Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is a dreadful tourist trap, of a peculiarly religious stripe, but it was a fun jaunt anyway. The cabin was gorgeous, if decorated much like Pigeon Forge itself.
Being used to camping, I was not bothered by the mice inhabiting the place. I fear no mouse. One of our friends was a little alarmed by mouseness, but most of us were cool with it. S'just a little mouse.
And we were able to handle the giant bald-faced hornet that showed up in the kitchen. Hey, these things happen. You're in the woods. Great Smokey Mountain National Park is just down the road. Sure, there was bobbing and ducking and whooping of terror, but eventually, the beast was slain.
Wolf spiders? Eh, we've got those at home. Not a problem.
The scorpion in the sink rather threw me, though. Who knew Tennessee even had scorpions? That one had to go, too--most bugs, I'm fine with catching and putting outside, but a little too much potential danger there.
"What's next?" we asked each other, amused. "Snakes in the cupboards? Badgers under the bed?"
And then James was in the bathroom, attending to neccessary bodily functions and his wandering eye fell on the light fixture/fan vent over the toilet.
A tail slithered down between the slats and coiled there.
Pinned in place by the call of nature, James watched as a snake, perhaps eight inches long, curled and wiggled inside the fixture.
It was impossible to ID from that angle--my guess is small corn snake, but we can't rule out copperhead, so we didn't mess with it. The next morning, it had slithered out by whatever hole it slithered in from, and other than another scorpion, that was the end of our exciting menagerie inside the house.
Gorgeous scenery, great national park. Saw five black bears and scads of deer. Good birding, too, particularly for warblers--added Blackburnian, Orange-crowned, Black-throated Green and Magnolia warblers, along with the pileated woodpecker and wild turkey. The Blackburnian was a score, although it was getting out of the gorgeous mating plumage and looked pretty motheaten--they live mostly in tree-tops, so they're hard to spot unless you're in a cabin like this one on an overlook. The Orange-crowned was also cool--despite the name, they're a very drab, boring bird, and I had to work it out by process of elimination on the fieldmarks.
Also ran into the problem of the Epidomax flycatchers. This is a set of virtually identical birds that can only be told apart through gruellingly careful observation, and it helps to have a line-up. I think what I saw was the willow flycatcher, based on size and nearly non-existant eye-ring, but I'm not sure enough to count it.
Overall, a good trip. Even with snakes in the bathroom.