IMG_0628Where should I start? I know, the idea for going on a cross-country road trip came from my brother-in-law, Randy Nelson.

Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, the Grand Teton Range, several lakes, miles of hiking, animal encounters, fast food, credit cards, river rafting, mosquito bites, driving 3,400 miles, KOA camping, smores, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Old Faithful, the Boiling River, and the rest is history.

I can’t think of a time when I’ve done more driving, visited more exotic locations, and had more fun. What a trip!

You know when you’re in the car on the way home from a vacation and somebody asks “What was the highlight or the best moment of the trip?” We asked the same question, and the answer was simple — animal encounters.

One encounter in particular will stay with me forever. We were on our second or third day in Glacier National Park and had seen plenty of friendly animals.

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We’d seen deer and rodents, but nothing would have prepared us for our Grizzly encounter. You see a lot of animals in these parks, but they are so far away usually. The rangers want it that way. Most people like to get close to the animals, however.

There we were at the end of a very long hike around Lake Josephine. We had crossed the bridge and were taking a break facing a stream. I was the first one to turn around and saw the Grizzly about 10-12 feet away in the bushed near some trees. I stood still. What else was I going to do?

The bear looked me over and continued toward the bridge. He crossed the path and was about 20 feet away.

“Who’s got the bear spray?” I asked.

Being the media addict that I am, my cell phone came out. I began to record the moment.

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“I kinda want to go on the bridge,” Kyle says.

Then silence.

We all stood for several minutes and watched the bear walk down by the water and take a drink. Then he wandered up the path and disappeared into the woods.

The most freightening moment looking back was the fact that none of us heard or saw the 500 pound Grizzly until he wanted us to see him. He was literally 10 feet from us and we never heard him.

Vacations are full of all kinds of stories, but there is always one that stands out. This is the story of our trip.

What are some of your vacation stories? What do you remember most from your travels? I ‘d love to hear them.