Most people who've lived in or visited Alaska for any length of time have some sort of war story about a bear; an encounter from which, if they're lucky, they emerged unscathed: A bear charged them while camping or fishing. Their dog got into a fight with a bear on a hiking trail. A bear ate their kayak while they recorded it on their iPhone.
I'm no bear biologist (obvi), but as far as I can tell, bears in Alaska are kind of like gigantic raccoons who, unlike their more diminutive closest relative on the evolutionary tree of life, are way less cute and will straight fuck you UP if you get crosswise with them.
My most memorable bear war story is not nearly as glamorous as most people's, but it's rather befitting my entire modus operandi in life, and thus worth a brief retelling.
Ironically, we had just returned from a weekend at a cabin in the woods where we had encountered zero bears. Geoff was showering, the kids were doing fuck knows what, and I was washing our camping dishes in the kitchen sink, which overlooks our back deck.
I am too short to actually see the back deck and stairs from this vantage point. However, my ears work at all heights and suddenly I heard a very loud ruckus that sounded like a large, heavy, mobile object of some kind barging through the woods behind our house and up our back stairs.
Being a child of urban upbringing, I briefly considered this could be an intruder and my heart began to beat wildly as I dragged a bar stool over to the window so I could ascertain the source of the noise. I climbed up on the stool, opened the window, and stuck my head out.
There before me was a large, panting black bear lumbering across our deck and marauding through the recycling we'd carelessly left out over the weekend. We're usually really good about securing our garbage, but it appeared our ursine friend had waited for the one and only moment in a decade when our guard was down, and we left a partially-open bucket of empty Coffee Mate containers and Adams crunchy peanut butter jars outside in the middle of summer.
I screamed like a sonofabitch and the bear briefly looked up at me with a nonplussed expression on his/her snout before going right back to rifling through trash like it was his job, which of course it kind of is.
My whole family came running and at that moment, I jumped off the stool backwards and in so doing violently twisted my right ankle.
"THERE'S A BEAR ON OUR DECK!!!" I yelled, grabbing my right foot and hopping around the living room on my left. "WHEREWHEREWHERE?!" The kids ran to the window as though I'd just announced the arrival of Santa Claus. Geoff rolled his eyes and told me to calm the fuck down. Clad only in a towel, he proceeded to shout loudly at the bear, who finally gave up and left, apparently having decided there was nothing tasty enough to merit remaining on our property while being excoriated by a large, hairy, intimidating human version of himself.
I whined about my injured foot and limped over to the freezer where I grabbed a 16 ounce bag of Costco frozen mixed berries and placed it on my ankle. Only in Alaska can you go to a cabin in the woods, see not one single bear, and return home only to find a bear on your back deck like some kind of unauthorized VRBO house swap.