Authentic Inquiry Questions based on Observations: The Wonder of the Wooly Bear

Fenix holding a wooly bear caterpillar in his hand earlier in the fall.

We have been finding wooly bear caterpillars all over the yard for months. My boys love picking them up and carefully holding them in their hands. My youngest described their long, thick bristles (setae) as “scratchy.” This week he brought the banded wooly bear caterpillar to his eye and asked, “why are these caterpillars so sleepy?” 

There it is: an authentic question generated in context by a learner themselves. Authentic questions reflect what learners genuinely wonder and worry about. Authentic questions reflect what genuinely piques learners interest and holds their attention.  In a lot of ways, authentic questions are the best pathway to science education and nature exploration.

I asked, “well, what do you think? Why might the caterpillar be tired or moving around less?” He thought for awhile and said, “Maybe he is tired. Maybe he is cold and tired.”

When we went back inside, I pulled up the resources on Exploring Nature. I also pulled up an article or two online. I read the description of the wooly bear on the site and articles and asked the question back to my boys, “So, why do YOU think Wooly Bear caterpillars are so sleepy? What might be the reason?” 

Getting the correct answer was not the point. The point was treating their inquiry seriously, and providing them with potential sources that they could synthesize and draw conclusions from and discuss. Then, the next day we discussed the wooly bear life cycleand put the life cycle diagram in their nature journals. 

Eventually, we did talk about the cold weather, the decrease in food sources, and the slowing down and sleep of animals that hibernate. They think it is all very cool. I do too.

Giant Hands-On Habitat Posters

Some of Exploring Nature’s latest & greatest activities include these amazing giant poster building activities:  The Amazon Rainforest,  The Deciduous Forest, and The North American Prairie.  

Both my 3-year old and my 5-year old loved interacting with these posters over the weekend. Besides the discussion around what the animals are and where to find them in their habitat, the cutting and manipulation of the cut out animals was excellent fine motor practice. 

What I think my boys loved most was the large scale format. The posters are designed to print on 4 different sheets of 8×11 paper, and then you pull them together to form a giant poster which can hang on a wall or remain a tabletop activity. 

The animals must be cut out. Then, they can then be pasted for a finalized poster or kept loose to place over and over again in the animals prime habitat. 

This activity is a great way to build fundamental understanding around animals in their habitats and the layers or zones in which they live. They also provide opportunities for cutting, matching, and pasting. I highly recommend these for home or classroom use. 

I’ve spoken to Sheri and she is still in the process of creating more habitats! Yay 🙂 Currently, the three habitats featured are: The Amazon Rainforest,  The Deciduous Forest, and The North American Prairie.  Stay tuned for more habitats and fun.

Exploring Nature with Kids

Hello and welcome back to Exploring Nature. Our incredible founder and lead creative, Sheri Amsel, has invited me to share my experience with Exploring Nature resources in the hopes of inspiring and creating value for this wonderful community.

As a mother of two and former school principal (aka I’m obsessed with growing children’s skillset and curiosities), I am grateful for the depth and breadth of resources on the Exploring Nature website. Though I have been a subscriber for nearly a decade, I have become more reliant on the resources since the pandemic hit New York last March.

Like a lot of other parents, the pandemic has presented a paradox.

On one hand, it has been scary, sad, and just plain stressful to deal with so much loss of life and uncertainty. But on the other hand, the pandemic has given me an opportunity to reimagine how I spend time with my children and what role I play in their education.

Access to Exploring Nature’s resources have become essential, and have provided my family a lifeline during these challenging times.

Through activities that I have downloaded and accessed on Exploring Nature, my children are growing their academic skillset and science muscle, and also their love and sense of responsibility for taking care of the people, animals, and environment in which they live. It is truly magical and makes me feel, dare I say, lucky.

Moving forward, it is my intention to share some of our favorites in the hopes that by doing so we will inspire new adventures and discussions among this special community. Thank you for supporting Exploring Nature and for the work that you do building the world’s capacity to understand and enjoy science, nature, and so much more.

