Heigh-ho, Heidi HO

It’s been a while since I’ve written so it may take a little time to catch you up. I’ll start with Heidi HO. Heidi HO is her legal name, which she gave herself. It’s a long story…

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho
It’s home from work we go…

Do you remember the Seven Dwarfs whistling and singing this song?

Well, it’s just like that here except there are no diamonds or rubies and we’re never off work and the lyrics are more like:

Heidi HO, Heidi HO
It’s home at work she goes…

Believe me, this woman works! And ever since the first week of February when I ripped my meniscus, she’s been working overtime, fighting the elements, the intruders and warding off the possibility of any misconceptions (I’ll get to that part in a bit).

For starters, Heidi finds multiple reason to walk around on the roof. First there were bees gathering in the vent (she had a can of hornet spray too, not just the fly swatter). Then there was the squeaky bathroom fan.

Then there were two tiny, tiny leaks.

The bees are gone. The squeak is better and the leaks are sealed but I’m sure there’ll be something else up there to check on any day now.

I’m not allowed on the roof since I fall off theĀ  steps.

And when she’s not on top of the RV, she’s often under it.

Oops, wrong legs! Too hairy. That pair belongs to our mobile RV repairman that had the less than glamorous task of replacing our grey water valve and our toilet.

This is the picture I meant to use. Heidi is very diligent when it comes to warding off the encroaching caliche, making sure our slides slide and our jacks jack and our steps don’t freeze in place.

She’s constantly baking – for us and for the guys on the rig. She bakes so much she wore out the microwave/convention oven and we had to buy a new one.

This one is scary smart. It may be even smarter than my phone. It can sense when I’m looking at it with confusion and it starts frantically flashing messages at me. Press, Set, Choose etc… This makes me nervous so I push Sensor Heat and let it have it’s way.

Heidi’s also been doing more adventurous things. There was the recon trip which included ditch diving, rolling under barbed-wire and crawling through burrs and stickers to get what she thought was a right-side-up wild bore’s head. It turned out to be an upside-down cow skull but she was still very, very proud.

You already know about the onslaught of rattlesnakes. Heidi Ho is very comfortable with a hoe. Just sayin’…

For a day or two we had a rattlesnake head coming out of the eye socket of the recently procured cow’s skull. She says: Hey, we’re just two women with a hoe a long way from nowhere. Heidi is very symbolic and loves to send “messages”. Pretty sure this is supposed to mean best not mess with me.

The problem with the snake’s head in the skull, apart from the fact that it was truly creepy, was that most likely, the resident bobcat would come at night and snatch it like he did the first one. And if not the bobcat, then a hawk or raccoon or coyote or something…

So she planted the head in a bucket (not in hopes of growing baby rattlers). We’ve been told, but are somewhat skeptical, that in the bucket the ants and things (?) will eat all but the skull which Heidi wants to add to the cow skull to make sure we’re truly sending the right message. Hmm…

It’s been there for a while now and grass is starting to grow on top. Haven’t dug any deeper yet. Last time she looked, the nose was still intact.

Heidi’s also been fending off cows with bowls of water again. I don’t know why the cows here are so adverse to water, but they are and if we don’t deter them, they munch on our fake green carpet and eat our satellite cables.

Catch you on the backside – a good ole southern saying takes on new meaning when Heidi has a bowl, or a swatter or a hoe in her hand! While Heidi’s been doing all of this and so much more, I’ve mostly just been stylin’ in Stir-Fry. More on that next time.

Going On a Bear Hunt

Do you know the song/chant Going on a Bear Hunt? I learned it when I was 9. I thought it was great fun. I never expected to act it out in real life.

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt,
We’re going to catch a big one,
I’m not scared
What a beautiful day!

Going on a Bear Hunt was one of our favorite songs in Brownies. There were lots of verses about grass and mushrooms and rivers and lots of hand motions and clapping and foot-stomping that went with it, but I’m going to skip ahead to my own Bear Hunt story.

