I’ve always loved the photographs by Ansel Adams, particularly those of Yosemite. So when, freshly married, we got the chance to go to California, I persuaded my wife to come with me to pay hommage to the great man, to visit Yosemite. It was a great trip for me, not so good for my wife….
I must admit, I hadn’t really explained to her that to keep costs down we would be staying on a campsite, high up in the Sierra, where it gets very cold, and there are lots of bears. Tuolumne Meadows. “BEWARE THE BEARS!” the signposts yelled, “Do not leave anything in the car! Particularly anything that has any smell – bears can rip open a car in 30 seconds.” All accompanied by graphic pictures of a bear destroying a car to gorge itself on a Mars bar.
We were in a borrowed car (from a best friend of my wife’s), a beautiful red Mustang, with a soft top roof. And boy, was it crammed full of sweet wrappers and potato chips. There was a half bottle of Snapple under the seat! It was a bear magnet, a perfumed honey pot for any hungry bear that might be wandering around. Mrs P was not amused, indeed was rather apprehensive.
That night, freezing in our tent, we listened out for the sounds of Freddy Kruger claws gashing their way through the beautiful white skinned soft top roof of the car. Every rustle and snuffle was assumed to be a ravenous bear (it was probably a hedgehog if truth be told…). Cold and tired in the morning, we realised that we, and the car, had survived! But the torture was not over. The campsite had no electricity, and communal showers. Little hot water – a tied flannel around the shower button to keep the water running. Not my wife’s cup of tea,… not at all.
As we drove down through the park I sensed a sigh of relief at my side. To heap indignity on it all, we drove past the most gorgeous hotel at the entrance to the park. “Why hadn’t we stayed there?” I was asked…. “Mmm, I thought it would be more fun under canvas…”
I learnt my lesson, and we have not been camping since. But I did get my photos, and I saw the Ansel Adams’ scenery. Awesome and majestic it is – just too many bears.