Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thanksgiving in Hunter’s Haven 2009

Hunter’s Haven is a tiny community just outside of the Ocala National Forest. My family has spent Thanksgiving weekend there for over 40 years. Every year brings a new adventure; at least that’s what we choose to call them ….adventures.

For example, there was the year that my brother’s Ford Bronco was stuck in the dirt, and my brother-in-law had to pull him out with his Toyota Truck. As someone was videotaping them, the Bronco broke free and crashed into the Toyota. This happened about 30 years ago, but we all still talk about it. The Ford versus Toyota battle is the equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys where my family is concerned. Then there was the year that my brother drove into camp, jumped out of the truck hollering that he “got one”, and everyone came running to see the deer. Much to our surprise, he stopped just outside of camp and tied a dead squirell to the back bumper!

Well ….this year we had quite a few surprises. My daughter Amanda was sitting on my sister’s porch when she looked down and saw an 18 inch orange, yellow and black snake. In the ensuing frenzy, she couldn’t remember her Daddy’s rhyme: “Red on black, you’ll be back; red on yellow, a dangerous fellow”. Really, who would remember that in a panic? She screamed for her dad, and he quickly became our favorite snake-slayer. Yes, it was a coral snake.

Oh! Important note: do not try to take four dogs out of the camper for a walk at the same time ……...especially if two are not used to being on a leash, and one of those two is a Chocolate Lab. Just saying. No, really. I have multiple bruises to prove it. You’d never know they were capable of such behavior from the look of the picture below, right?

But the best story from this year involves a late night, dog food, and garbage. Campers should know better, but, ……….well ………we were a little distracted after the coral snake and the “not-so-graceful” fall out of the camper. Let’s set the mood ……
It was a dark and stormy night …. (just kidding). It was a pleasant night. We had the windows open; after all, Thanksgiving in Florida usually isn’t cold. Amanda was sleeping under the front window in the bed converted from the table. She had her two dogs with her ….the Lab, and a Jack Russell Longhaired Terrier. My granddaughter Evelyn was asleep in the bunk in the back. My husband and I were asleep in the bedroom at the front of the camper with our two dogs, a poodle and a Chi-Doxie (or Doxie-Huahua as my husband has dubbed him). It was a peaceful night, or so we thought.
When we got up the next morning, our trash was strewn all over the yard and down the road. And ….the un-opened dog food bag that was on the picnic table was gone. A bear had come through camp, and our dogs did not make a sound! Here’s my thoughts on how it went down:

Cast of Characters:
Mr. Bear – the Black Bear
Bryant – the Chocolate Lab
Molly – the Jack Russell Terrier
Yvette – the Poodle
Chico – the Chi-Doxie

[Mr. Bear approaches the camper.]
Bryant: “Hey guys! Do you smell what I smell?”
Other dogs (in unison): “OMG! Yes!”
Bryant: “DON’T SAY A WORD! If you do, I will deal with you later, understand?”
Chico: “Why do you always think you are in charge? This is MY camper!”
Bryant: “I have teeth bigger than you. SHUT UP!
Other dogs (in unison): whimper

[Mr. Bear grabs the garbage, digs through it, throwing stuff everywhere. Disgusted because he didn’t find much to eat, he turns to leave. All of a sudden, he sees the bag of dog food. His eyes open wide, he starts to drool a little out of the left corner of his mouth. He looks around to make sure his other bear friends are busy near other campers. He hops up on his hind legs, and like Fred Flinstone at the bowling alley, he tippy-tippy-toes to the bag, grabs it and runs like the wind!]

Bryant: “He’s gone. This NEVER HAPPENED. If anyone asks us about it in the morning, just act like those penguins in ‘Madigascar’ ….you, know …..just smile and wag guys, just smile and wag”.
Other dogs (in unison): nod emphatically

[Ten minutes later….back at home, Mr. Bear is leaning against his favorite tree. The bag of dog food is in the crook of his arm, opened. Slowly, he reaches into the bag, pulls out a morsel and throws it into the air. He catches it in his mouth, slowly turns his head, smiles and sticks out his tongue.]

I bet later he laughed about it with his friends.

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