Have you ever been anxious and then did something stupid that fed your anxieties even more? Have you ever done EXACTLY the wrong thing? Boy, I did.

When my family went camping in Yellowstone National Park, we were anxious about bears. Grizzlies had harmed other campers that summer, and we did not want to experience bears that way.

Almost all of the other campers in the Park were in hard-sided RVs. And there we were with our tent. Hmm.

So I gave strict instructions to my family about how we should handle food in our campsite: No food in the tent, no food left outside, no food smells on us or our stuff: we’d live by the book in bear country.

They got it. We were oh-so-careful during supper.

Then, while cleaning up afterwards, I tripped and — wait for it — sloshed a whole mess of chicken soup on the ground right next to our tent. OohhhNooo! I had soaked the ground with chicken broth, inches from where we’d be sleeping. “Dad, the bears!!!” I was so annoyed at myself, and my children were so terrified.


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We decided after supper to walk around the campground a bit, so we headed up the road. Every campsite had a trailer, truck, lawn chairs, folks enjoying the nice evening. After going just a little ways up our road, I started to smell something….chicken…fried chicken. Fried chicken?!?

A guy had a propane deep fryer out by his RV and he was cooking up a big batch of chicken. Everybody within 100 yards of his campsite, and every bear within probably three miles, was smelling that chicken. It was a strong smell, a very good smell.

Whew! We were saved! There wouldn’t be any bears interested in my chicken soup that night!

Sure enough, in the wee hours that night, I heard a car alarm go off, and keep going off, for a long time. Did the fried chicken guy hit the panic button on his key fob when a bear showed up? Did a bear try to break into his truck? Or had some other random camper gotten up for something and accidentally tripped his alarm?

Personally, I think a bear was making a late night chicken run.

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