Thank you so very much, Lee, for making landfall on the Gulf of Mexico side and deciding to make just a tropical nuisance of you. So instead of a hurricane, we only have pouring rain. Upside of it: Almost nobody else is in the National Park, leaving Smoky Mountains National Park more or less to us alone. The downside is that road conditions suck a bit. Fallen leaves and fresh, pouring rain make for a slick-ish surface….and where tourists don’t want to come out, most animals do take a rain day off as well…plus the National Park is sporting lots of smoke, i.e. fog, certainly living up to its name…and screwing up our long distance sight. But we are used to that from our trip to Washington State last year. Shame about the lack of butterflies though.
But turkeys. Lots and lots and lots of wild turkeys of the non booze variety. Got a few really nice pictures of them, they were out in full force, making sure to end up on my digital memory card…even though a few of them mistook me for a real redneck and tried their best to make it on our roadkill surprise dinner plate. Took some creative breaking from my side…and a speed limit of 25 mph to let them gobble-gobble another day.
Wasn’t only them turkeys though, we also saw a few white-tailed deer, grazing peaceful in the rain. Icing on the cake though was a small black-bear cub, about the size of a 4 month old golden lab puppy, playing in the middle of the road in front of us. Little guy rolled around, tried to catch his own feet and had a heckuva great time, we just stood there in our car….but when I reached for my camera, he decided to head up the knoll again into high grass…and was gone in the meadow, much to my dismay, I would have LOVED to have a few pics of him to just look at, he was a cute little critter.
At the next Visitor Center, about 500 yards down the road, we told a Ranger about or sighting….who sent his wife out to make sure that nobody ran over the little guy. Stands to reason that he stayed behind, it was raining outside after all, and talked to us about the problems the black bear population would run into this year (no cherries at all, most berry varieties with low or almost no yield, all hopes’d be up for the acorns…) and about the little cub we saw, one out of three with their mother living right in that meadow, sort of the mascots of that visitor center…us being the first to see either of them in three days. Small wonder with the sheer number of cars traveling through the park this weekend. Have I mentioned already the level of grrrrrrrrrrrr labour day weekend brings when you decide to make a road trip with about half the East Coast population???
Late lunch at the local Hard Rock Cafe, another baseball cap for my collection, a Harley Davidson t-shirt from the local store…and now we are back at the hotel, deciding on extending our stay for another night to, well, take in more of the tourist trap that is Gatlinburg and surrounding area. And no, I will not talk about the quilt Mel bought. Nu-uh.