TCM reader and Arctic Fox 990 owner, Bill Johns, has published a fun and funny book accounting his experiences being a campground host in Grand Teton National Park. Want the truth about being a campground host in a National Park, or just a laugh? Read Lizard Creek.
The book includes chapters of applying for the campground host job, encountering wildlife, and dealing with travelers. Chapter six is simply titled, “And Don’t Kill Anyone!” Clearly Bill’s book is not your typical campground journal.
To give you a better idea of Bill’s writing style and concept, we got Bill’s permission to publish an excerpt from his book. We encourage you to read the preview, and then click over to Amazon for more.
Lizard Creek is available on Kindle for $4.99 and paperback for $14.95. Nice work, Bill!
Here’s an excerpt from Lizard Creek:
“…I saw the bear cross the road into the other campsites and begin to head back down through that line of campsites. If I cut across the road, I could get ahead of him and still watch his progress. That way I could see if there was any damage in his wake and still warn others that he was approaching. Down at the far end of this row of campers his path crossed the road again and entered the row of campsites along the lake. This gave me a chance to cut across and get to the campers in that line ahead of the bear. There was a path along the lake that I was hoping he would follow, and sure enough, he did.
By then most people were warned of the bear’s approach because of all the commotion and the screams from each campsite as the big bear rummaged his way through. Other campers were up on the road watching the drama unfolding in front of them. They were eager to see a campground host killed and eaten by a huge grizzly. I could hear them talking and see them out of the corner of my left eye while I kept my focus in front of me on the next campers and tried to keep the corner of my right eye trained on the bear. Good peripheral vision is highly undervalued. What that really meant was that there was more going on than I could keep track of, and that we were in the middle of a serious situation.
I looked ahead – Holy Crap! We (the bear and I) were approaching site #15 from two different directions. The bear was on the path along the lake and I was cutting through the trees, staying just ahead of the beast. I looked at site #15 and remembered that the Japanese couples had put their tents on behind the other, facing down the path to the lake. That path intersected with the path the bear was on about 40 feet away. Tiger was out of his tent, the front one, with his girlfriend. They had heard the commotion and but had not seen the bear and didn’t know what to do. I pointed to the road behind, and said I English, “Go to the road. DO NOT RUN!” They just stood there, so I said it again, motioning to them with exaggerated hand motions and arm waving. Tiger looked into the woods, saw the bear, and yelled something in Japanese that I assumed meant, “Hory Clap, it’s a GLIZZRY!” He got the point, grabbed his girl by the arm and turned and they ran like two scalded dogs up to the road. “AND DON’T RUN!” I yelled at their backs.
Then I noticed that the other Japanese couple was nowhere to be seen. I looked at the bear, moving toward the path to the tents in site #15. I looked back at Tiger and yelled, “Where Friends?!” He got it. Tiger pointed toward the front tent and yelled back, “Tent!”
Holy Crap! The other couple was still inside their tent with the door zipped shut. They might have heard the uproar, but surely had no idea what was going on outside. I moved over to their tent and tapped on the outside and yelled, “Get out of the tent!”….nothing….I yelled it again, and Tiger, who had left his girl friend and run back to me, also yelled something to them. They unzipped the tent zipper and opened the tent door. They looked past me and Tiger and down the path, and saw the bear, which had now turned from the lake path and was walking up the path leading directly to their tent. They shouted something in Japanese that sounded like “Hory Clap, it’s a GLIZZRY!” as I motioned for them and Tiger to get back up to the road.
At this point, I remembered the bear and turned around to get a fix on where it was. Holy Crap! It was now about 30 feet away and approaching slowly. He was on all fours and his head was low and moving side to side. Not good!
Turning back to the couple in the tent, I saw they were behaving as all Japanese we had met in Japan. Upon going into a dwelling, they take their shoes off, and before leaving put them back on. In this case it was hiking boots with long laces. They were frantically lacing up their boots and watching the bear at the same time. I yelled, “No boots. Go to road!” Tiger said something to them, and all three of them took off, running full speed back to the road. “AND DON’T RUN!” I yelled to their backs.
Again, I remembered the bear and turned around to find it. Now it was just a few feet away, standing and looking directly at me. His eyes were cold and focused. I thought, “Holy Crap!” There was no escape! I remembered watching one of these beasts walk out into a herd of elk, select a calf it wanted for breakfast and turn on a burst of speed for 40 yards that ended in just a couple of seconds in a savage attack that killed the calf in an explosive collision. The distance here was a few feet, so I knew I was dead. His claws looked like they were 10 inches long, but I knew they couldn’t be more than 6 inches at best! My thoughts raced to my underwear, hoping that I had put on the ones without the holes in them so when the Rangers gathered my remains I would be somewhat presentable. One more move from the bear and holes in the underwear would no longer be the problem.
I wanted to turn my back, scream and beat feet up to the road with everyone else, but there was no chance for that now. I slowly pulled out my can of bear spray, removed the safety clip, pointed it in the general direction of the grizzly’s face, and began talking softly to the bear. I told him what a bad idea it was to kill me and eat me because it would only cause his own death and I didn’t taste very good anyway because I was old and grisly and elk calves taste better than me and you will hate the smell of bear spray and it will burn your eyes and your nose and you might walk into a tree or something and why don’t you just walk away and eat some grubs or ants or something and leave us all alone. The bear stood there looking me right in the eye with no sign of fear or hint of his intentions. He looked like he was thinking it over, and saying to himself, ‘Hmm. I haven’t eaten one of you today…yet.’ …”