I thought that maybe we could start Sidespin posts dedicated to encounters we have had with wildlife, whether frightening, funny or just interesting. This is something I have thought about for a while after Tom Ley's bear posts, but didn't want to infringe on that in any manner.


Background - As some of you may already know, I live in Colorado and more specifically in Colorado Springs. My house is located in the foothills of the the Rockies in the northwest part of the city just south of the Air Force Academy and I can literally access hiking trails on the Rampart Range that are about 2 miles from my front door. The foothills area I am in is called Rockrimmon and used to be a source of coal for the city in the early 1900's with a myriad of mine shafts running like a spiders web beneath the entire neighborhood.

The proximity to the mountains and the layout of the neighborhood because of the topography lends itself to wild animals regularly travelling to and fro from the wilderness to our streets. There are a number of "greenways" that bisect the populated areas that are a collection of natural creeks and drainage that mirror the mine shafts beneath them and form a kind of residential highway for animals to move about without having to wander down in plain view on the streets. Most of these have established trails, but some are purely just a creek bed or drainage. One of these greenways is located directly across from my house.

Car wash day - My first story starts off as a nice summer afternoon in 2005, when I decided to wash my car in the driveway. It was a sunny day and nothing unusual for Colorado. I had just finished the rinse of my car and was kneeling at the front of it trying to remove the ever present smashed bug residue when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed movement just to my right in a bushy area that separated my neighbors house from mine.

Out popped a bear head from the brush, about 3 feet from me and at my eye level. Shit!! I just froze, and so did the bear. I was so frightened, I honestly didn't react or move. Before I could decide what to do, like a fucking Russian clown car, out popped another bear and then another. Three bear cubs were now looking at me from just a few feet away. I am a fairly tall guy at 6'4" and about 205 in weight, but because I was kneeling I was in a bad position to move quickly and was not intimidating to them. Eventually when I recovered my wits, I found myself slowly kind of back crawling while staying down kneeling and dropped my sponge back in the bucket out of reflex.


The bears, in trail, started following me as I back peddled, taking the ground I was relinquishing at the same pace. They were not afraid of me in the least. As I reached the corner of the walkway to my front door I stood up and called to my wife who happened to be on the front porch. She had not seen the bears come into view yet and was wondering why I was making the strange crab walk backwards.

Maybe it was the warbled half hushed tone I used to say her name, but she immediately recognized that something was seriously wrong and I was moving that way because I was scared shitless. I managed a weak "Bears!" and she did not wait, but rushed back inside in a flash. I thought, well fuck, thanks for abandoning me here, but she came right back out the front door sporting a camera. Whew! You go woman!

The first of the three cubs kept following me while the other two sniffed the corner of my car. Turns out that the car soap I was using that day had a weird berry smell that they found appealing. In fact, the lead cub stopped at my wash bucket and proceeded to try to sample the "berry juice". He stuck his snout in first and then tried to fish the sponge out with one paw. This allowed me time to book it back up to the porch and my wife started to take pictures.


It was shortly after the above picture was taken that the three cubs left and went up the street. Apparently, mama was a few blocks away and calling to them in a series of huffing barks. After they left, my next door neighbor then came over to tell me that the three cubs had been in his backyard raiding bird feeders. They had climbed the fence from his backyard and that is when they popped out of the bushes across from me.

The rest of the summer I was paranoid of another encounter with the bears, but they never reappeared in daylight. We only knew they were still around from the various overturned and pillaged garbage cans we found each morning throughout the neighborhood.


NEXT WEEK - Is That A Puma On Your Porch Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?