It might surprise you that I've only been to Gatlinburg twice in my lifetime. No joke. I went when I was 16 and then again in 2007.

I love that whole area, but I just haven't been back. No reason. But I will tell you what stands out to me in my memories of the Smoky Mountains.

Bears.

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Now, it's not because I've seen any in person, thank the good Lord, but it's because of ominous SIGNS about bears that you see when you're there. For example, how many warnings are there around eastern Tennessee about keeping a firm lid on trash receptacles and dumpsters and how it's not a good idea to let small children GO to those dumpsters by themselves? They give you pause, but then again that's what warnings are supposed to do.

Also, there are plenty of videos detailing encounters with the ursine scavengers.

Why, our good friends, the Jerry Morris family, had their very own black bear encounter they documented a few years ago. And then there was the family from Newburgh that could've had a bear cub arrested for breaking into their car.

And who can forget that near miss with the roller coaster last summer?

But that's just it. Those are all GATLINBURG bear stories. That's where you expect to find them.

You don't expect to find them in, say, Meade County or central Kentucky. And you CERTAINLY don't expect to find them in southwestern Indiana. I mean, while it's weird that they'd make their way this far into Kentucky, at least EASTERN Kentucky would make sense for bear sightings.

But, yeah, southwest Indiana is still dealing with that black bear as it continues to roam free and rummage through folks' garbage cans in Vanderburgh, Pike, and Warrick Counties, according to Eyewitness News (WEHT-WTVW).

That's why residents are being urged to secure garbage containers so that the bear won't be a recurring and unwelcome visitor.

Look, with more frequency I HAVE been seeing the kinds of wildlife I didn't use to see around here. Just the other day, a coyote ran across Highway 231 behind me. I saw it in the rearview mirror. I know we've always had them around here, but I never used to see them like I do now. But BLACK BEARS? Really?

Well, anyway, I have to wrap this up. I'm having dinner with Goldilocks at this cool little porridge joint, and I'm running late.

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