I expected to find my dad gimping around the little cabin we rented for a long weekend. Or maybe even thinking about bed by the time I rolled in late Thursday after a late hard drive in I-80.
Think again, the old man (he turns 80 this summer) was wired. He had a bear story.
We had rented a little cabin in the central Pennsylvania mountains for a final turkey hunt for him, and for playing on some of the greatest trout streams in world.
Because I was running late, he picked up the key for the cabin. As he turned up the drive, a big black bear ambled into camp. My dad got out to take pictures, but the bear hightailed it before he clicked.
Bears that learn not only to accept people but equate people with food become known as nuisance bears.
Of course, that is only because somewhere along the line, some idiot screwed up and taught bears (especially nuisance bears at camps) that people give food handouts.
Even so, I was envious. Even a camp bear is still a bear, and my encounters with wild black bears can still be counted on my two hands.
To top it off, on Friday night my younger brother and I did a long drive to find cell phone reception and look at deer, and, while we were gone, it got wilder.
Two small bears, my dad guessed yearlings, banged around the side of the cabin, then walked over to where the neighbors had a cooler on their porch. The neighbors ran inside and my dad shooed the bears away, though he said one of them wasn't in a hurry to hurry off.
There's the real trouble with nuisance bears: when they begin passing along the tradition to younger bears that people equal easy food.
To top things off, I was catching up tonight after being disconnected for four days and checked The Outdoor Pressroom as customary and found a woman had been mauled (a very rare occurrence for a black bear) by a bear just to our north, according to a story in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette.
All the same, I wish I'd seen one of dad's bears.