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Unforseen Hazards of Working Remote

One of the great things about working remote is that I can work anywhere I get a decent 4G signal. Like my spot on Wednesday morning right next to the beautiful Merced River in Yosemite Valley, snuggled in a grove of 100 year old Ponderosa Pines.

While I’m currently in California, one of my clients is on the East coast, and I have a daily call with them at 6:30 AM local time. I have to get up pretty early to make sure I can get setup and attend my daily meetings, but I don’t mind as this often means I can get a choice location. This is especially important if I’m working somewhere public like Yosemite (I want the spot with the great view and 5 bars of LTE!).

Wednesday morning was no different. We left the Argosy by 5:30 AM and drove to a scenic location that Heather had found the day before. She had discovered two picnic tables about 20 yards away from each other right by the Merced River less than a minutes walk from the parking in Yosemite village. This sweet spot was to be my office for the day. The fact there were only two tables ensured I wouldn’t have to contest with a crowd, and I was still close to ‘civilization’ in case I needed to grab a coffee or snack at the Village grocery. Better yet, the scenery was something out of a story book. A crystal clear rolling river, huge pines, and 1000 foot granite bluffs that hemmed the river in on one side.

I felt pretty clever for scoring such a fantastic location. I was going to have to brag to my friends on this one. What a great find for my temporary office! I turned my MiFi on, powered up my laptop, and dialed into the first of several hours of Client meetings. Everything was going well. My first call, in which I was an active participant, finished after about 30 minutes. I then dialed into my second call where I was playing more of a supporting role and talking much less. About 30 minutes into the call, an hour or so after I had setup at the site, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. To my astonishment I saw a 300 pound black bear to my left about 20 feet away! I had been focused on the call and hadn’t noticed him approaching at all! I only know it was a black bear because a ranger had informed me the day before that all the bears in Yosemite are black bears, despite their typically brown coloring. The bear wasn’t running, and he wasn’t growling, but he was headed directly towards my picnic table at a surprisingly fast walking pace.

I quickly grabbed my laptop and held my hands in the air to "look big"! By the time I started to back away, the big (brown) black bear was only 15 feet away. If he had decided he wanted me for a breakfast snack, there was probably nothing I could have done. Channeling my inner Bear Grylls (or was it Barney Fife?) I walked backwards slowly… with my laptop in my hands over my head. The bear basically ignored my presence and casually walked towards the table where my backpack was located. My MiFi was still laying on top of my backpack. Then it hit me. I had a granola bar in my pack. Bears have legendary senses of smell, I’m sure he sensed it’s prescense. I was certain my computer back pack was about to meet an untimely demise. I watched with horror as the bear put its two large paws on the table, leaned inquisitively forward, and proceeded to sniff my backpack for what seemed like minutes, although it was probably a dozen seconds or so. At this point I had backed up about 30 feet and I snapped a few photos. (Yes, I realize that is still entirely too close to be to a wild bear.)

As quickly as he had appeared, the bear turned, walked down the river bank, and disappeared into the forest - without eating my backpack of using my MiFi as an appetizer. After a few minutes I cautiously approached the picnic table and confirmed that by computer bag and MiFi were still intact. I did notice my MiFi had several large drops of what appeared to be bear slobber sitting on top of it. I wiped my MiFi on my shirt to remove the bear saliva, and I paused. Did that just happen? I sat there in the ancient wonder of Yosemite, 30 feet from a soon to be bustling parking lot, in a combination

of amazement and disbelief.

The views at Yosemite are amazing and it makes a pretty sweet temporary office, However, I’m pretty sure this is the only time I’ve actually ever been in danger of being eaten while at the office. I can’t be 100 percent sure though, as I did work at a hedge fund for a while… Heather and the kids came back from breakfast a short while after, and I’m certain they would have thought I was making the whole thing up if I didn’t have the photos I snapped as evidence. This world is an amazing place and things happen pretty fast sometimes. I’m grateful for the flexibility of office locale that comes with my work, and that it has allowed me to spend some time this summer exploring the Western U.S. I’m even more thankful the bear decided to eat something else for breakfast that morning, and left me to continue on to our next adventure .

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