Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On Bears and BBQ

A couple weeks ago a kind and astute reader e-mailed to inform me of a typo on my upcoming book tour website page. Although folks at That Bookstore in Blytheville, Arkansas ("The natural state") are expecting me on November 9, a slip of the finger had me traveling to Alaska ("North to the future"). You physics experts will immediately recognize that AK does not equal AR.

I’m excited about my AR stop since it’s not only at a WONDERFUL book store complete with a potbelly stove (I've been there before), but it's in BBQ country. I can almost taste the dry rub seasonings as I type. Mm-mm-mm. However, I also have to admit I’m sorry I'm not going to AK this tour because AK is beautiful. Stunningly beautiful. And WILD. My only AK visit thus far found me traveling from Anchorage to Wasilla to the Homer Spit to Valdez and back again.

But it was during a stay at the scenic Motherload Lodge in Hatcher Pass that I experienced THE most unusual traveling episode : a dead bear behind the bar. A Real Dead Bear. Let me clarify that was in AK with BEAR, not AR with BBQ. (And do you have ANY idea how many times I’m checking the handiwork of my swiftly typing fingers here? And how I once again had the STATES’ INITIALS BACKWARDS the first go-around! GHEESH!)

But back to the dead bear in AK. We checked into the Motherload Lodge, left for the day and returned late that afternoon to find someone standing outside flagging traffic past the driveway breathlessly announcing, “Sorry! We’re CLOSED!”

“But we’re staying here. You have our luggage.”

“Oh. Then it's okay to come in. But so you know, I just shot a bear and he’s behind the bar.” And so it was so.

Here’s the glorious thing about those rough and tumble AK folks: nothing stops them. Not even a dead bear behind the bar. They straddled the bear's warm body in order to draw themselves beers around since there was no other way to reach the tap! I witnessed it with my own eyes. I even took pictures (hey, I’m an old farm girl) which I will NOT post here since, well, I’m sure they’d be a little TOO rough and tumble for some of you. In the strange aftermath it was all very exciting, not to mention surreal and sleep prohibiting.

Even if you're not a physics expert you may wonder what the bear was doing behind the AK bar. Simple: reeking havoc with the booze bottles--before he was shot. We were told that no matter how they tried to "let him out," he would not go. (Hey, bar snacks!) When the owners' dog appeared and started challenging the bear, things got out of control, thus leaving only one option.

But Charlene, how did the bear get behind the bar to begin with? I hear you asking. He climbed an outside staircase and came in through (as in slashing and clawing through) a window screen, then lumbered through the empty dining room, down the hall PAST OUR BEDROOM DOOR, then on down the interior staircase into the bar. Imagine their surprise!

You know, this whole slip-of-the-finger obviously set me to ruminating about BBQ and bears, but it also caused me to speculate about something else. I wonder if this is how our luggage ends up in the AL Luggageland Graveyard instead of say home with me in IL. Just one teensy typo can make a wild world of difference, ey?

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