A Goodbye to My Friend Bear Vasquez, The “Double Rainbow Guy”
GUEST POST BY SHAWN SALEME
Bear Vasquez passed away yesterday after a number of years of poor health. Bear was a virtual friend of mine for 5 years. I had first seen him through the Couchsurfing networks and groups of Yosemite, where he lived and then I saw him interviewed on Broke-Ass Stuart’s Kinda Late Show in 2015 and it made me want to meet him even more than I had already as a fellow active couchsurfer. So I contacted him about coming to stay at his place sometime.
I almost did stay a couple times in Yosemite, yet it ended up working out that I stayed in the valley instead of where he lived an hours drive out from the park. Our communication and friendship continued virtually for the next 5 years and as I reflect upon the messages Bear and I shared with each other, I could see he was such a generous being. His generosity of spirit was consistently displayed by his involvement with the Couchsurfing community, his reviews on his Couchsurfing profile, and the testimonies of those who came to help-exchange and work-trade on his land. And of course in his videos as well. I didn’t watch his videos too much, because really, I just wanted to meet him in person and become his friend in real life.
I had a feeling about Bear a couple months ago. I am not sure what made me think of him, maybe I was thinking I would like to get to a beautiful part of the planet such as Yosemite after all of COVID was over. I looked him up and saw some of his most recently posted videos. They showed a sad Bear slumped in a wheelchair in an apartment, sometimes crying, his body slowly flowing. He had love from his family to help him transition there, but I still felt for him and knew he had to be missing his farm.
As I corresponded with him, he mentioned to me he was fine and protecting himself, but his last year was hell for him because he had trouble walking.
I wrote to encourage him a bit as I would any friend, mentioning that there were many who loved him around the world – one time he got flown out to Iceland by a group of high school students, and had a ceremony in his honor (see him getting crowned “Guardian of the Student Body” at 13:57). I let Bear know I was here to help him if he needed stuff moved at all and that I wanted to visit him after this was all through. While he couldn’t host me as he had to thousands of travelers before, he said we could meet up for sure.
I recalled him on Broke Ass Stuart’s late night show in 2015 saying he would schedule some of his videos to be published in 10 years and that he started doing it a few years ago.
That thought had provoked me then and I mentioned it to him again in our chat. I asked if he still made videos to be published 10 years out. His reply was this:
I pretty much can’t walk anymore, I publish lots of videos set into the future. Some are one year, some two some up to ten some more than ten. I have hundreds and hundreds of videos set to publish and will continue to do this as long as I can, I’m not slowing down anytime soon.
I plan to come back and watch myself and wake myself up with my videos.
Here’s Bear talking about it:
His videos are being published now and there will be new ones tomorrow, and the next day and the next year, decade, generation…maybe even century? In his memorable immortal video he sent to me, he says he’ll be here.
And according to Bear, he is here with us. And will not go away anytime soon. We are going to see him on Youtube for years and years to come…And children will search “rainbows” on Youtube and probably see Bear and his double rainbow video that became one of the original viral videos in the history of the internet.
I started to cry when I learned he was gone. I guess I felt it was coming somehow, just by watching his recent videos. And like an animal in that double rainbow Yosemite valley that is aware its death is imminent, Bear knew his body was going to expire soon too. One of his videos that was posted a few days ago shows him just breathing, taking in his view on his land. He was at peace knowing he was coming to close. He wanted to go there and pass away there, and he did so for as long as he could before getting to a hospital where he finally died.
Yet, after a bit of sobbing, my tears quickly turned to loud laughter as I knew his soul would live on. And I showed his appearance with Broke-Ass Stuart to my girlfriend, and we laughed and then I watched some of the videos he sent me over the years. I was quickly reassured that he will be here in a very close way to the existing relationship I already had with him, and his death wasn’t something to cry about too long because I can still see him for years to come, and laugh and commune with him. He has, as he said, achieved immortality. His yet to be published videos and the future, yet to be born humans, who will watch Youtube videos about rainbows, will keep Bear around for the long run.
I guess my virtual friendship with Bear will keep continuing.
Thank you Bear for your great spirit, laughter, sadness, joy, realness, honesty and the gift of your life. See you again somewhere, sometime, over the rainbow.
OH MY GODDDDDDD DOUBBLLEEEEEEEEE RAAAAIIIINNNNBBBBOOOOWWWWW!!!!!!
You can watch all of Bear’s videos on his Youtube Channel right here.