With love & nature,


Stacy & her two junior explorers on a lovely morning hike

LIFE CYCLES: Growth and Development of Organisms – Grade 3 (NGSS)

All living things (organisms) have a life cycle. Different organisms may have very different kinds of life cycles, but they all have these in common: they are born, grow up, reproduce and die. They need to reproduce or they will go extinct. So, what kinds of things have organisms evolved in their life cycles to survive in their habitats?
Mammals are born singly or in a small group. They are small and helpless at birth, but they have a much higher survival rate than other groups of animals. How? Because their parents feed and protect them until they can survive on their own. Some mammals are born into a nest, den or burrow that is prepared and guarded by their parents. Other mammals are born into their mother’s protective pouch (marsupials). Mammals often teach their young how to find food and escape predators before they grow up and go out on their own.

Birds share a similar start as mammals, except that they start as eggs and are kept warm and protected until they hatch. Hatchlings are small and helpless. Their parents will bring them food and keep them warm and safe. Bird parents will stay with their young until they can fly (or run), avoid predators, and find food on their own.

Amphibians and reptiles lay many eggs. Amphibians lay soft eggs in the water, while reptiles lay leathery eggs on land buried in sand, soil or plant debris. Both usually leave their young to fend for themselves when they hatch, though some species, like the American alligator, watch over young for a time. Only a few hatchlings survive.

Insects lay many, many eggs, but most of their young do not survive to be adults. Insects have two very different kinds of life cycles. Some undergo incomplete metamorphosis. This is when young insects hatch from eggs looking like miniature adults, called nymphs. As they grow, they shed their hard outer layer, called an exoskeleton. Each new size is called an instar. They have 5-6 instars before they reach their adult size. Insects that go through incomplete metamorphosis include: grasshoppers, crickets, preying mantises, and cockroaches. Many insects, however, go through a complete metamorphosis. This is when new hatchlings, called larvae, look completely different from adults. They feed and grow until they reach a certain size and then form a protective cocoon or chrysalis. Inside their chrysalis, they go through a process called pupation. During pupation, the body breaks down and changes into the adult form. Insects that go through complete metamorphosis include: moths, butterflies, ants, beetles, and bees

The Next Generation Science Standard for this topic in 3rd Grade is:
LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
• Reproduction is essential to the continued existence of every kind of organism. Plants and animals have unique and diverse life cycles. (3-LS1-1)
Try some of the activities to help students understand these important concepts.

Download the whole bundle from the science store for a complete Growth and Development of Organisms UNIT.

The African Savannah

The savannah makes up the central part of Africa in a band across the continent and down the middle into South Africa. Some of the countries with savannah are Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, and South Africa. These grasslands range from desert grass plains to those of trees and bushes. The veldt, typical of the interior of South Africa, is more of a vast area of treeless grassland. Together, this open country is home to many of the world’s largest land animals. The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world, but it cannot run that fast for long. The lions hunt differently than the cheetah. Members of the pride work together to scare a herd of grazing animals, while a lionesses hides in the tall grass waiting to ambush a passing zebra or gazelle. When the animal is dead, the lions take turns feeding on it and guarding it while others in the pride rest or go off to drink. Jackals and hyenas are mostly scavengers, feeding on animals that are already dead. Waiting until the big cats have eaten their fill, the jackals and hyenas move in to eat what is left over. They may even scan the sky for circling turkey vulture, other scavengers, that signal an animal nearby has died. Sometimes a big group of hyenas will steal a kill from a lion or kill an animal themselves. With few trees to slow them down, animals can run great distances on the veldt. The ostrich’s seven-foot height and good eyesight give it a great advantage in seeing predators from far off. If danger is spotted, it runs! Animals on the veldt often travel in large herds. The more there are to watch and sniff the air for danger, the safer they are. That is why it is not unusual to see herds of ostriches, zebras, gazelles, and wildebeests traveling together. Living in groups is also a good way to search for food and teach the young. The termite is one of Africa’s smaller animals, but it builds its home so large that they can be seen all across the savanna. The dung beetle builds its round nest in the droppings of other animals. Then it lays its eggs inside. As the offspring develop, they eat their way out of the nest. A common bird of the savanna is the weaverbird. Using long stems of grass, they weave great hanging nests. On the ground the secretary bird, named for its black-and-white suit and quill-like head feathers, hunts for mice and snakes to eat. From above, the brown harrier eagle circles, scanning the hot African plain. As always, life here is a race to find food without becoming someone elses meal.

