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  • Writer's pictureDes & Sandie Nichols


As you drive up through the Smoky Mountains National Park, you are quickly made aware that this is bear country. The Smoky Bear character on the signs tells you that,  if one does suddenly appear out of the forest, don't get close or mess with them. Of course, no-one actually sees one - so we thought. 'Where are the bears?'  we flippantly asked a ranger. 'High up on the hills' we were told. 'You won't see them until nightfall'.

On the way round the twisting single lane road, we decided to get out of the Mini to look at the woodland scenery.

It was a surprise, therefore, when your blogger saw movement in the undergrowth just in front of us. 'Sandie, look out...' went the stifled warning, just as a huge black bear nonchalantly strolled out 30ft in front of us. At that moment, a car came up the road and Sandie stopped it and dived head first through their back door, while yours truly put his hand in his pocket and reached for his faithful iPhone. As it happened, Mr Bear had considerably less interest in us than we had in him and he ambled, with an air of majesty about him, across the road and back into the forest. Now that was exciting.

The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee are gentle and very beautiful rather than rocky and rugged. Driving into the middle of the range, we found the remnants of a small community that had lived high up on a plateau until the thirties, deserted 100 year old log houses, grist mills and cattle sheds. 

So the pictures below may give you an idea.  A lovely part of America.

Tomorrow, on the road to the music capital, Nashville.

Black Bear and our Mini

Bats in the beams

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