We will always remember Ellie for her love for others, her creativity, sensitivity, and delight in life! Ellie's light has spread far and wide... may it continue to shine in our hearts.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Close Encounters of the Bear Kind

John and Reni got up very early this morning and headed into Glacier National Park. Armed with cameras and bear spray, they braved the wilds to capture the glorious beauty of Montana at sunrise. Doesn't that sound lovely? Not to me at 5:30 a.m. I had only just fallen asleep in the wee hours of the morning, and it sounded like torture and death. (Have I mentioned that I'm not a morning person?) As it was, Ethan woke me up way too early, terribly upset by the fact that his daddy was not in the house on his first day off of work in 10 days. My morning continued in such a way that I was almost wishing that I had joined the explorers. (While I tried to keep sleeping, Ethan watched a movie, ate his breakfast, and ran circles around my bed, beat the side of my bed with a sword, jumped into the bed to snuggle with me - while complaining loudly of his father's absence - and I believe there was some obnoxious paper crumpling going on as well because I woke up once to find Ethan snatching a crinckled piece of paper out from under the sheets where I was laying. I have a vague recollection of him thrusting "contructions" into my hands while I was sleeping. I believe they were instructions about throwing a dinasaour bone and locking up the lions... which makes perfect sense if you've seen "Night at the Museum". It didn't make any sense at all in the dream I was having.) Well, John and Reni decided that the park was too beautiful for the rest of us to miss, so they returned home to gather the troops. The troops - which include a much happier Ethan - have just left me behind for their adventures in the wild. (Have I mentioned that I'm not an outdoorsy person?) Hey, it's barely past lunch time and I still haven't had my breakfast... nor have I recovered from my traumatic morning... You're lucky that my morning tea has kicked in enough for my eyes to be open to type right now. Anyways... yes, there is a point to all of my ramblings... John and Reni came home with a story to end all stories! John's dream came true - they had a bear sighting.

While wandering around taking pictures, they ended up at the same bridge and waterfall where we had our previous bear sighting. They were finally heading back to the car, when just ahead, on the other side of the road, they spotted a black bear. John has estimated that the bear was about 75 feet away from them. They stopped in their tracks and positioned themselves side by side to look as big as possible. John began talking to the bear in a very calm voice, saying "good bear" over and over, as well as speaking words to himself and Reni "stay calm, don't let your fear take over..." The bear continued grazing, without looking in their direction. He obviously knew they were there, but wasn't threatened. They very slowly began backing away from the bear. (To get to the car, though, they would eventually need to pass that point.) As they were watching, the bear looked up and walked into the middle of the road, then began walking in a straight line - directly towards John and Reni. (They discovered later that there were people riding horses, coming from the direction of the car, effectively positioning the bear between the horses and John and Reni.) This whole time, John held both of the cans of bear spray while Reni was taking pictures. John said that his heart just sank as he watched the bear walk towards them. All the while John was speaking in a low calm voice "good bear, good bear". And then the bear took three running steps at them and John's voice rose and got sharper, saying "that's too close bear!" The bear veered away from them, but keeping his body turned in their direction, began to walk past them. John's voice lowered and calmly continued "good bear, good bear..." John later walked heel to toe between the point where they were standing and where the bear passed them - it was 25 feet - nearly the same distance between the walls of our living room. As the bear ambled past, John and Reni could clearly see his claws and his eyes. John is not exactly sure how big the bear was - he's planning on studying one of the pictures of the bear and calculating it's size (I won't explain, because I didn't understand how - something to do with the angle from which Reni took the picture, the hight of the post the bear was standing next to, and the distance the bear was from the post.... Have I mentioned that math was not my strongest subject?) But John does know for sure that had the bear stood up on his hind legs, he would have been taller than John's 5 feet 9 inches. So now I give you the amazing pictures that Reni was able to take. I have no idea how she managed it without fainting dead away! I zoomed and cropped the first several, but the ones of the bear walking past them are how Reni took them - you can tell that they were CLOSE. The last ones are of John, and the black speck on the bridge is the bear - still in view! Hope you enjoy the pictures. I'm off to savor a glorious day - indoors, and alone! Ahhhhh.



















At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Heather said...

wow! That bear almost looks fake! Tell John that I wouldn't expect anything less than what he did..I just didn't know that Reni was just as adventurous as John was. Those Skees have lots of guts!! Miss you guys!

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, that is too funny..the photo with John and the bear spray and bear walking down the bridge. You go John! haha, Sheri :)

At 5:09 PM, Blogger LindaSueBuhl said...

testosterone is SUCH a strange substance but LOVED the post and the pictures - bear was too doggoned close and very manly of John to protect them all. Obviously he was happy when the bear was ambling away. Truly laughing out loud - y'all just tickle me!

