Monday, August 26, 2013

Lions and Tigers and Bears. But Really Just Bears.

Instead of catching a few hours of sleep for yet another ridiculously long day of travel, I am sitting in my room on an adrenaline high, occasionally peering out of my window watching for polar bears. This epitomizes a typical Miriam incident. Something rare that everyone blows off with, "Meh, I've done this for ten years, never seen anything like that," but then happens to me almost immediately.
The first hint tonight would be interesting was at the shift change meeting I go to at eleven thirty. During which, someone brought up safety around bears. Someone mentioned a bear had been seen around camp a few days ago which put me slightly back on edge as it was a reminder that it really isn't city life out here. So, walking out of the meeting, I casually asked and was told, "Oh you never see polar bears out here, only on the ice." I should have known right then. Anytime anyone makes a blanket statement around me or I have that split second thought that I won't really see that polar bear because its so rare, life sets out to disprove that notion. But I drove home about two and a half hours later  with one of my Miriam gut feelings that something was up. I just couldn't shake it. You'd think by now I would just accept it and believe it. It is the same feeling that makes me slow down on dark roads so I see that deer in time. Or has me looking in the right spot and see the mountain lion run by the sorority house. And it is the same feeling I had that made me pull off the road for a two minute break right before I would have driven through a tornado. In any case, my spidey sense was tingling enough that I was on high alert driving home. It's getting pretty dark here for a couple hours at night, and other than passing by rigs, pump stations, etc, there is not much in the way of road side lighting. I was convinced today would be the day something was waiting for me in the road. I normally switch off my radio after I pull off the pad the rig is on. Today I left it on the whole ride, just in case. And sure enough, as I pulled in the parking lot, my headlights passed over a rather alarmingly large bear maybe fifty feet from the front of the camp. Maximum distance, I am not great at estimating them, but waaaaay to close to camp. Hashtag....North Slope Problems. I was on the radio instantaneously calling the main rig site because it was the quickest and only number I know. I was shocked enough that all I managed was a "Who do I need to let know there is a bear at camp?" Security was immediately notified and then I was asked, "What color is it? Brown, black, white?" And all I could say was "Ummmm, well, it looks white to me...." I just could not wrap my head around it. I also got a few random calls back on the radio. "Yeah....we don't have brown bears around here," was the ominous reply to that statement. And my favorite to break the "You have got to be fucking kidding me" tension that was my evening (this post totally deserves a swear word), I got a snarky "You sure its not a panda, Hank?" Yeah....pretty darn isn't a koala bear either, that's for damn certain. Anyway, I just waited in my car and watched it wander around the random equipment and storage until I lost sight of it. But I could tell security had a couple trucks watching it and they radioed and said to go ahead and go into camp. So here I sit, too excited to sleep, contemplating the marvelous fact that I am using the internet, curled up in my warm room, safe and sound, eating too many late night oreos, while one of the most terrifying predators on the planet is lurking just out of site in the darkness outside my window.

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