I was thinking today about the first time Marilyn and I visited the Smokey Mountains. I remember that I was excited because I had never been there before. Marilyn said that she had visited there as a youngster with her parents.  As we headed south-east down the highway, with the radio playing the oldies station, I was wondering what kind of birds and other animals we might see in the mountains.   I turned the radio up.
     "Rollin', Rollin', Rollin' on the river"  we sang along as the oldies station boomed from the speakers.
     "What will we see?" I wondered aloud. "Do you think we will see a bear?"
     "I don't know, maybe." she replied.                                      
     I had never seen a bear in the wild, so I was very much hopeing to see one.
     About six hours after we left home we arrived at the hotel. It was a nice place in Gatlinburg that overlooked a mountain stream. A very pretty stream. We rested for a short time then decided to take a ride into the mountains, to find a trail to hike. Marilyn was at the wheel as I was looking around to see something, I don't know what, just something unusual.
      "I wish I would see something I've never seen before."  I said as she drove the mountain road.
      "There's a bear!" Marilyn exclaimed.
      Believe it or not, at the very moment that I wished to see something I had never see before, a bear walked across the road just thirty feet in front of us. It was surreal, almost like a dream. My mind could not grasp the fact that a wild bear just walked across the road in front of us. I'll never forget it.
     A mile or so up the road we stopped to get out, where we encountered an older couple, who were enjoying the scenery.
     "Did you guys see that bear down there?" I said while pointing down the road.    
     "Bear?"  "We've been comming here twenty five years and have never seen a bear." the man said while looking at us as if he didn't believe us.
     We traveled on down the road and not more than twenty minutes later saw a mother bear with two small cubs following close behind her. The mamma bear came to the road then looked around  to make sure the young ones were following. She gave a loud grunt, as if to tell them to be carefull. Their ears perked up as they gathered closer to mamma, then they all crossed the road right in front of us.  
      It was amazing. We had not been in the mountains more than a couple of hours and had already seen four bears. What a day!   After an enjoyable dinner we walked the streets of Gatlinburg, going in the various shops, buying a few little things, and talking about the things we had seen that day. Back at the hotel we settled in for the night. I tuned the radio to a local station.
      "I Can't Stop Lovin' You"  Ray Charles wailed as we fell asleep.            
      Early the next day, I think it was a Tuesday, we headed back into the mountains.  We drove many miles, there was a lot to see that we can't see in Cincinnati. I especially liked seeing the wild Rhododendrons.  Something caught my eye, I thought I saw something in the deep part of the woods. I thought it was another bear, I was not sure.  We pulled the car over to get a better look.        
      After seeing four bears the day before, we were a little apprehensive about getting too far away from the car. In fact Marilyn would not get out of the car.. 
      "I am going to get out and try to take a picture." I said. "I would like to have a photo of a bear."
      "O.K." she said. "But be carefull."
      "I am going to leave the car door open so I can jump back in, just in case the bear starts chaseing me." I said. I guess I was a little afraid too. So I got out of the car, leaving the car door open. That was my security blanket, the open door.
      I stepped out of the car, took about two steps, then heard the door slam shut. "What the #*&&%^".  I turned around, knocked on the door and asked her why she did that. She said she was afraid a bear would get her. I quess I was on my own. Bear bait. Oh well, we both survived. There were no more bears.
     The next day we headed back home. It was a good vacation. Heading up the highway toward Cincinnati we decided to return to the mountains some day, which we did a few times.  
     On the way back home we searched the radio for something good to listen to. We must have been in a bad spot because the reception was terrible. But through the static I could hear Frank Sinatra singing one of his biggest hits.
     "The best is yet to come, and won't that be fine." Frankie Boy was singing. Singing like he really meant it.
     As I was driving, I looked over at Marilyn. She was falling asleep in her seat.            
     "Yes, the best is yet to come"  I sang along with Frank.