Gulley's Gap. It was almost legendary from the stories that Laura had heard from family who had been there. Gulley's Gap is a cabin outside of Red River, New Mexico. Laura had recently received an invitation to spend summer vacation at the cabin and she was excited but a little apprehensive. Mr. Gulley, the family patriarch, was known for his pranks and Laura wasn't quite sure if his tales about a herd of elk in the front yard and a resident grizzly bear were true.
Upon arriving at the cabin Laura staked out a spot by a window overlooking the treeline. It looked like a good place for a bear to meander down from the ridge and soon it became her official seat in the cabin. Days went by without an elk or grizzly sighting and Laura was beginning to think Mr. Gulley had hoodwinked her.
On the fourth night Laura climbed up to the loft for bed. Just as she settled in Mrs. Gulley frantically cried, "Oh, heavens I forgot to bring in the hummingbird feeders". Laura leaned over the loft rail to volunteer to get the feeders just as Mrs. Gulley drew the curtain back from the window overlooking the porch. The offer never left the tip of Laura's tongue as she stared blankly at the window, trying to make out the image outside. As if in slow motion her brain put the pieces together. . . .big. . . .brown. . . .hairy. Laura's scream bordered between terror and glee. Mrs. Gulley, who was inches from the grizzly with only a thin sheet of glass separating them screamed also, but hers had an angry ring to it. "That's the fourth birdfeeder he's stolen this summer", she yelled to Mr. Gulley, who was just rounding the corner to see what the commotion was about.
As Laura continued to stare, frozen in place, she realized she was gazing directly into the armpit of the grizzly. It dawned on her she could only see one pit because the grizzly was twice as wide as the window. From her angle in the loft, Laura could see he was on hindlegs, holding the feeder like a baby bottle, guzzling the sweet red syrup. As syrup spilled over his face, a giant tongue lapped furiously, savoring each drop of his bounty. Twice Laura caught a glimpse of his teeth and shivers ran down her back. The grizzly, annoyed at the sudden lack of privacy dropped to all fours and ambled off to the side of the cabin. He found a spot in the grass where he was barely visible from the glow of the security lamp, and leisurely licked the syrup from his fur before continuing his late night food forage.
As her vacation drew to an end, Laura packed her bag, feeling somewhat cheated she had not seen even one elk the entire week. Oh, she had looked for them, but could only find an occasional mule deer. Thankfully, she had not found another grizzly. She had seen enough grizzly to last a lifetime. Laura carried her bag to the car and offered to drive on her final trip down the mountain. Everyone climbed in and soon they were reminiscing about the grizzly's visit.
About a quarter mile from the cabin, Laura caught a glimpse of something moving on the right side of the road. Three elk darted in front of the car about forty feet ahead. Laura stared in awe at the magnificent creatures that had eluded her all week. She let the car coast as she watched them gracefully saunter across the road and into the meadow. Laura was so enamored by the elk that she only faintly heard Mr. Gulley say, "Slow down. Laura, slow down."
"LAURA, STOP THE CAR!" everyone in the car screamed in unison. Jolted into action, Laura slammed on brakes and swiveled her head back to the road ahead. She found herself staring into the black eyes of a huge, heavily antlered elk, inches from the grill of the car. Behind him his entire herd strolled across the road, oblivious to the car and its passengers.
Later, as she sat in the terminal waiting to board her plane, Laura's mind wandered back to the cabin in Red River. "This trip definitely ranks as the most awesome vacation ever", she decided. And to top it off, now she was part of the legend that is Gulley's Gap.
Scarlett Farr lives with her husband, daughter and dog in Lizella, Georgia.
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