I grew up in Southern Maryland. My dad and stepmom lived near DC. I went to college in Baltimore. And I spent many of my adult years living on the Eastern Shore. So, I’m pretty familiar with most of the state. I’ve also made countless trips from Maryland to or through West Virginia… on I-68 through Western Maryland. And, for YEARS… really, for decades… I’ve been making fun of this sign on I-68 just after you cross the WV/MD border:
Anyone who has ever traveled with me on that stretch of interstate has heard me exclaim something like this:
“Oh yeah… Maryland wildlife… make sure you watch out for all of those BEARS!!!” And then I would roll my eyes and chuckle. I’ve been doing this for DECADES, People. Making fun of this darn sign that I thought was a completely inaccurate portrayal of Maryland wildlife.
I’ve spent the last week vacationing in Garrett County, Maryland… not far from where that sign is posted on I-68, actually.
Here are some pics from in/around our vacation rental home:
And, the first day we arrived there, I noticed a framed newspaper article on the kitchen counter… featuring a photo of a deck that looked much like the one on the back of the Bear Vista house. Only, there were THREE bear cubs crawling on this deck. So, even though that photographic proof was right there… and I spent the week surrounded by every type of stuffed, ceramic, or wooden bear known to man… I still didn’t REALLY believe that there were black bears roaming casually around Deep Creek Lake.
Yesterday morning, my husband and my brother-in-law were yammering on and on about spotting a bear. Nick claimed to see one down by the fire pit. AJ saw one in the woods behind the house. The two boy geniuses actually took off through the woods WITH FOOD, trying to bait this so-called bear that AJ saw. And, still, I was skeptical. (Oh, and luckily, they weren’t successful in chasing down the bear… so they’re both still with us today!)
Then, yesterday afternoon, I was gathered around the dining room table shucking corn with my kids, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law, and my niece… I was sitting on the end of the table, near the open sliding glass door, when my other sister-in-law walked up to the other end of the table (facing the door) and pointed and exclaimed: “THERE. IS. THE. BEAR!!!!!” I looked over, and sure enough, mister black bear was just taking a little stroll through the backyard… mere FEET from where we sat.
Seriously… one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. Of course I ran for my camera… and then ran out on the back deck trying to get a picture of this creature. But, he had already made it to the tree line by the time I was ready and all I got was a black picture. Darn it. We all gathered at the windows and on the front deck, watching the bear make his way through the woods by the house. And, even though we returned home yesterday, so I wasn’t there to witness this… I’ll just about guarantee that Nick’s family had Bear Vista locked up tight as a drum when they went to bed last night!!
So, all this to say that I will never, ever again make fun of that darn sign on I-68. I have seen the Maryland wildlife with my own two eyes… and I will “watch for it” from now on!