We've had an eventful few weeks around here. Maria got her tonsils out and was completely miserable for a week. Luckily she's back to her old happy self again.
Todd and I booked the Balsam campground again this year so the sisters (and possibly cousins) could go camping together again. When none of the sisters were available we decided to invite our neighbors to go with us instead (the same group of 6 families that went down to Payson last year and got evacuated in the middle of the night because of a forest fire....)
When we got to Balsam on Thursday the camp director told us that there had been several bear sightings in the area the last few weeks. We made sure that we were really careful cleaning up food and storing it in our bins and putting garbage in cars at night. Well, after dinner on Friday a black bear wondered into our campground. The kids saw it first and started yelling. Joseph thought he saw 2 bears and told me he thought it might be a mother and her cub (it ended up being just one bear that was about 200 pounds). Most of the kids were on the other end of the group site and we all panicked and tried to make sure the kids were okay. I grabbed Joseph and Emily and took them to Todd's car while Todd looked for Maria and Andrew. When I got into the car the camp director came out with his gun to check things out and asked if I would drive down to the Cherry campsites (about 7 miles away) and tell the host there to call the authorities to come up. I raced down the hill thinking it was close, but it ended up taking me 10 minutes to get there and 10 to get back. The whole way there and back I was dying because I had no idea what was happening and if people were okay or not. While I was gone Todd and the other adults rounded up the kids (luckily there was a van down on the other end of the campsite in that little parking area) and crammed them in the mini van. Then they tried to get the bear to leave by yelling, banging pots and pans, etc. It went on for about 10 minutes. It started coming towards the adults and the camp director fired a warning shot but the bear didn't even flinch. It kept coming towards them so he shot it.
It's unfortunate that it had to be killed, but it was definitely the right decision. It bit into someone's cooler too. It was a pretty traumatic experience for everyone. One family left right after but the rest of us stayed and I'm glad we did. We gathered everyone together for a prayer and thanked Heavenly Father that it turned out as well as it did and that none of us got hurt. The ones that were staying further away from the common area moved their tents onto the volleyball area next to the fire pit so that everyone felt more secure. We thought that there was a slight chance that there might be another bear but just praying that it was the only one that was spotted in the area. In the morning we had a couple of people come from the forest service and talk to us about bear safety which was really good for the kids. Then the news came and wanted to talk to us so we had our friend Dave do the interview since he's an HR guy and does stuff like that all the time. (the news also filmed a group that was further down from us for some reason)
Everyone joked that we survived a forest fire the year before, a bear this year, and wondered what would happen next year when we went camping again. What are the odds of 2 things like that happening to the same group of people? And to top it off the wheel on Todd's trailer came apart on the way home. Luckily we pulled off of the exit in time on 90th South and called our neighbors who were pretty close in front of us. We were able to pile all of our stuff (including the folded up trailer) onto their trailer. It was a pretty eventful weekend, and we were exhausted emotionally afterwards. We found out a few days later that a much larger bear was also in the same area that weekend, we we were definitely blessed that we didn't run into that one!
And, for those of you who have been asking, here are a few pictures of the house. We finally have windows and a roof. The progress has been VERY slow, but it's fun to see all of the changes and see how it all comes together.