Just back from a week with the boys in Smokey Mountains National Park (Gatlinburg, TN).
The first, partial day Noah (27 years old) and I drove into the Park in the late afternoon and a wild Tom turkey was on the road.
The next morning Evan (17) and I headed to a trail head and there, on the road, was a black bear. My first spotting of a bear in "the wild". When it went into the woods, it stopped to roll on its back in the leaves, before disappearing into the moss-covered trees and rocks.
That evening I took a solo walk from our rooms into the Park and a different Tom, and hen, wild turkey were on the trail ahead of me.
The next evening we had dinner with Greenmon and his wife Nancy and then went to see the synchronous fireflies. Most folks gather at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg and then ride trolleys to Elkmont. Hundreds did the same that evening. (Elkmont is where the sychronous fireflies were first "discovered".
Noah (who is disabled by cystic fibrosis) and I had talked to the folks at Sugarlands a couple days earlier and learned that the sychronous displays were really going on all over the area. Understanding Noah's difficulty walking any distances, the ranger recommended nearby Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail, a nice "handicapped" trail.
The five of us set up on beach chairs near dark. The fireflies spent a great deal of time blinking at random. We began to think we were given bad advice. Then we noticed that some fireflies seemed to be blinking in tandem with ones nearby.
Then we were sure that they were getting coordinated.
Soon there were long pauses, with no lightings, and then near simultaneous blinkings.
It made for a very nice evening.
On another solo hike, near dark, I came on a returning family. They told with excitement that a deer was near the trail and then pointed ahead to the doe. She was far enough up Mt. LeConte to probably be related to those very tame deer I've seen on a couple stays at the cabins at the top. (Greenmon had a standing, April 9 reservation for many years.) She paid me no mind as I hiked up beyond her. On my return I sneezed and heard something and looked to see that she was very near me, browsing just off the trail, and just as unperturbed.
Farther down the trail was another doe, also quite tame. (Not as tame as the other, however.)