My name is Jonene Ficklin, and I'm a full-time wife, mom, writer, and professional artist. I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I use colored pencils, oil paints, and watercolors. I love what I do!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tiptoeing Through Grizzly Land

Why do people go on vacation? We actually take time off work and spend money so our whole family can sit together in a vehicle for loooooooooooong hours (a full day of driving in our case) going from point A to point B.

I guess it’s what’s waiting at point B that makes it all worthwhile. In our case, it was the very wild Glacier National Park in Montana. Yes, the park does have a real bonafide glacier. It also has grizzly bears, huckleberries (amazingly good, especially in a milkshake), rare Lady’s Slipper flowers, and a micro-climate temperate rainforest.

We went for a hike in a Tolkienesque world where trees, rocks and the ground were covered with moss.

We looked up to see waterfalls draping the ridges and mists brushing peaks still holding snow. A nearby river barreled over beds of stacked shale, and the water was true turquoise – I’m not kidding – it really was.

The smells were amazing. We grew dizzy from inhaling while walking through forests of huge pines. With all the fallen trees and leaves, you’d think it’d smell rotten, but it didn’t at all. There was this wet, piney aroma that was as fresh and intoxicating as newborn baby breath.
It's silent as a chapel, broken only by an occasional rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker or stacatto scolding of an annoyed squirrel.

And a lot of people were there. I'm sure it would be a real problem keeping people away - except for the fact that we're all meandering in the company of 800 pound predators who consider us a light snack. That's just grizzlies. There's also huge black bears and cougars.
We took a can of bear spray. I confess I didn’t feel terribly secure. If something happened, we’d need to make sure to spray with the wind, not against it. I’d been informed of the joys of being mauled, after seasoning myself with misdirected pepper spray.

So what were we suppose to do? Toss a handful of dry grass in the air (you know – check the angle of the breeze) if we sight a bear? I was a little concerned about the time constraints, among other things.

I was also informed that I didn’t need to worry about bear spray if we walked with a group of older tourists (you know – someone slower).

At this point, I didn’t want to be informed about anything else. I just wondered what we’re doing taking our kids there.

But they had a blast. It was beautiful and an adrenaline rush (for me at least as I looked behind every tree). You know in the movie ‘Jurassic Park’ – all the screaming and running? Didn’t happen. We made it out alive and in one piece. The bear spray is still safely in the can.

Okay. I had a blast, too. It was more beautiful than I could imagine. And with all the noise we were making, the bears probably high-tailed it to Canada. So with my free time, I took a million pictures until my son actually suggested that all cameras be confiscated. (My family’s very patient with me and my snap-a-holic ways.) But I got a lot of great photographs!

We did a lot of other things, too, like visiting the Montana Vortex (The House of Mystery—you can check it out at, and having an awesome family reunion. I’ll have to save those stories for another time.

The hardest part of the trip was knowing we’d have to face another super long drive back home.

But we made it. We’re home now. And I’m so glad the only bear we saw is in the pack of postcards we brought back with us.

What was your scariest vacation?


  1. Looks like a blast.

    I gave you an award on my blog. Check it out.

  2. Leisha,
    Wow, you're the best! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  3. Loved your report~ Scariest vacation? Our 25th anniversary. How is it we managed to stay three different places- none with a complete bathroom. Further more, the first place we stayed, a secluded cabin, forgot to mention, the owner stood outside the door all the time! He waited to talk to us on our way out the door and our way back to the place. He made us sign the book with "happy thoughts" I was starting to feel like it was Hotel California. You can check out at any time, but you can NEVER LEAVE! CREEPY. . . Our Silver Anniversary was more like a sliver anniversary! Teresa

  4. Teresa,
    Wow, that is spooky. Ha ha, sliver anniversary! I'll have to remember that.


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