Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Bear!

Bob and I have changed from being early risers to enjoying the laziness of staying in bed until 7:00 or even 8:00, but not today! We set the alarm for 6:00 am this Sunday morning and were out of the coach at 6:40. Why? We were off to Cades Cove in the Smokey Mountains National Park.

In the Smokey Mountains, a "cove" is a fairly flat valley between mountains or ridges. This particular cove, according to the brochure, is a "showcase for some of the most inspiring natural and cultural treasures that the Southern Appalachian Mountains have to offer." High praise, indeed. We decided to go early and hopefully see wildlife.

It was dark when we headed out and at one point ended up turning left when we should have turned right, leading us nearly 50 miles out of our way. But you won't hear us complain about that, because while we were merrily tootling along in the wrong direction, we saw a BEAR!
He (or she) was rooting around in the leaves right next to the road and hung around long enough for us to sit there in our car, perhaps 12 feet away, while we took one picture after another. What a thrill! I have never seen one outside a zoo. Later we caught a far off glimpse of another one climbing a tree.

After a kindly couple of walkers told us how to get back to the road towards Cades Cove, we turned around and completed the drive. It's a winding, narrow road to get to the Cove, running alongside a lovely creek. We saw wild turkeys and a deer along the way, and the sun was just peeking over the mountains.
By the time we arrived at the one-way Cades Cove Loop, we could see the smoke-like mist that gives the Smokey Mountains their name.
What a lovely place. The Loop is 11 miles long and provides a look into the past, when farmers worked the land. There are several old farmhouses and three churches along the ride.

We took one more look before continuing on. What a joy it must have been to live in this area a hundred years ago, surrounded with such beauty. We feel very fortunate to be able to see it protected in a National Park for all to enjoy.
Tomorrow morning we leave Pigeon Forge and move on to Heiskell, Tennessee, about 40 miles from where we are camped now.

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