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Paul Turner: Losing your phone in the woods would be un-bear-able

A brown bear looms above photographers who drew coveted permits to observe the bears as they congregate at the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary in Alaska. (PHOTO BY DOUG KELLEY / PHOTO BY DOUG KELLEY)
A brown bear looms above photographers who drew coveted permits to observe the bears as they congregate at the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary in Alaska. (PHOTO BY DOUG KELLEY / PHOTO BY DOUG KELLEY)

As you know, today is the unofficial start of portable toilet season in the Inland Northwest.

And with that comes the annual question: Where will you lose your phone this spring/summer?

Will it fall into the dark abyss of one of the aforementioned outdoor facilities? That’s happened.

No, don’t even think about trying to retrieve it. Consider it gone. Say goodbye.

Or will it be fumbled over the side of a boat when you are out on an area lake? That’s a regional classic.

But here’s something I’ve wondered. What if you lose your phone while hiking in the backcountry?

And what if some curious bear finds your phone and starts using it?

I know. That’s pretty unrealistic. Without a way to recharge the battery, the phone-possessing bruin wouldn’t make much headway. “Oh look, some hapless human left a useless brick beside this trail.”

Not to mention issues of spotty cell service out in the wild.

But just imagine. What might a bear do with your cellphone? Besides complain about how clunky it is.

A few possibilities come to mind.

Order pizzas and charge it to you. “Could you put some trout on half?”

Call up Google Maps in case he or she got lost in the woods.

Text cousin Boo-Boo in Alaska.

Arrange an all-carnivores Cinco de Mayo gathering.

Look up the actual opening day of Expo ’74 (May 4).

Read some accounts about when Lewis and Clark encountered grizzlies for the first time.

Watch a cub sit slack-jawed in a recliner, staring at the phone screen. “I’m bored.”

Sign up for the Salmon of the Month club.

Drive while growling on the phone, despite the law.

Call his spouse’s phone – assuming she has also found one – when she cannot remember where she left hers.

Read the e-version of the S-R.

Reverse engineer the phone and then launch UrsusTech Solutions, makers of the Mauler brand of personal assistants.

Take pictures of a magpie. “Get my good side.”

Unfriend a grouchy cougar on Facebook.

Email a joke to a marmot who never seems to laugh at anything.

Check on the lodge reservation situation at Glacier NP.

Check to see if Bloomsday results are posted yet, wonder how much faster stroller-pushers might have moved if grizzlies had entered this year. Would little humans want to take selfies with the bears?

The phone-finding bear might change his picture on Twitter, then change it back to the old one.

Destroy the phone in case someone might try to use it as a way to track the location of a secret huckleberry patch and/or pic-i-nic baskets.

Just wondering

Have you ever been leaning over and fiddling with a balky sprinkler head attached to your in-ground system and had it pop off under pressure, releasing a geyser of water right in your face?

No reason. Just asking.

Today’s up-for-grabs prom themes


“No future for you.”

“You’ll probably wind up spending a lot of time working in the garden.”

“Yeah, well, you think that’s important now.”

“If you know your prescription number, press 1.”

“Game of Thrones.”

“Don’t make me pull over.”

“We’re from Spokane – Deal.”

“A number of us will graduate.”

How to tell your Bloomsday story at work on Monday

It never hurts to set the scene by starting with “There I was … ”

Take a step back, to give yourself plenty of room.

Feel free to say, “If you think I’m sunburned, you oughta see … ”

Lead with how you got injured.

In the spirit of Vermont Sen. George Aiken, who famously suggested back in 1966 that we simply declare we had won the war in Vietnam and get out, just go ahead and claim that you finished first in the race.

(In truth, what Aiken actually said was more nuanced than that. But don’t let that stop you from proclaiming victory.)

End note

No need for a show of hands.

But how many of you were eyewitnesses in 1988 when the viewing platform in the back of the lurching Bloomsday media truck came apart near the starting line and spilled photographers and others onto Riverside Avenue, just as the elite runners took off?

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at