If you have been following my  “I grew up in the mountains story”,  you know about my snake stories.  The other wild animal I seem to attract is the black bear.

If you have ever met a bear on the trail, on your deck, by your pond, or getting in your garbage, you will know that you don’t always have time to grab your camera and snap away.

My first encounter happened on a childhood camping trip in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove.  Black bears were notorious for foraging in campsites looking for leftover dinner morsels and trash.  On our after dark trip to the bathhouse I ran ahead of  my friends and came within inches of running into a large black bear.  I did an immediate about face and ran back towards the campsite screaming Bear! Bear! Bear!  Of course the kids scattered in all directions.  After telling my father and the other adults my story, my father said calmly, I think you just thought it was a bear.  He later told me he believed my story, but  was concerned about the kids scared reactions and the pandemonium that broke out after I ran screaming back to the camp.  It took me a while to get over that one.

The second real bear encounter happened in Cashiers, NC.  I had just picked an armful of dahlias from my garden, carrying them back to the house through our garden path.  I was putting them in water when James ran into the house saying, “there is a bear out by the pathway.  James and our 14 pound yorkie had been standing next to our car when he saw the bear walking down that same path.  He grabbed Abbey, threw her into the car, then ran into our home to warn us about the bear.  Immediately he ran back to the car as he realized the car windows were down and that Abbey would not hesitate to jump out of the car if she knew about the bear.    I did manage to capture this bear on video.

My third story involves a bear and lots of garbage.  I was sitting on our screened porch after dinner, enjoying the mountain air with a glass of wine and my favorite Abbey.  I heard what sounded like the garbage being picked up.  Lots of chinking of bottles.  I could not see our garbage area.

Fire on the screened porch NC mountains photo by Kathy Miller

 I  grabbed Abbey and went into the house.  The only place I could view the garbage area off the carport was from my bathroom window.  I peered out the window and saw a large bear trashing several large garbage cans and garbage bags.  Beer bottles (from a weekend party) were rolling down the driveway.  I called my husband, Dave in Florida to ask, ” What do I do???”

As a child sitting around a campfire, my father  always told me that a fire would keep wild animals away.  I also remembered in the Old Yeller  movie the family built a large fire to keep wild animals at bay.  I ran to the laundry room and grabbed the sparklers left over from our 4th of July party.  Keeping Dave on the phone line, I moved up the stairs to our guest bedroom, with its own deck.

Camp Chimney guest room porch overlooking the gardens photo by Kathy Miller

 I lit a couple of sparklers and threw them down to the garbage area.  The bear ran up to the the hammock area just off the balcony dragging a garbage bag with her.  I lit a few more sparklers throwing them into the clearing.  Dave was telling me from Florida, “Don’t burn the forest down.”  I said, “Don’t worry, it is starting to rain!”  The bear did not like the sparklers and ran off into the woods.  Even though I was relieved the bear had departed, I knew I could not leave all that trash lying around on the carport.  With Dave still on the line I lit more sparklers and laid them on the carport while I frantically picked up the trash.  I told Dave,”If you hear me scream call 911.”

  I have had many more bear encounters, but have learned to live with the bears.

Miller Bear by Cashiers artist Karen Weihs photo by Kathy Miller

This bear, painted by Cashiers artist Karen Weihs hangs in our home.

Bears and PBR!

My father’s preferred drink was a tallboy PBR.  Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.   The Hambrights, Kennedys, Lovetts and Smiths spent many 4th of Julys, Labor Days, and camping trips celebrating together.   We saw a few bears together on those camping trips.

Hambrights, Kennedys, Lovetts and Smiths bb&b club reunion photo by Glenn Kennedy

One October the kids, now grown, decided to throw a party celebrating our family friendship.

We called it ye olde BB&B reunion.

Hambright, Kennedy, Lovett & Smith kids photo by Glenn Kennedy

I will let you guess what the BB&B stands for.  I believe Holly has a PBR tallboy in her hands.

Over the years I have collected PBR paraphernalia in honor of my father.  My favorite is an antique PBR bench found in a tiny store in Walhalla, South Carolina.  My friend Robin and I were antique shopping and she said, “Kathy you just have to buy this.”  It was not cheap.  I tried to negotiate  the price, but the proprietor would not budge.  We left the store.  Robin finally talked me into going back to the store and paying full price.  We did.  We loaded it in her van and took it home to our porch.

Robin & Kathy on the PBR bench on screened in porch photo by Kathy Miller

To this day I have not told Dave how much I paid for that old bench.  It is priceless!

PBR Bench photo by Kathy Miller

July and vacation time is almost over.  It’s Football Time all over the country, but especially in the South.

Watch for upcoming stories from my tailgating travels.  I welcome your comments, recipes and any inside information on your favorite tailgating spots.

Come celebrate with me.  I’ll save you a seat at the table.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2024 Kathy Miller. All Rights Reserved.

Website Design and Developed by PMCJAX