Made a new friend in Hope; I knocked on the door of Tahneta Stroh to ask a question about her junk-yard neighbor.
She was so helpful, genuine and I felt comfortable enough to dump my growing fear of bears on her doorstep. “Oh my God, I’ve been here forever and haven’t seen one bear,” she said with a matter-of-fact eye roll as she proceeded to curse the bears for knocking over her garbage cans.
Tahneta was the largely unrecognized authority on bears.
“Really hun, just make a bunch of noise – sing to yourself – or take one of my kids along with – they make so much noise you’ll NEVER see a bear.”
I gave her a hug. It made me feel better for the moment. Then, as I went to say goodbye to the folks at the Art Gallery, Tahneta marches up the walk.
“I couldn’t find any fruit, but here are a bunch of granola bars to help you along the way.”
So sweet, she was arming me with bear treats. (Sad her words of comfort were so short-lived with me.)
As I pedaled uphill to my church hotel, I glanced in my rear view mirror and sure enough – there was a mother moose and her calf crossing the road.
She was huge – similar to the NBA’s Shaquille O’Neal but that’s not even close to doing her justice. She looked prehistoric and was nothing but sheer mass.
I locked myself behind a thick wood door inside the church that night. I sat in the lobby, in the dark with my cold hamburger dinner and ate it. In silence – in front of a mirror like a parakeet.
The next day it would be Hope to Cooper Landing – about 45 miles and I was sure to be armed with my bear bell and spray.