United States
Footbridge, Chimney Tops Trail

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    • Day 129

      Fall colours

      October 11, 2023 in the United States

      The last part of my trip was about seeing the fall colours. Certain parts of America are famous for their glorious colourful displays of foliage. I ended up renting a car and doing a road trip around national parks and forests.

      First the Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, through which passes the Appalachian Trail. I found myself near Dollywood, Dolly Parton's theme park. I didn't want to go alone but I did make it to her restaurant, Stampede, which provides a full meal and cowboy & horse show which was spectacular.

      Accommodation costs started to be a problem for me. I slept in the car, but it's not allowed in Tennessee unless with permission on private property. So, I still had to pay between $50 and $70 per night for a site in campgrounds. I did begrudge this amount because it was cold and uncomfortable but at least it was safe.

      3 days were miserably, stressfully and expensively consumed trying to help Addison who quit and left the ranch, unpaid, with lies and accusations hanging. She found herself penniless and homeless in a nearby town without any sources of help or transport out of there. Eventually, between Addison, myself and Brandy (now back in Texas), we got the little lady fixed up with seemingly a great opportunity (including accommodation, education & training). After questioning myself daily why I had come to the ranch, and why I was staying, I realised it was so that we (Brandy & I) could be there for little miss. This meant more car camping rather than hotels, which if I had planned for would have been better with proper supplies.

      Another car rental, lots more driving, little bits of walking..... Partly because it was getting a bit cooler and I no longer had a coat, and partly because I have replaced my fear of horses which a rational fear of bears. This is all bear territory.... Signs everywhere, 'Be bear aware!', What to do if you see a bear etc.... Well the top 2 things NOT to do are precisely what I would instinctively do....freeze/whimper or turn and run. So, I was hyper vigilant with every 10th tree trunk taking on bear qualities. So my walks were short and sweet.

      After the constant company and tension and exhaustion of the ranch and the aftermath, I felt free and pleased to be doing my own thing again. And the colours were stunning, more golden than red.... The panoramas were magical, another bucket list item ticked off.
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