Tale of the $700 Smoky Mountains Selfie

If you find yourself hiking through Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, don’t be alarmed to see a black bear with a camera slung around its neck.  You see I recently passed through the area, and share this tale of the $700 Smoky Mountains selfie for all to learn.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I was in the Smoky Mountains for a quick trip to Dollywood (arrived Friday afternoon, departed early Sunday morning) to check out their holiday offerings throughout the resort.  My schedule was jammed-packed, but, being a fan of the National Parks, I couldn’t get so close to one of those brown arrowhead signs without stepping through the gate.  I arrived in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee at 3:30pm and had an hour to spare until the official schedule began.  Brilliant!  The Smoky Mountains entrance was just down the road.  The park called to me, and I could not resist.

First stop, the Gatlinburg Welcome Center/National Park Information Center to ask for directions.  They directed me towards the Gatlinburg Bypass, and noted two scenic overlooks very close-by.  Perfect, 45 minutes left! I still had time.  Off I drove!

Just down the road was the official Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance sign.  Of course, I needed to document my location, and entrance sign photographs were useful identifiers for my travel writing.  I could stop quickly and still have time to get to the overlook.  After a quick camera snap, I sat the camera down and grabbed a selfie to post on social media – a $700 selfie.  “Look at me! I’m in the Smoky Mountains! Follow along on my holiday adventure at Dollywood!”  Aaahhhh! Look at the time! 3:55pm! I needed to hurry to get to that scenic overlook and make it back to Pigeon Forge for my 4:30pm appointment.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Back in the car… zoom down the road… there’s the overlook.  I’m ready to jump out and take in the panorama of the Smoky Mountains.  I’ll grab my camera, that’s right here under this map… Gaaahhhh!  My camera!  Oh no! I left it at the National Park entrance sign.  Door shut, belt clicked, gas pedal engaged, please be there… please be there… please be there.

I motored down the road as fast as I could.  Please be there… please be there… please be there.  There’s the entrance sign on the other side, and the pillar where I set the camera.  I could already glimpse from the distance, no camera in sight. Perhaps a black bear strolled by, stuck his head in the shoulder strap, and sauntered on down the road.

Alas, there was no bear to blame.  There was no creature or person to blame but myself.  I checked back at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center, but nobody turned in a camera.  I left a lost item report at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park headquarters, but heard no response.  I’d like to think a Good Samaritan turned in the camera at a ranger station or park office.  However, with a park the size of the Smoky Mountains, it could have been dropped off at any of the numerous visitor areas.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Here’s the lesson I took away from my mishap.  I need to slow down, not be so distracted by social media, and try not to do too much during my visits.  I had no identifying name/address tag on the camera, nor did I take a photo of my contact information to store on the memory card.  When I get my replacement camera, you better be sure I’ll mark it and not make the same mistake.  Fortunately, I’m meticulous about downloading photos from my camera, and did not lose any of my images.  The camera is a thing that can be replaced, those memories are not.

Have you seen a camera floating around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?  If so, leave a comment below… 😉  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on Twitter and “like” our Facebook page, too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.