Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 07-18-2009, 06:53 PM   #1
Rivet Master
cclarkego's Avatar
1966 24' Tradewind
Oak View , California
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 1,063
Images: 8
Has Anyone Else Had a Bear Climb In Their Airstream?

And I am talking about when you are also inside of it at the same time.....
Picture this, (A true story!)
A woman alone...out in the mountains of Ojai, California, the only trailer there in the 3AM.
The Labs woke me up barking, I told them to quiet down, don't fuss about the coyotes, go back to sleep. Then my female, Vige, standing on my bed where she usually sleeps, is glued to the window and changes her bark to an unearthly sound that could possibly preclude a tornado. I am instantly awake, eyes wide open. I switch on the big Mag Lite and there, directly below my bedroom window in front of me, is THE biggest bear I have ever seen. In a previous life I was a backpacking guide, I have seen a lot of bears..this guy is huge. I flash the light around, yell at it to take off, meanwhile the two dogs are doing cartwheels off the walls. It has been 102 degrees for the past week and every window is open letting in the fragrance of Eau de bear to whip them into a manic frenzy. This bear isn't even flinching, he just silently stares me down. After a bit of this to set me a little on edge, he wanders slowly around towards the back of the trailer.
I sidestep fast from the bed to the bathroom, and there he is again, but this time so close, even I can smell him. My entreaties for him to leave my landscape are now in earnest. I grab my cell phone to hit the number of a friend camping a few canyons beyond me; more company is what I really would like at this moment. Cell service up here is quite ephemeral, I heard them say, "Hello," and instantly, the line goes dead. I am redialing just as fast as I can, over and over, with the same result. The back of my mind is thinking, remember, you have planned for an encounter like this, more noise would be better. I grab the car keys to hit the panic button and set off the car alarm right as he stands up to his full height, quite emphatically eyeball to eyeball. I push the button and nothing happens. Push, push, push, PUSH; nothing happens. BOOM!! The entire bathroom screen comes flying towards me with a flick of his wrist. (I know by now some of you are wondering why I haven't shut the windows. This is an old 1965 model with rickety, cranky, tiny cranks, that take me fifteen minutes per window even under much more pleasant circumstances. Yes, I have siliconed them.) I drop the phone in surprise, but grab the pepper spray next, aim point blank with his nose three feet away. Flick off the safety and push the button. Nothing happens. I hear my voice going octaves higher than any previous history. My male lab, Mike, is trying to climb the toilet past me and hurl himself through the window. That does not sit well with me and I am trying to hold him back despite the fact that he weighs 80 lbs and I weigh 110 and for once my stubborness has found an appropriate outlet. With the other hand, I am beating the large Mag Lite back and forth very fast and very loudly against the metal frames of the window and wondering where on earth I put the Marine air horn cannister. Unbelievably, he goes back down on the ground. Unfortunately, it was what I believe, is called a feint. Revised reality is the appearance of those very large front legs coming, oh my God, right in through the window, head following quickly as a close second.
This is pretty much where I at last throw in the towel, one hand switches firmly back to the car keys while every last ounce of my energy is segued into removing the three prior owners swiftly off the property.
However, my dogs, as I open the front door, are once again, having hearing problems. "In the car! In the car!," was somehow misconstrued into "Get the bear! Get the bear!," perhaps due to my high decibel level. I however, chose to head for the car, parked in front of the trailer. As a final offering, I threw open two car doors for them, which then finally set off the car alarm. There was intense barking going on at the back of the trailer, then Vige came flying into the car. Just then, like in the movies, or that last hand that slaps down all the Aces, here comes the Cavalry. Car lights appear on the horizon. My heart stops though, when I realize I hear no more barking, no noise except the car alarm and I am too afraid to go see around the corner. I call and call for Mike. The truck pulls up behind the trailer with headlights blaring, Mike shows up out of the blue from a totally different direction, I sneak a look and the bear is gone.
Apparently when the phone hit the floor, cell service suddenly improved even though all he ever heard was, "Get out of here, get out of here!", which sounded a bit fishy from me at 3AM and off he went.
I needed a little respite, locked up all the windows and left the Airstream to fend for herself, then followed along to the other campsite to watch the sun come up.
Epilogue: After the day had gotten a firm start and my heart was more calm, I went back to investigate for any further repercussions. On one side of the trailer the bear left his indelible signature of claw marks from both paws reaching up, as if to attempt climbing on top the trailer. I am 5'7" and standing on tiptoe, can barely reach the top of the marks. Windows were intact, but on both sides of each one, I found giant bear prints where he had stood up to make his own inquiry into possible gustavory satisfaction while we lay sleeping. Vige must have made a sudden nose to nose aquaintance as our window was being checked and induced her hitherto unknown voice which, thank God, brought me to my senses. She can henceforth sleep perpendicular to me whenever she pleases, hogging most all the bed, without any interference on my part. Mike, as always, due to his big heart, big body and valor in battle, remains in complete control of the entire front sofa. (Both came out totally unscathed....)
I offer up this story, at once, to all of you, (this just happened last night!) revealing my shortcomings in testing my equipment, in hopes that it will give that extra jab to recheck yours and hopefully reduce the number of heartpounding moments that I am ever so happy to have behind me.
PS This is my first year owning a trailer but during this time, this place has been where I have spent three to four days of every week and is very familiar to me. I have seen only one very small bear for about 30 seconds in all that time. Also when this occurred, I was doing a one nighter, brought no food with me and everything already in the trailer was dried or canned. All I can guess is the heat brought him down looking for water, then he maybe he was looking over the other options at the checkout stand.
I would love to hear what other campers have been through and how they dealt with it....

