Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Grizzly Bear, a Jehovah's Witness, and Textbook Kleptomania

I’m at Missoula International Airport, where by “International” they mean “Canada” and where it took all of 10 minutes to get from the check-in counter to my gate. The woman across the aisle from me just looked at her friend and said (disapprovingly) that “yeah, Preston hasn’t shaved since he’s been out of the military.”

Anyway, two stories: one about a bear encounter, one about a day full of horribly embarrassing failures.

1) Bear encounter

Last weekend, I went to Glacier National Park with Raphael and Raphael’s friend Gus.

We hiked to a lake called Grinnell Lake. On the way, we picked up a solo hiker, who asked to join us because he was nervous about hiking alone in the evening. I don’t remember his name, but I do remember that he’s from Colorado, loves mountain biking, and is a Jehovah’s Witness.

On the way back, we were walking on a trail along the side of another lake. We had just swatted our way through enormous clouds of gnats (SO GROSS -- we could feel them hitting our faces and going up our noses) and there were very tall bushes on either side. Raphael was in front. Suddenly, there was a rustle. He sprang back, whispered “bear spray,” and grabbed the can out of my backpack. “There’s something big there,” he said.

We starting making a lot of noise, clapping our hands and yelling. You’re supposed to do that in order to alert bears to your presence: you don’t want to surprise a bear. Our Jehovah's Witness – mountain biker - Colorado friend offered to go first, holding his own bear spray. Raphael went second, holding our bear spray. Gus and I gallantly took up the rear. Right as we got to the same bushes, there was another rustle, and the two guys in front turned around and shoved us back down the path. We obediently turned around and walked back through the gnat cloud (gross) yelling and clapping.

There was a bear in those bushes, just off the trail, literally four or five feet away from us. Raphael and the other guy saw brown fuzz and its ears poking out from the top of the bush, which means that it was a VERY large bear (those bushes were just as tall as I was, if not more.) It was probably a grizzly given the size and the fact that Glacier National Park has a lot of grizzlies. It didn't seem bothered by us at all...phew!

2) Day full of horribly embarrassing failures

Raphael left yesterday for a field trip, and sadly won’t be back in town until after I’m gone. He and I went out to breakfast at our (his originally, but mine too now!) favorite pastry place, where they have excellent chai tea lattes (my weakness when it comes to coffee shops). Then he drove away. I walked home, then realized that my wallet was in his car.



Cue the WORST AFTERNOON EVER. I called Raphael, and he said that his car *might* just be unlocked. So I biked to the university campus, only to discover that his car was in fact locked. I biked back home and learned from the Internet that I could get emergency cash by bringing my checkbook and government ID to the nearest Bank of America. I looked up the nearest Bank of America: Idaho.


Then I spent half an hour on the phone, navigating the automated menu system in order to speak to a human being. The human being I found told me that I could wire money to myself using Western Union, and pick it up from there. I did. I then biked to Western Union, where I waited for half an hour before being told that my transfer did not exist. I biked home, called Western Union, and was told that the transfer had been cancelled because they had phoned me to confirm the transfer and “hadn’t been able to reach me.”

That’s because my cell phone doesn’t get signal in Montana. They couldn’t warn me they were going to do that?

So, I gave up and called Gus. I wrote him a check, and he gave me cash. Infinitely easier than anything my bank advised me to do – ugh.

Gus and I went out to dinner then chatted and played poker (I won :P – woohoo, pocket kings!) After that, he subjected me to two episodes of a TV show called Squidbillies, before observing that I didn’t like it (at all) and switching over to Top Gear. That’s an awesome show. In this particular episode, they interviewed Rowan Atkinson (I love that man) and hitched an Audi and a Jaguar up to carriages in order to drive them as trains. The Audi train caught on fire.

Gus drove me home, and en route I realized that I had left my purse at his house. We drove back, I grabbed the purse, and THEN he drove me home. I peeked into my purse and confirmed that my passport was in fact in there. Then, after cleaning up Raphael’s room and packing up my stuff, I found my passport on the couch.


I opened my purse, and there was in fact a passport in there. I opened it. It was Gus’s passport.


I Facebook messaged Gus, who said: “Textbook kleptomania.”

I swear that I have NO idea how that happened. At all. I also have no idea how long it’s been in there; I’ve had *a* passport in my purse for a long time.

Anyway, it’s time to board my flight. I’ll be in New York for the next two days, staying with my Grandma. After that, it’s onto London (Elizabeth will be out of town – BOOOOOOO!) and then onto a EuroAdventure: France, Switzerland, Northern Italy, maybe Slovenia, and five-ish days in Croatia. More stories to come!


  1. Wow, Anna, having your wallet stuck in the car really sucks, although it's definitely better to have a passport too many rather than too few. :) I spent five hours today trying to figure out how to do laundry here, and I was eventually quite a mess, so you are quite a champion for handling all this so well!

    And Top Gear can be really great. I watched an episode on the plane on my way to Heathrow, long live British Airways. How long are you going to be in London?

    1. Oh no! Sorry to hear about the traumatizing laundry experience. Unfortunately I'm only going to be in London for two days (Saturday and Sunday) before taking off. Will you be around? Shoot me an e-mail or Facebook message! :)

  2. wow that's a strange series of events.. have fun in Europe!

  3. Eep, Anna, losing my wallet (and replacing (?) my passport) just before a flight is the kind of thing I get nightmares about. Glad it all worked out!

  4. Hahaha I for some reason missed this blog post, and just read it....but...this is precious! You beat my kleptomania by a mile! Even I hadn't gotten to passports yet!