The Night in the Nash Rambler!
The 1956 Nash Rambler pulled into a campsite at the Golden Beach Campground on Raquette Lake in Upstate New York. A young man got out from the driver’s side and opened the door for his pregnant wife. It felt good to stretch their legs. They had just completed the four-hour drive to Raquette Lake from North Adams, Massachusetts.
The expectant mother’s parents had arrived the weekend before and set up camp. They were staying at Golden Beach for two weeks as was their summer custom. In earlier years, when their three children were younger, they had regularly camped at Eighth Lake Campground. One year, for a change of pace, they’d tried Golden Beach and discovered they liked it much better. It was because of the beautiful golden sand from which the beach got its name.
Erwin and Eileen had become quite expert at camping in the Adirondacks. The cabin tent was set up under its rain-fly for added protection against the sometimes heavy north woods rains. Erwin had dug a trench around the tent to drain any rainwater away from the tent and send it downhill toward the lake. There was a dining-fly over the picnic table with the Coleman gas stove and kitchen box positioned at one end. The ice box with the perishable food items was stored at the side of the tent under the protection of the rain fly. There were four folding lawn chairs in a half circle around the fireplace in anticipation of the campfire and conversation that would undoubtedly occur later that evening. It was a very comfortable and happy campsite.
When the Rambler pulled in at the site, it was early evening. Erwin and Eileen got up from the game of Rummy they were playing and went to greet the young couple. After hugs all around, Eileen led her daughter to one of the lawn chairs and made her comfortable. Erwin led his son-in-law on a tour of the campsite. The young man, an engineer by profession, was impressed with the setup; especially the trenching system to shunt off rainwater. It was quite a professional looking job.
It gets dark quickly in the Adirondacks, and soon the campfire was merrily crackling away as the four caught up on events occurring since their last visit. The baby was due in early July, just a few short weeks away. Eileen fussed over her daughter, making sure she was taking good care of herself. She was. The young woman was a nurse, after all.
The young couple laughed about their apartment in North Adams. It was an attic apartment, and they joked that the bathroom was so small you could sit on the toilet and soak your feet in the tub at the same time. They were going to have to find something a bit bigger once the baby arrived. It was a pleasant and happy Adirondack evening. As is so often the case when having a good time, time flew by and it was soon late.
Erwin excused himself and went to prepare the icebox for the night. There are a good number of black bears in the Adirondacks so every night, Erwin suspended the icebox out of bear reach between two nearby trees by attaching a rope to its handles. The young man offered to help, but his father-in-law declined. He had his system down pat. So, the young man got up and went over to the old Nash Rambler. He and his wife did not have a tent, so it was convenient that the Rambler’s front seat folded down to make a reasonably comfortable bed. The icebox was secured, and good nights were said. Eileen and Erwin headed to their tent, and the young man made his wife comfortable in the Rambler. Soon everything was quiet, and the happy family settled down for the night.
The young woman opened her eyes.
Bash! Bash! Thump!
What in the world is that she wondered? Reaching over, she shook her husband to wake him up.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Listen,” she replied.
Thump! Bash! Thump!
The young man sat up, bumping his head on the roof of the Rambler.
“What the hell is that?”
The young man crawled forward and got the Nash Rambler’s ignition key off the dash where he had placed it the night before. Putting the ignition key in the switch, he turned it one click and reaching for the light switch, turned the headlights on.
There, standing directly in the path of the Nash Rambler’s headlight’s beams, was a huge black bear standing on its hind legs. It was furiously batting at the icebox with its forepaws. While the icebox would have been out of reach for most bears, this was a pretty big fellow; and he wanted the icebox’s contents in the worst way.
Bash! Thump. Thump! Bash!
With each swat, the icebox swung wildly on the ropes that supported it, tied to its handles. The young man thought it was incredible that the handles were still attached! Trying to figure out what to do, he finally beeped the Rambler’s horn. The bear stopped and looked toward the car. After a second, the bear again turned his attention to the icebox.
Thump! Bash! Bash! Thump!
The young man laid into the horn this time. The bear again stopped, but this time after giving the Rambler an extremely disgusted look, ambled off in search of a slightly more accessible food source. The campsite was quiet once more.
The next morning after the four had cooked and eaten breakfast, the young woman assisted her mother in doing the dishes and cleaning up. Erwin approached his son-in-law.
“That was good thinking last night. We weren’t sure what to do. I thought about trying to chase the bear off, but they can be pretty unpredictable, and that was a pretty big fellow. I decided we were safer staying put in the tent and letting him have the food.”
The young man laughed. “It was the only thing I could think to do. I’m glad it worked!”
“By the way,” Erwin went on, “Do you want to take a drive into Old Forge with me? Since you parked your Nash Rambler behind my car, you can drive. We are in need of a new icebox.”
Did you enjoy this Adirondack Bear Tale #2?
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