Carol Clarke

cclarkego is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2009, 07:21 PM   #2
Rivet Master
Gene's Avatar
2008 25' Safari FB SE
Grand Junction , Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 10,814
Thanks Carol for telling your story and telling it very well. Nothing like that has ever happened to us. It does confirm that my decision not to sleep with the windows open is a good decision.


Gene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2009, 07:23 PM   #3
I love Airstreams...
Commercial Member
leefields's Avatar
1989 29' Land Yacht
Haines City , Florida
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 285
Images: 4
Smile glad.....your safe....

i will bet your heart is still just a beating away...glad your safe...
1953 Spartan Mansion

Ram 3500 DRW LB SuperCrew
PCS Professional Coach
AIR# 6366
leefields is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2009, 07:23 PM   #4

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , WNY
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 10,802
Images: 1
Hell-of-a forth post, glad no one was hurt, two or four legger's.

ps..You write good Girl
AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
ROBERT CROSS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2009, 07:42 PM   #5
Rivet Master
AirsDream's Avatar
1999 23' Safari
Perrysburg , Ann Arbor
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 914
Yikes! I've had quite a few bear encounters (both black bears and brown / grizzly) while fishing, hiking, camping, etc. But none in the Airstream - yet. Seems to me you are very lucky.

You obviously did a lot of the right things under extreme pressure, but most of it didn't seem to discourage the bear at all. I have bear spray, but have my doubts about its effectiveness - yours seems to have malfunctioned, and of course that did no good at all. I wonder if the dog(s), noise, arriving vehicle, etc. scared the bear off, or whether he just got bored and took a stroll.

Most of the professional guides I know have learned to expect trouble in bear country, and for most, their prescription is a 12 gauge pump stuffed full of slugs. But a wounded, not-dead bear is a fearsome creature indeed, and a point-blank shootout with a bear would at best be a chancy affair.

I think you were very lucky indeed.
AirsDream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2009, 08:14 PM   #6
4 Rivet Member
1972 25' Tradewind
Madison , Wisconsin
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 396
Sounds like an "interesting" evening. As a former dog trainer the one thing i focused on was that you noticed the elevated pitch of your voice. That will stress a dog.

What does a puppy do when it is stressed? It lets out a high pitched yelp for help. Sometimes people excite (stressed excitement) a dog when trying to sooth it because they raise the pitch of the voice and talk like we would to a human infant.

There is a very good chance that the presence of the dogs had a lot to do with ol Smoky leaving. Bears are not be fans of their cousins the dogs. Especially since there was more than one dog.

I for one am relieved to hear of your escape. Brown Bears are nothing to get into a p!44!ng contest with.

Now your AS has unique battle scars as opposed to the oops dents most of us have; and you have one H of a "war story" to tell for the rest of your life.
Smokin Camel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2009, 08:16 PM   #7
Just an old timer...
85MH325's Avatar

Tipton , Iowa
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 4,015
Images: 37
Great story, well told!

A whole bunch of years ago... more than I care to confess... a good friend and I stayed in a campground on the east side of Yosemite someplace on the back side of Monitor Pass, we were regaled of a story of three hunters up from L.A. in a pickup camper. Apparently they'd put a slab of breakfast bacon on the block of ice in their ice box. During the night, a very large brown bear decided that bacon smell on the dripping melted water smelled like breakfast to him too... so... at 3am or so, he used his paws to open their pickup camper like a sardine can, shredded the built-in ice box, and had himself a bacon feast. Of course the three intrepid campers were sound asleep and awakened quite rudely by the rending of metal camper siding... all three fled through the back door and were quite uninjured (except for their pride). The trio reportedly packed up and headed back to L.A. in their damaged camper as soon as the bear left.

