Tuesday, July 1, 2003 — 7:12 pm
Oneida County, Wisconsin — Route 17 at Cross Country Road
Sal and I took the girls to Paradise, Michigan for three days, then spent two days in Rhinelander hanging around with the Weddles. On this night, Beth watched the four kids while the four adults went to the White Stag for a steak dinner. After eating, we drove into Rhinelander to rent a movie and get some ice cream.
As I was driving the CR-V south on 17 (just north of Cross Country Road), I spotted an animal walking across the road about 400 yards in front of the car. My first reaction was that it was a deer. (I’d had about seven run out in front of me during the day.) But immediately I began wondering. I called out to draw everyone’s attention.
The animal was walking slowly, and it wasn’t walking like a deer. Its legs were thicker and its neck stuck straight out in front. I asked, “Is that a bear?” Everyone one encouraged me to drive faster, and I did, but whatever it was kept on walking and disappeared into the trees along the road. Someone said it might be a dog, but we were all excited enough to be disappointed that we’d missed it.
When I got to where it was last seen, I slowed way down. There was a lot of traffic on the roads, but right at this point things cleared out and nothing was coming from either direction. I rolled along and we all looked off into the boggy brush. We soon came to a dirt road, and there, about 20 yards off the highway was a half-grown Black Bear. It was facing away from us, but when I stopped, it looked at us over its right shoulder, then immediately jogged off at an angle into the woods away from us.