An Homage to the California Grizzly Bear

An Homage to the California Grizzly Bear

Not too long ago on my way to work, I drove past a guy standing on the side of the road waving at passing cars, strumming on a guitar. He had the biggest grin on his face and he was standing in front of a sign that read, “Welcome to Grizzly Bear National Monument.”

Bizarre? Yes.

Unexpected? Very.

Eye-catching and thought provoking? Indeed.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me. There wasn’t a chance that I could turn around and grab my camera from home without being way late for work. So I kept driving away with the sinking feeling that I missed out on a great photo and story.

The next week, I see him again. The exact same location, with the same expression and sign. No camera — again. Double missed opportunity. From that day on, I kept my camera in my work bag. I was determined.

A few weeks pass and I don’t cross paths with him again. Could this have been a publicity stunt? Was this person doing publicity for an album or something? No idea. But what I did realize was that the only times I did see him, it was on Thursday mornings. So I at least had that going for me.

And then it happened…

As I crested over the hill where I get a first glimpse of the location he usually stands in, I saw him. I had my camera. I was not running late to work. Traffic was light enough for me to pull over. I cannot wait until I get his story. It is on.

As it goes, his story was beyond my wildest imagination. First off, his name is Joel. He heads up a movement to designate a large area of the Santa Ana Mountains in Southern California a national monument. With that designation, the land and its resources, plants, and animals which live within the boundaries would be assured a thriving place to live. Unbeknownst to me, but there once were California grizzly bears roaming the area. They are now extinct, never to be naturally found in Southern California. Joel and a lot of other partners are hoping to make this area safe for all the remaining plant and animal life.

What a noble cause. I wish him well in his quest. You can find out more and sign up to support the movement at http://www.santaanamountains.org.

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