  Those cubs decided that the best place to chillax would be in the tree next to our fucking campsite.

At this point, every National Geographic special I’d ever watched as a kid replayed through my mind at warp 9, as my heart sped right back up to match it.

FUCK FUCK FUCK WE’RE SO FUCKED IF MAMA COMES BACK LOOKING FOR HER CUBS!

After snapping a couple quick pictures, I run to Dave’s car where he and Ange are chilling out and turn the heat up to Surface-of-the-Sun and try and thaw myself out as it’s barely 4 degrees out.  We relax for an hour when everyone decides that we should head into town to get some food and decide whether or not our hearts will ever beat normally again.

Timestamp: 8:30AM Saturday August 2 2008

We get back to the campsite, everyone with their money ready to hand to the shotgun-wielding maniac, when we’re greeted by Fish and Wildlife.  And the RCMP.  Finally, the calvary has arrived.

We start walking to our site when we’re promptly informed that we’re going to need an escort of two rifle-wielding officers while we pack up.  Fine, fuck it.  At this point, I’ve seen enough guns for an entire lifetime, and I am definitely not stupid enough to argue with anyone carrying said weapons, so we all begin to take our tents down and pack up.

Timestamp: 9:45AM Saturday August 2 2008

Halfway through, we’re told that we have to immediately stop packing, and get 50 meters away.  The cubs are finaly out of the tree and they want to scare them away.  The path that they would be taking would lead them directly at us, so they figure we shouldn’t be there.  I would have to agree.

We get out of the way, leaving all of our stuff where ever we dropped it, run past the “safe line” and wait for 10 minutes.

Timestamp: 9:55AM Saturday August 2 2008

Apparently the cubs are scared of our stuff.  Now they need us to move all of our stuff out of the way as fast as possible.  Fuck, it’s 9:55AM, none of us have slept for more than 4 and a half hours and now you want us to pack up at lightspeed?  I JUST WANT MY MOMMY.

Timestamp: 10:18AM Saturday August 2 2008

In a manner than can be described only as miraculous, we get all of our stuff sufficiently out of the way and we finish packing the vehicles minutes later and get the hell on the road.  We bid farewall to our campground as it disappears behind a mountain in our rear view mirrors.  All of us racing home, dying to crawl into a warm bed and pretend the past 24 hours never happened.

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