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Real Sourdough

Arrrgh! I am a tiger on a fucking chain today. Walking circles round the same damn post, the ground worn bare of grass.

So... I'm going to give you guys a treat. This is a real "Sourdough" bear story from Alaska, not mine, but from the inimitable Jeff, a true Virginia gentleman who not only spent some time in Alaska, but also has had long conversations with Traveller, General Robert E. Lee's noble, however dead, horse.

Hope you like it (and Jeff, thanks):

"Remember, all my stories about Alaska are true, or pretty nearly true, or they ought to be true.

About twenty-five years ago, I was working for the Department of the Interior in Fairbanks. I worked with a couple of guys named Joe and Larry. For reasons that will become apparent as our tale unfolds, Larry was later known around the office as "Bear-Bait." Joe and Larry needed to do some field work along Beaver Creek, a remote area to the north. The headwaters were accessible by a dirt road, so they had themselves dropped off with a raft. They planned to spend five days floating down to the mouth of Victoria Creek, where they would be picked up by a float plane.

The first day, all went well. As the shadows lengthened, they found a likely-looking gravel bar and set up camp for the night. They ate their supper and hit the sack. Larry, who was sleeping with his head towards the front of the tent, awoke in the middle of the night with a feeling that there was something over him. There was. It was the head a bear, pushing through the mosquito netting and looking down at him. Larry got excited. He jumped up screaming, just as the bear slashed through the tent with his paw. Joe was also now awake and grabbed the twelve-gauge shotgun. (When your partner wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, it almost always means that you need the shotgun.)

But the bear had disappeared. For a moment, there was silence, with Joe staring intently at the hole in the front of the tent, and Larry hunched up as far back in the tent as he could get. But there was something about Larry that was mighty attractive to that bear, because he suddenly tore a hole in the back of the tent and reached in. Joe whirled around and let off a shot. From a distance of six feet, he missed the bear clean. (Joe said later that he was somewhat nervous and also that Larry's screaming put off his aim; but the truth is, Joe was always a lousy shot.) Anyway, the bear took off into the bush and exits our story.

Joe and Larry weren't sleepy anymore, so they built up the fire and had a drop of snakebite medicine. (There are no snakes in Alaska, but every bush traveller carries a little snakebite medicine with him, in case he should see the first one.) And that's when they realized they were in serious trouble: They were four days away from the pick-up point, their tent was shredded, and it was a bad mosquito year.

Now, in an ordinary mosquito year in interior Alaska, you have to slather your butt with deet when you drop your drawers to take a dump. (If you are a little constipated, you might die of anemia before you finish.) And in a bad mosquito year---well, you understand why Joe and Larry were terrified. Fortunately, they had remembered to pack duct tape. Like snakebite medicine, duct tape is something that every sourdough always has with him. It can be used to repair the fabric covering on the wings of a Piper Cub, but that's another story. Joe and Larry used it to patch their tent, and they lived to tell the tale.

The moral of this story is, don't leave home without duct tape. And don't share a tent with old Bear-Bait."

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post #231
bio: blaine

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April - National Poetry Month 2008

Favorite Things
· Autumn's first apples
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