Hunting the Little Red Dragon

Another seasonal resident has just started to show itself above ground, slinking along through clumps of moss and ferns. The little red efts or newts. It is always exciting to spot the first ref eft of the season and, to be honest,  I never tire of finding them.
When my kids were small, we called them the little red dragons and finding them was a cause for celebration (hey, when you’re entertaining small children, you find any excuse for a party, right?).
When the red efts first come out of the water after their metamorphosis from gilled tadpoles, they are less than an inch long. They then grow up to be about 4 inches long ambling along on delicate toes – four in front and 5 in back. Their bright orange color will fade to green later in their lives.
My kids once asked me if they were red because they were hot – which made me laugh at the time, but, in truth, their color is a warning. Their skin exudes a mild toxin that makes them unpalatable to predators.
Eventually red efts will go back to the water to mate and lay their eggs, but while they’re on land we will enjoy hunting them in the underbrush or helping them across the road.

Color a Newt: LINK
Draw a Newt: LINK
Newt Movie: LINK
Match and Color the Salamanders: LINK

Spring Finally Peeps

After a very long winter that stretched its icy fingers well into April, I was very relieved last week at sunset to hear the sound of spring peepers.

The first frog of spring, these tiny amphibians are very loud for their size (1-1.5 inches long). If approached in their wetland habitat, their calls are so deafening and resonate, you can feel them like a tickle in your neck and scalp. Even stranger, despite their powerful calls, you rarely see them anywhere. spring peepers are remarkably well camouflaged and at close inspection go silent before you can locate them.

If you are lucky enough to spot one, you will note a light X on their tan backs, which accounts for their species name “crucifer” – which means “cross bearing”. Spring Peepers are well adapted for their habitat with tiny suction pads on their toes to help them cling to plants.

Only the males sing. They are nocturnal and will sing all night, searching for a mate. After mating the females lay their eggs in the water attached to an anchored plant. The tadpoles that hatch out are bigger than the adult frog.

Listen to a Spring Peeper Here

Learn to Draw a Spring Peeper

Color a Spring Peeper

The Secret to Surviving Winter

So it’s March 24th and the official start of spring has come and gone. When I looked at the thermometer this morning and it was 4°, I got to thinking about how cold, snow and ice affect our sense of well being.

In the fall, after a summer of warm sun and nurturing green, the first cold snap and snowfall are pleasant signs of the change of seasons and the coming of family gatherings. I am invigorated by daily hikes with friends and Silas – our fat, happy dog.

Then I start to snuggle in to cook soups, bake bread and work long hours on illustrations. The freezer is full and the top of the cabinets are lined with canned tomatoes and grape jellies put by from the garden, their colors pleasing and their presence enhancing a sense of safe, warm comfort. The dropping temperatures seem a natural progression and I look forward to getting a lot of work done and catching up on reading novels and other hobbies. I pull out wool hats, long underwear, snowshoes and skis with anticipation.

A couple of years back, I set up my small workshop under the grow lights where, in the spring, my seedlings would be started. The theory was that the full spectrum grow light would help me see my projects while staving off the cabin fever that always seemed to rise in February for me. My secret to surviving winter, as such.

This year’s project is to build a fairy house for my future grandchildren (the first of whom is due at the end of March). I collected fallen birch bark, seed pods, pine cones, and other interesting stones and bits from the woods all summer and set down to build a fantastical little world for the small children that would be coming into our lives.

My husband built a frame and I began to glue pine cone seeds on the roof as shingles while listening to music, Silas sleeping at my feet. I bound sticks with twine to make tiny brooms and used birch bark as siding. One morning I came down to find tiny chairs and a table that my husband had built in his own workshop. A few days later a tiny ladder appeared leaning against the eaves of the house. There be fairies here…

As the fairy house grew, I began to worry who would inhabit this tiny kingdom. This was no home for Lego men, action figures or Barbie dolls. I looked online and found all kinds of figures from small farmers to fairies in gossamer wings. None seemed quite right. But I kept framing tiny windows with bits of wood and constructing a kitchen table and chairs with sticks and bark. Window boxes made of fungus were glued in place and a chimney of pebbles went on the roof.

Then in February, I started to feel that familiar sense of claustrophobia that always seemed to come after many months inside. It had been below zero every night for several weeks and the snow banks were shoulder high. The treacherous ice on the trails was beginning to seem a personal affront. I was tired of wearing spikes and snowshoes everywhere. I hated my wool hat and wanted to break my ski poles over my knee. I turned off the grow light and left the fairy house. I cooked a massive lasagna and froze batches of oatmeal cookies for my husband, made sure there was enough dog food and flew to California to visit my sister.

