Wow, come back after a week & LJ goes ‘splodey.

Jeesh, folks, calm DOWN already. LJ made a mistake, they apologized for it, and mistake or NOT, they are within their rights to delete any journal on its service. They’re a business — they own the service & the servers, they decide the rules. Period. The First Amendment only protects you from *government* interference to your speech. Businesses are another matter. You don’t like it, get your own blog software, pay for a webhost account or set up your own server, and do it yourself.

okay. Enough of the short rants.

Gatlinburg & the Smoky Mountains were bloody awesome. Relaxing, sunny, rippling water, breezy mountains, cold streams, tiny fishies, etc etc etc. However, my total cynical faith in the absolute stupidity of the average tourist does tend to get totally confirmed during trips like this.

Case in point: dear husband & I did the Cades Cove thing, twice. For those who aren’t familiar with the Smokies, Cades Cove is a sheltered valley where settlers…um…settled, and many of their log buildings still stand, surrounded by gorgeous mountains and running streams. It’s a GREAT spot for wildlife-spotting: wild turkey, deer, bear, hummingbirds, big swallow-tail butterflies, etc etc, all roam freely in the Cove.

The first time out, we forgot both the camera & the binoculars. So, naturally, that first time out, we came nose-to-snout with a young buck deer, standing so patiently by the side of road & staring into our car window, closerthanthis. Perfect Kodak moment, without the Kodak, dang it.

So the next day, we headed out to the Cove again — the road to there is a lovely drive along a broad running stream with many waterfalls, so we didn’t mind the re-do at all. AND we got well-rewarded. The wild turkey were out in force, complete with tail-displaying males (too far out for a decent picture, but the binoculars more than made up for that). And in the middle of the drive, an ENORMOUS crow (raven?) swooped right in front of our windshield, scaring the hell out of us, only to land on a fencepost right outside our car window. The smartass perched there, preening & cawing, until Brett grabbed the camera and took a couple shots (Barb, methinks the Er Rai was trying to pass a message. :-D).

Towards the end of the drive, we rounded a curve, and head-on into a crowd of cars, all stopped, with people out & with cameras, staring into the woods & the broad field. I spot a fawn & doe out there (“oh, how CUTE!”), somewhat close to the road, but not overly so; it seemed obvious what everyone was looking at. Since we couldn’t move anyway, I get out of the car with the camera, come up behind the closest knot of people…

…and see what everyone’s REALLY looking at.

A mama bear. With her two cubs.


Can you say “OFS?!?!” ? Sure. Knew you could.

Did I get a picture? Hell no — I’ve got a strong sense of survival & equally strong modicum of intelligence. THAT kind of close is WAY too close for anyone, especially when Mama Bear is making huffing noises. After a moment of shock, I said, loudly, “You people are bloody CRAZY” and turned around & got back in the car (“Brett, there’s a mama bear & cubs right there”, “Seriously? Are those people fuckin’ CRAZY??”) & rolled the windows mostly up. And all those people — with young kids & babies & strollers — just stood there, snapping their pics & oohing & ahhing…

…until two park rangers showed up & started ordering folks to back off & get back in their cars.

Oh, damn. I was SO looking forward to a good tale of bear-rampage-among-the-idjit-tourists.

But just as I was giving up that hope, some of those idiots tried to ARGUE with the rangers (“We walked all the way back here! We pay taxes!”).

(Thank gods I’m not a park ranger — I would’ve been like, “Oh, you pay taxes. My apologies. Go right up there & tell Ms. Bear that. Be my guest.”)

Unfortunately…the rangers finally manage to shoo the idiots back enough and get the cars blocking the road to move & clears a good space around the bears. Darn. So much for Bloody Mayhem in the Smokies.

But then one of the rangers turns & sees me & Brett, sitting safely in our car right behind him, with our windows mostly rolled up, waiting patiently for him to give us the “ok” to drive on. And Mr. Ranger smiles, and motions for us to roll the window down a little more, and goes “Go on around the corner, real slow, please”, and we thank him & get the car back in gear…

…and that real slow “corner” gave us a nose-to-snout view of the mama & cubs.

Did I get *that* picture? Oh, hell no. That’s when I realized the roll of film was done, and I wasn’t about to stop like a tourist-idiot & block the road & disturb the mama even more while I changed film.

Yeah. I’m stupid that way.

Up tomorrow: More of the Great Smoky Mountain Adventure tales…

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