I wish we had photos to prove it wasn’t our imagination. It was real, though, because a little boy saw it, too.
We were staying in northern Michigan (up the middle finger, just slightly below the Mackinac Bridge), at Bambi Lake Retreat and Conference Center in Roscommon, Michigan. It’s a remote campground in a quiet and peaceful wooded area. There were only three campers in the campground early Sunday afternoon.
I was inside the motorhome dusting the dashboard of the humongous front window. There was a popup camper with kids ranging in ages of four to eight and the mother was out cooking a late breakfast. What I thought was a very large black dog entered the campground and skirted the family camper. As the animal loped closer–about six feet behind the mother frying bacon and about twenty feet in front of our window, I realized it wasn’t dog at all–it was an adolescent bear. Without a thought to my camera, I ran outside in my bare feet to alert Mike, who was working outside on the truck.
I heard an excited little voice outside, “Look at the bear, Mommy. He’s running.” The four-year-old neighbor was standing pointing with wide, excited eyes.
The mom said, “Mmm Hmm. We love bears.” She continued making their breakfast without a glance.
I ran to the rear of the motorhome to Mike as the bear continued on his path through the campground directly into the woods. He was older than a cub, but still not quite full grown. His fur and loose skin–he’d not quite grown into it–wobbled up and down as he ran at a leisurely rate (sort of like the opening scene of Baywatch from back in the day). He didn’t even glance our way as he blazed his own trail and disappeared in the dense woods beyond. Mike and I couldn’t stop grinning and then realized neither of us captured it on film.
I started back into the motorhome riding on a high of seeing the bear. The mother of the brood in the popup was still cooking.
“Did you see it?” I asked her.
“See what?” She was still concentrating on cooking on the open fire.
She looked at me with an incredulous expression and said, “It was real?”
“Yes, it ran directly behind you as you were cooking.”
“It was that close? My son said he saw a bear, but I thought it was his active imagination.”
We didn’t capture the beautiful black bear on camera, but we did try to find tracks we could photograph for a great memory. They weren’t the best in the loose sand, but it was enough for us as proof it wasn’t our imagination (or the little boy’s across the way).
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