San Francisco in February is sunny and 65°. The neighborhood gardens are blooming and the smell of their blossoms is heady and rejuvenating. I walked and walked and walked winding through impossibly steep neighborhoods that have never even seen a frost. I stopped now and then to stare off at the Golden Gate Bridge across the bay and marvel at the weird contrast between the view of mountains back home and the view of the heavily developed San Francisco Bay area – still breathtaking but in a different way. That first week, I didn’t worry about my husband or dog much or think about the fairy house at all.

We shopped and sat at outdoor cafes sipping cold drinks watching stylish people walk by. We drove to Point Reyes and hiked the cliffs and then the beach, the sound of the waves ever present and soothing. Her puppy ran wild, tossing into the waves, greeting people, digging in the sand. I understood how she felt. The warmth of the sun and the smell of the ocean were like some kind of magic working its way into my muscles and bones. I wondered if my husband was taking Silas out and skiing. I found a tiny seed pod that would look good in the fairy house garden and put it in my pocket.

My brother drove up from LA and we traveled up the coast to visit the redwoods. We wandered among the giants with awe, their bulk turning the noon sun into twilight. It was hard to see them without feeling a mixture of wonder and shame. The idea that we cut so many of them down is hard to take in. I thought about the scale from Redwood to human to fairy house.

We walked Scott’s pack of dogs on the rocky Eel River and I found a round, flat stone for the tiny fairy walkway and slid it into my pocket.

We drove further north and watched the dogs run with abandon on the wide expanse of beach north of Eureka. We found sand dollars and odd crustaceans I had never seen on eastern beaches. I picked up an interesting shell that would make a artful fairy salad bowl. I breathed in the sea air deeply and felt myself whole again. Then I realized that just as my sense of needing to get away had crept up on me at home, my need to get back to my own pack was becoming hard to ignore. I knew it was time to go.

Back in San Francisco, my sister gave me a little gift before I left. I unfolded delicate tissue to find tiny mice made of wire and wool, dressed in little hats and jackets. They were adorable and exactly the right size to sit at the kitchen table that was waiting in my fairy house back home. Hmmm….

Coming home was still a bit of a shock admittedly. It was still hovering around zero even though it was early March and the woods were icy and treacherous. We went for a hike up a small mountain behind our property and it was frigid and slippery with ice flows pouring over every cliff. Ice flows form when a seeping spring pours out layer after thin layer of water that freeze on the rocks and build up into what looks like a beautiful frozen waterfall. They can be cloudy or filled with colors – brown, green or blue and are quite lovely close up. Despite their beauty, I was anxious and cranky as I stumbled and slid on hidden slicks of ice, regretting having stubbornly left my spikes at home.

My husband kept climbing up, never looking back to see if I was ready to turn back – a technique that over the years he’s found effective for keeping me going. Silas ran back and forth in total bliss, smelling deer tracks and looking back at me to see why I was not running with glee, like him. It was tougher going for me. The crusty, untrustworthy snow kept giving way every third step plunging me shin deep into the snow. I scrambled on disgruntled about the cold and the mean spirited branches that kept snapping in my face with stinging accuracy.

But then something shifted, as it always does while walking. I started to feel warm. My muscles started to feel stretched and humming. I could almost feel those magic endorphins flow into my bloodstream and I started to feel happy and kind of powerful. The view began to appear through the trees behind us showing snowy mountains and the sparkle of Lake Champlain in the distance. It was a stunning sight. I looked out at it and sighed contentedly. I was sweaty, cold and longing for spring, but I was home.

And there were mice that needed to move into their fairy house.


Getting Close and Personal with Wild Things

I have been telling stories about my brother, Scott, who has spent many years traveling around as an exotic animal veterinarian. Every once in a while I will go along to take pictures, hold tools and generally ogle the amazing creatures Scott repairs. Several years ago, I accompanied him to Ruth’s compound when he went to consult on a badger, named Digger, who had issues with car sickness (Who knew badger got car sick? Maybe its from reading the map while driving?).

We went into Ruth’s trailer and I sat at her kitchen table while she and Scott discussed “Diggers” tummy troubles. Suddenly, I felt something sniffing at my shoes and a wet nose went up my pant leg. I looked down. There was a skunk standing on my foot.

“Um…guys…” I said.

They didn’t notice.

“There’s a skunk making advances on me,” I said loudly.

“Oh, that’s alfalfa,” Ruth said.

She reached down and picked her up and set her on my lap.