At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does your Mother know you have been out with the BEARS?
Mary Ruth McClain

At 8:25 PM, Blogger tricia said...

I can't believe you'd rather stay home, than to go play with bears. I'm working on our project.

At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah, thanks for the excellent description! I sent all the family members from the family website to your blog for the story. Love you!knhnekkt

At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there Skees family! Just dropped in to say hi and offer a quick word of encouragement. Haha. Forgot my "quick word" : ) But we love you and we are praying for you.

-Rylie and Sam Philips and our 7 kids, Kathryn, Kale, Kayleigh, Keirian, Kamon, Kimmie and Karol
Ages 13,9,7,5,4,2,6 mos.

At 7:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


WOW how cool was this story! The Lord delights in every aspect of our lives. John will forever have this memory and close encounter with one of God's creatures. Thank you for sharing the photos and of course your amazing selves!!!

Love You Guys,
The Haviland's

At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Jen Johnson said...

I knew John would find one!! And pictures to prove it! Cody went with Tyler to work yesterday and they saw a black bear just when they were coming off of Marias Pass. Cody was pretty excited.
I'm going to bible study Thursday if you want to come. Not sure when your company has to go home. Have a great day and I'll chat with you soon.

At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Jen Johnson said...

Now this is why you moved to Montana.......quarter sized snow flakes falling the middle of June! My dad has always said that weather in Montana is 9 months of winter and 3 months of poor sledding! Have a wonderfully white day!

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Rob and Zach Charlebois said...

Wow! What a story! Awesome pictures too! I am thinking of you often.
Rob and Zach

At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're my kind of girl Sarah! I would have been right with you. The pictures are amazing - wow.
Just finished the ABC News here on the East Coast and the final segment tonight was about the prom at Slone-Kettering. It made me remember you and Ellie choosing your dresses, etc., and all the excitement going on. So much can bring little Ellie to mind and although sadness lingers, I will smile about things she did. Do you think her prom is tonight in heaven?? Be well - Gerry

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Mandy Caley said...

That is hilarious- and that bear is way too close....


At 2:04 PM, Blogger "Bug" said...

We've decided that the bear passed John by because he has NO MEAT on his bones!!! hahahaha!!!!
That was a total John Skee's story!!

Miss you guys!

Roger, Debbie & Kaeli

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

Johnny is hilarious! Love the pictures, I miss you guys!

At 8:44 AM, Blogger Mollie said...

"good bear, good bear" - sounds like a title to a Dr. Seuss book. Thanks for the smile.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Hi, my name's Rachel - i have created a video on youtube in memory of Ellie, with the song 'A New Day Has Come' hope you like it, here is the link:

Email me on freshprincess.no1@gmail.com
if you do
Think of you all and Ellie always,

At 7:08 PM, Blogger Keri said...

My computer crashed last September and I lost all my "favorites". I have often thought of your family and Ellie over these last several months. I found your blog again today and I spent the last 2 hours reading each and every post between then and now. First of all, I am truly sorry for your loss of brave, sweet, Ellie. Although I know she is dancing with our Savior, I have wept tonight for your family. I am a parent 4 times over and I cannot imagine your loss, but you showed the most selfless love by encouraging Ellie to "Run to Jesus." You are a wonderful mother. I used to comment before when you were in New York, and when you first moved to Montana. I am so glad you are in your home now. I will continue to pray for God's healing on your hearts and for Ethan to always remember his Ellie.


At 10:12 PM, Blogger oneofhisfriends said...

Hi John and Reni,

I'm glad you survived your encounter with the bear. When I got back from a vacation in Glacier National Park in 1980, I discovered a book, "Bears", by Ben East. I had a particular interest in grizzlies, as two campers were killed near St. Mary on my third day in the park. They broke every rule of safety regarding ursus horribilus.

The book details myriad encounters people have had with black, grizzly, Kodiak and polar bears. One point is hammered home repeatedly. The one predictable thing about bears is that their behavior is unpredictable. Check it out. From what Sarah writes about you John, you're a pretty adventurous man. Also known for decisiveness and leadership. "Bears" is must reading for any prudent citizen of the habitat of the grizzly.


At 2:20 PM, Blogger AJS said...

What an amazing experience for John and Reni! Thanks for sharing it in such a descriptive way. The pictures are amazing.

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Julie said...

John is all big and tough after the bear leaves! Too funny! I would have been glued to the spot and wouldn't have been able to get those great pictures.

At 7:33 PM, Anonymous Donna Stolle said...

. . . here cubby, cubby, cubby! What a funny story! Who's the man? You da man, John! :-)


Post a Comment

<< Home