Sunday, November 24, 2013

A MOUNTAIN DRIVE

I stuck my head out the front door at 5 AM this morning and promptly pulled it back inside.  Brrrrrr!  The temps were to stay in the thirties today and I didn't particularly feel like being in a boat today.  Had to do something.  I'm on the second day off of three in a row and I wasted yesterday and  didn't want to toss today away too.  I decided to drive on over to Pigeon Forge and get in the traffic sewer pipe that would take me to Townsend where I could get to Cade's Cove.  I figured if I could get to Pigeon Forge early enough I'd not see any traffic and when the handle was flushed on the Sevierville toilet - I'd simply slide down the sewer pipe that carries traffic through Pigeon Forge without any restrictions at all.  It worked out pretty well.
There were a few cars already on the motor road that goes through Cade's Cove but, not many.  The only problem I have with driving through this magnificent place is the constant reminder that it isn't really wild.  Endless cars in front and to the rear coupled with people dotting the fields on both sides of the road are a constant reminder that this was created for tourists.  It's hard to ignore that view.

I swear - if I had Warren Buffet's money I'd offer the Great Smoky National Park 3 billion dollars free if they'd tear this road out of Cade's Cove and restrict entrance to foot traffic.
Above is a rule that is widely ignored, especially by tourists.  They can't seem to resist stopping their cars in the center of the road, jumping out both sides - leaving their doors hang open and, massing down through fields with cameras in hand, practically running, bent at the waste (whatever that's supposed to accomplish) to get as close as possible to the critter, who by now is on alert and deciding whether to run or charge.  If it's charge - the critter gets rewarded by later being shot to death.  The tourist says "wow" and returns to his car looking for more wildlife to pester.  In reality, tourists are responsible for killing more bears than cars.  Even elk are taking the bullet for stupid tourists who should stay in the cities, where they belong.  OK, I'll stop.
Cade's Cove does indeed hold a lot of history about the pioneer days .  There are many charming cabins and even a couple old rustic Baptist churches that maintain the flavor of that early era.  There's quite a bit of interesting history residing in the cove and maybe someday I'll do a piece on it.  Not today though.  Did you know that Cade's Cove was originally Kate's Cove?  Huh?  Do ya care?  Google it.
I thought I might see an elk, bear or some hawks if I got here early enough but alas, there was none of that.  I suspect there are too many cars here this morning for critters of that ilk to stand around in pastures and tolerate it all.
It looks like the hoar frost is on the mountain tops this morning.  It soon will be replaced with snow.  The mountains are gorgeous early in the mornings.  Colors range clear across the color spectrum.  No way can a camera capture more than the simple essence of the reality.
I truly feel that Cade's Cove is the most important, spectacular section of the national park.  As I eluded to earlier, the only downfall is this stupid motor road that allows tourists to drive through this grandeur inserting their colored, motorized baggage into the wilderness setting.  Even with the addition of tourist's motorized litter - the mountains and meadows over shadow the human intrusion in a grand fashion.
I saw a movement to my left and checked the rear mirror to see if anyone was behind.  I was free for a moment of being pushed along by some irate tourist.  I stared at the spot and found myself looking directly at the biggest turkey I have ever seen.  His camouflage was perfect.  All the cars ahead of me drove right on past without seeing him.  They aren't looking.  They don't know how.  The big bird was in the shadows and a tough shot with the camera.
In the shot above, he has his neck twisted around and his beak is preening shoulder feathers.
 Wow, I can't tell you how large he is.  He's beach ball size.
The crop of mast has been really good here in Tennessee this year and there's a lot of food for turkeys and other birds.  And, this is a national park and these turkeys can live out their lives and pass on of old age.
 I saw over 50 white tail deer this morning and have not photographed any until now.  I thought I better at least get a shot or two just for the sake of doing it.
 These deer are very used to cars as can be seen by their demeanor.  They move casually along ignoring the cavalcade moving on the blacktop pathway.


I had forgotten how small mountain whitetails are compared to the deer that live in the valleys and along the rivers.  These deer rely on mast, grasses, berries and the like for their sustenance whereas the valley deer grow hugh feeding on corn, barley and other farm crops that are so prevalent down there.  These animals resemble large dogs more-so than deer.  If the mast crop is poor up here, then their lives are in jeopardy.  Down below, if the mast crop is poor, they move into the farmers fields.  Life is very different between mountain and valley deer.

Oh well - my obligation to present photographs of deer has been fulfilled.  I can relax now.


Below is what happens when ya yell -"HEY THERE. YA, YOU."
 Gets their attention every time.
So, there you have it.  A little ride through Cade's Cove.  Now for the ridiculous ride back through the Pigeon Forge sewer pipe and points East.  I think Pigeon Forge should expand.  That way more tourists would fit and stay in there and out of the forests.  Cynical, you say?   You bet!