It was a beautiful day as the 5 of us climbed aboard the little float plane and soared off to a remote Alaskan island. 5 passengers plus a major case of the flu, which I was unwittingly spreading everywhere, on the one hour flight. I don’t look too sick in this photo but my gills were green 3 hours later. Most of the green was due to the flu – some of it was The Bear Hunt.

B,T,D & H

Once the second plane landed, our little group hiked to the top of the hill where we piled into a van and drove back to the path we would follow down to the bear watching platform just above the creek. Before the hike, we were given a safety talk by our guide.

Our guide J

His main points were:

  • This is not a zoo

Polar bear napping in the Anchorage Zoo

~

Bears have really big paws and claws

~

This Black Bear was napping on his hammock in the Anchorage Zoo.

  • Although they prefer berries, bears can eat you
  • Bears own this island (5 of them for each 1 of us)
  • Don’t make aggressive movements toward a bear or he will want to eat you
  • We’re entering a very remote area – try to spot bears on both sides of the path

He would look something like this only bigger and smellier and hungrier – and quicker

  • If a bear attacks you, make yourself as small as possible and play dead (doubt that this would take much acting)
  • Don’t climb a tree if a bear starts to chase you – they’re better at it

Bear scratches on a tree on the trail

  • Don’t try to pet a bear, he will eat your hand (you have to tell people this?)
  • As you walk through the forest, be very quiet so you don’t scare the bears away

This last one gave me pause. J concluded his 10 minutes speech about all the ways a bear might confuse us for a snack, by telling us to be very, very quiet so we didn’t scare any potential traveling companions away. We’d only been hiking a short time when the man in the yellow jacket stepped smack into a whole lot of scat. He wore his scat like a treasure.

Soon enough we heard/saw/ smelled a bear to our right. He kept pace with us for a few moments before veering off down to the river.

He’s there – you’ll just have to take my word for it

Heidi’s bear phobic (ursaphobia) due to a series of unfortunate and rather terrifying bear encounters as a child on the Boundary Waters in Ely. She was understandably tense. I wasn’t worried since I’m more completely irrationally arachnophobic having had just regular encounters with spiders when I was little. But just to be empathetic, I tried to imagine the forest teeming with 400 pound spiders and that was plenty creepy.

The scariest part of The Bear Hunt, to me, was our guide, J. If I’m going to take a hike, in the wilderness with a bear stalking me I want to be led by one of two types of people:

  1. a Bear Hunter (who carries a rifle and knows how to use it) or
  2. a Bear Whisperer (who rehabilitates bears and trains people) Instead we had
  3. a New Yorker who got tired of the city life, moved to Alaska, bought a Jimmy Riffle hat, a really big knife and a can of pepper spray.

Note knife and pepper spray

I’m willing to concede that by the time we reached the platform, where we did watch a black bear enjoy a salmon dinner – I had a fever and my flu symptoms were raging.

Shooting into the light with my camera phone – bear is on right of the big rock

~

Snacking on salmon

Still, it didn’t feel quite right when J said that just last week, a cute bear cub had climbed onto the platform in the middle of a tour. Everybody had a great photo opps until the Momma bear came snarling up. Ironically she reached under the sign explaining the Life Cycle of Salmon and grabbed her offspring. J’s words: I just stood back and watched while people got to get real close to the cub. How cool is that?

J telling the baby bear story right on the spot where it took place

~

Always respect Mother Nature. Especially when she weighs 400 pounds and is guarding her baby. ~ James Rollins

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt,
We’re going to catch a big one,
I’m not scared
What a beautiful day!
Uh, oh! It’s dark in here.
I feel something,
It has lots of hair!
It has sharp teeth!
It’s a bear!
Run in the house and lock the door.
Phew! That was close!

I’m not afraid!

Right.

The man in the yellow jacket got back in the van, still admiring his souvenir scat.

It wasn’t much like the bear hunt I’d imagined when I was 9 but it certainly was an adventure!

***Exit pursued by a bear. ~ William Shakespeare
[STAGE DIRECTIONS in The Winter’s Tale]