“She is my bed buddy.”

I stroked alfalfa’s back tentatively. It was the softest fur I’d ever felt. Alfalfa pushed her tiny face into the crook of my elbow and rested comfortably. I was quite taken with her.

“Ohhhhhh, she’s so sweet,” I crooned. “Does it hurt them to be de-scented?”

“Oh, she’s not de-scented,” Ruth said.

My hand froze over her back.

“Does she spray?” I asked, quietly.

“Only if I roll over on her in my sleep.”


Later, I met Bonkers, a small black bear. He was lying in the shade of a pine tree when we entered his large, wooded enclosure.

“Bonk,” Ruth called.

He slowly sauntered over and hopped up onto a metal spool. Sitting on his butt, he was eye level with me.

“You can pet him,” Ruth said, feeding him sandwich cookies. “Just not on the nose, ears or under his chin.”

I patted his back. His fur was long and rough – not like the skunk’s at all.

Ruth said something to him and he leaned over and blew in my ear. I giggled hysterically, partially from how it tickled and partially from nervousness. There was a black bear blowing in my ear, after all.

Scott snapped a picture. Then the bear licked my neck thoroughly with a long pink tongue. I tried to keep a straight face, as Scott was getting all of this on film.

It was remarkable really. Having the bear that close to me, I started to feel this sense of woozy complacency. I wanted to lay my head down on his back. His tongue was incredibly long.

Suddenly his nose found its way into my ear and I flinched and squealed. Click click, all on film. Great.

As we were heading back to the car, one of the grizzlies came running over and Ruth greeted him.

“Alyoop,” she said and gave him a cookie. She turned to me. “Want to meet him?”

I nodded. I wasn’t sure what meeting a grizzly actually entailed.

“Lean forward over the wire with your hands behind your back,” she instructed.

She motioned and Alyoop came forward. He was hard to take it in, his head was so huge.

“Say hello, Alyoop,” she coaxed.

He came toward me and opened his huge mouth.

“Spit in his mouth,” she said to me.

“Huh?” I said dumbly and looked at Scott.

Scott nodded at me encouragingly.

“He looks hungry,” I said.

The bear’s ears twitched.

“Go on,” Ruth said. “It’s how bears get to know each other. Like cats smelling your breath and dogs sniffing your hands.”

I looked at Scott. “Did you do this?”

He nodded, smiling, his eyes twinkling with amusement. I made a mental note to KILL him later. He was enjoying this way too much.

I leaned in. Alyoop opened his mouth wider. I tried to spit. Suddenly, I realized that my mouth had gone completely dry. Alyoop was waiting. I was trying to make spit. My heart was pounding so hard that I thought cardiac arrest was imminent. I realized that I would never be able to spit.

“I can’t…” I said, embarrassed.

“Just kiss his tongue,” Ruth suggested, kindly. She must see this all the time.

His tongue was about the size of a dinner plate. It was pink with black mottles. I leaned in and kissed it. He sat back, sniffing the air and yawning. Ruth popped a cookie in his mouth.

I stepped back, my legs like rubber, my stomach fluttery, and my face flushed. But I was alive and had just kissed a grizzly’s tongue. My day was pretty complete.


Chapter 12: Bears on The Job

In August 2002, Dr. Scott Amsel worked as “Vet on the Set” for an American Express Commercial. The production company hired Ruth LaBarge and her family of bears for the commercial. Scott’s job was to stand by with a tranquilizer gun – in case things went sideways.

The idea behind the commercial was that the bears would approach the tent, in which a celebrity was camped – in this case Jerry Seinfeld, who would offer a comical diatribe about his credit card.

The bears Ruth used for the commercial were three grizzlies – Barney, Betty and Whopper.

Each of  the bears have their own personality. Barney and Betty were tightly bonded to each other and often sat side by side holding hands. Whopper was larger and tended to dominate the other two, bullying them like a big brother might.

Betty and Barney cuddling.

Ruth knew that Whopper needed to be “fixed” because he was starting to bully Barney and Betty more aggressively. During a break in shooting, she talked to Scott about coming out to her facility to do the job after the commercial wrapped. It became apparent to Scott, after watching the bears interact, that this was not a moment too soon.

Whopper takes direction from his trainer.

