*** continued from previous post ***
All eyes of the family turned to me. I had their undivided attention. Had I known all it would take to win them to our side was the mention of wildlife it would have made the last 20 minutes much, much simpler. As a typical child of the 1970's, I'd watched many hours of "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom". If I had known this simple fact I would have lied through my teeth and reveled them with stories of my wilderness adventures based on my memory of the TV shows. True, my recollection was a bit spotty, a tad fuzzy, but I'm sure I could manage. I watched that damn show every Sunday night for years. Why? Because it was something that you had to endure to get to the "Wonderful World of Disney". Which was as close as we got in those days to kiddie-crack. Wild Kingdom was like penance.
Anyway, if pressed I would have regaled them with the tale of hunting the Great White Whale on the open seas, and how I had lost my leg to the demon-beast of the depths.
On second thought, that may have not been "Wild Kingdom". I think that was one of the Brady Bunch vacations. I'm old. I get confused sometimes. Deal with it.
Mark was the first to speak, "Saw a bear in the valley as you came up, did ya?"
His tone was a bit softer, a tad less confrontational. It was obvious that he had seen well over 2 million grizzlies in his life, and had hand-fed most of them so our encounter was - for lack of a better word - 'cute'.
"Yep," I said. "It was quite a trip. Especially the bears. Well and the moose. But the bear was a heck of a lot closer than the moose."
Carl, ever the life of the party, said "You know a bike hit a grizzly last week down on Highway 40. That was a mess."
Oh joy. We were now at the 'maiming and death on a motorcycle' part of the conversation. I decided to play it cool. Besides, there was that 'Highway 40' thingee again.
"Highway 40 ,” I said, “that's quite a ride up from Carnack. I don't know if I'd call it a 'highway' though."
Carl looked at me quizzically. "Carnack? No, that's on the other side."
What the hell?
"The other side?"
"Well yeah," he said, "it comes up from the south. Still gravel though."
I'd have to take a look at that. I wondered if this mythical road was an option for our departure. If it was less than the sheer cliff back to Carnack I wouldn't hesitate - grizzlies or not. I was dreading that steep, slippery, twisty trip back to civilization already. I'd half decided that it might be better just to feed ourselves to the bears and be done with it.
Or at least feed myself to a bear if it turned out there really was a different, and probably easier way up here. Just to escape the wrath of your mother.
*** the journey continues ***