Campers (regardless of construction) really don't present much in the way of a barrier when a determined bear wants in.

AIR 2053 Current: 2006 Born Free 32 RQ Kodiak Chassis, & 1995 Coachmen B-van
Former Airstreams: 1953 Flying Cloud, 1957 Overlander, 1961 Bambi, 1970 Safari Special, 1978 Argosy Minuet, 1985 325 Moho, 1994 Limited 34' Two-door, 1994 B190 "B-Van"
85MH325 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2009, 08:16 PM   #8
4 Rivet Member
1972 25' Tradewind
Madison , Wisconsin
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 396
One more thing, I agree with what was said about a point blank shoot out with a Browny. A chancy affair even with a well chosen firearm. Though if you did a penetrator round (solid nosed, thick jacket) as opposed to a shocking round (hollow point) would serve you better against that type of critter.
Smokin Camel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2009, 06:08 AM   #9
Site Team
Lily&Me's Avatar

2006 22' Interstate
Normal , Illinois
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 10,784
Good Lord!!! Glad you are safe!
🏡 🚐 Cherish and appreciate those you love. This moment could be your last.🌹🐚❤️
Lily&Me is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2009, 06:34 AM   #10
Rivet Master
mello mike's Avatar
1958 26' Overlander
Mesa , Arizona
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,742
Images: 53
Scary stuff!!! Glad you're all right. My wife had a close encounter with a bear as a child and that's the main reason why we longer tent camp. Of course, if a bear wanted to he could open up an Airstream like a sardine can, but at least it affords you a little protection and time to grab a firearm or repellent or call for help.
1958 Overlander
2011 Wolf Creek 850N TC
2011 Ford F-250 Crewcab (6.2L), 3.73RE

WBCCI #5661/AIR #5661/TAC # AZ-6
4CU 1st VP

My '58 Overlander Restoration and Travel Blog:
mello mike is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2009, 06:38 AM   #11
3 Rivet Member
redstart's Avatar
1998 34' Limited
ont , Ontario
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 228
Images: 3
wow what an experience!!! the fact that that bear was still interested in you even with two dogs barking at him through the window is a litte unnerving!!! glad you and your doggies (dog-guardian angels) are safe!!!!
redstart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2009, 07:15 AM   #12
Commercial Member
eubank's Avatar
1967 30' Sovereign
Los Lunas , New Mexico
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,333
Argh. And we sleep right next to a big screen door every night smack in the middle of bear country.

Oh, yeah, we've been "visited" before, but they didn't make it into the house or into any rigs here. Thankfully, the house is no longer in the path that leads from the mountains to our west towards the village's old outdoor garbage storage area. (They now store it in an enclosed building before it's hauled off.)

Still, no longer having our two canine early warning alarms, maybe we should make an effort to find our firearm. It's around here someplace. And someplace else are some bullets, too.

WBCCI 21043
eubank is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2009, 08:18 AM   #13
Chief Chili Cook
newroswell's Avatar
2010 30' Flying Cloud
Bakersfield , California
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 738
Originally Posted by Smokin Camel View Post
if you did a penetrator round (solid nosed, thick jacket) as opposed to a shocking round (hollow point) would serve you better against that type of critter.
When the arms came through the window screen, I would have emptied the first clip of S&W .40 pausing only long enough to switch to the second clip.

Ojai's about 120 miles from us. Beautiful area.
newroswell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2009, 09:35 AM   #14
Mouse Nest Hunter
RoverOwner's Avatar
1961 28' Ambassador
Sherburne , New York
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 160
Not in the Airstream, but had one visit us at out cabin in the Adirondack Mountains this past weekend while we were out on the boat
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC02002.jpg
Views:	168
Size:	423.0 KB
ID:	84090   Click image for larger version

Name:	DSC02003.jpg
Views:	187
Size:	289.1 KB
ID:	84091  


RoverOwner is offline   Reply With Quote

bears, defense

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
West Bear Country flyguy Boondocking 52 07-16-2009 03:41 PM
Bear vs. Sheep Wayne&Sam Off Topic Forum 4 04-25-2009 09:23 PM
Help - MH Can't climb hills swebster Mechanics Corner - Engines, Transmission & More... 76 06-11-2008 08:17 PM
Climb To The Clouds Vintage Car Weekend-Mt. Washington rgesch WBCCI Rallies & Events 10 06-30-2006 11:12 AM
Where and how to climb on top of an AS freud Our Community 3 11-23-2003 03:47 PM

Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:43 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.