Ruth trained her bears using a hot wire, which gave them a boundary they respected from an early age. As adult bears they would never approach the wire even if it wasn’t turned on. The wire was portable and represented a real boundary for working with these huge bears. On the site of the commercial, the wire was strung around the perimeter and would later be “blown” out of the film anywhere it showed up. At any time during the shoot these half-ton bears could be only a few feet from the camera crew on the other side of the wire.


The one concern that the trainers had about the hot wire was that the bears had to see it for it be effective. If they were distracted, they could accidentally go right through it. It was apparent, by their relaxed attitude, that the film crew didn’t think there was any danger involved with filming grizzlies. Scott, however, was on high alert and held his tranquilizer gun like a fly swatter against a bull moose. He soon got to see first hand how silly his “fly swatter” actually was.

The incident happened in between one of the shots. Barney found a spot of salmon juice on the ground about three feet from the camera crew and sniffed it. Whopper moved in to push him off it – in his typical big brother style. Then, in the blink of an eye, the two huge grizzlies were fighting. Fights among hand raised bear siblings can be a lot like two family dogs fighting in that they often look and sound much worse than they are – a lot of sound and fury. The one significant difference though is that grizzly bears are the size of small tanks. So its best to get out of their way while they resolve their differences.

The fight was short, about ten seconds, but their cavernous mouths flashed huge, razor sharp teeth and they roared and snapped at each other. When the brothers moved back to swing their giant claws at each other, they came within inches of a half million dollars worth of camera equipment and a terrified movie crew.

The trainers carried pepper spray, lead chains and a wooden cane, but nothing could stop two grizzlies if they were determined to fight. The key was to calm everything down without getting too close. Ruth got in front of them and waved her arms to get their attention. The other trainer yelled for everyone to freeze. If the camera crew began to scream or run away the bears might become agitated and the fight could escalate.

Then, just as suddenly as it started, it was over. The silence afterwards was broken only by the sound of a lot of panting humans. Scott had not even had time to raise the tranquilizer gun. The bears, for their part, went serenely back to following their trainers. The crew took a short break to get cold drinks (Scott joked that they probably had to change their underwear). Then the commercial resumed filming. Scott noted that the tenor of the film crew was different afterward. They now realized that these were not trained dogs. They were huge, wild grizzly bears.

Later that afternoon, while Whopper was resting in his trailer, Ruth took Barney and Betty to exercise in a field up on a hill above where the filming was being done. They set up another hot wire perimeter to let the bears romp and burn off excess energy. These two bears were close and loved to play together. Betty was especially excited and was bouncing all over the place. She ran at Barney and made a playful swat, then took off toward the top of the hill. It looked to Ruth and Scott as if she had just done a “tag your it.” Betty was so excited that she then ran right over the hot wire at the top. Ruth realized too late that the wire was slung too low to be an effective barrier for the excited bear. Betty was now loose and was running at full speed.

Grizzlies can run as fast as racehorses for short distances and Betty was having a good run. The trainers took off after her and Scott came around the other side of the enclosure with the tranquilizer gun. As he topped the hill, he saw Barney, standing stretched up to his full eight foot height, looking off in the distance after the quickly receding Betty.

Without thinking, Scott put his hand up toward Barney and said in his best dog owner’s voice, “STAY!” Then he ran over the crest of the hill in pursuit of Betty. Later Scott thought of that moment, when he’d told Barney, a half-ton Grizzly, to stay as if he were a beagle, and laughed.

“I was watching Betty run down the hill toward the equipment trucks and was in a kind of “catch the bear” fugue state. Since Barney actually DID stay, maybe it helped after all,” he shrugged sheepishly.

Scott noticed a truck driver standing outside one of the trucks in Betty’s path. He was a big guy, with a Harley cap and impressive tattoos – the kind of guy you might give your side of the sidewalk to. When he saw Betty barreling down the hill toward him, however, he leaped headfirst into the cab of his truck, his large muscular legs dangling out the door. Scott would never have imagined a man his size could move that fast.

When Betty reached the line of production semis, it was like she suddenly woke up and realized she was not where she was supposed to be. She stopped next to one of the trucks breathing hard and looked around. She had been running with abandon and pleasure but now she was winded and confused. Barney was nowhere in sight.

It’s hard to say what she would have done if left on her own at that point, but just then Ruth came into sight and Betty approached her and stood so Ruth could put her lead chain around her neck. There was a lot of relief to go around as Ruth calmly led Betty back to rejoin Barney.

It had been a very long day with bears.

Betty kisses Ruth after a long (and exciting) run.