We enjoyed a fun and adventure filled week, with Wes’ parents, who arrived last Sunday. The first couple of days of the visit, the weather was yucky, so we opted to spend most of our time in the big city of Maryville. However, Tuesday night brought positive changes and we woke up to a world covered in white Wednesday morning! So right after lunch, we headed into the nearby Tremont area of the Smoky Mountain National Park. A winter wonderland awaited us, and as we drove higher, the surrounding scene became even more beautiful! After reaching the end of the road and parking, we suited up and headed out into the world of white. I saw several guys carrying their kayaks towards the upper part of the river, so I quickly went to the bridge. Minutes after getting there, we found ourselves in the middle of a short-lived blizzard. Although it made it very cold and harder to see, it was still beautiful!
We took several photos, and at that point Wes and his dad left us and went to the van. Jeanie and I decided to wait for the kayakers, so we waited . . . and waited . . . and waited. Just as we were about to abandon my mission of getting photos of them, finally we saw a glimpse of bright color in the black and white world, so I got out the camera and got ready. I must say it was well worth the chilly wait, as the photos came out splendidly! As I watched the group of adventurers, I must say I decided then and there to add yet another thrill to my personal bucket list, that being to kayak in the snow! The entire scene was surreal, as the four brightly colored kayaks made their way down the roaring river, and I felt very blessed to have been at the right place at the right time!
We watched them for several minutes before retreating to the warm van. We had slowly started driving back, when I noticed that the kayakers were approaching in the river behind us. So we stopped and watched them, and quickly saw that one of them had gotten his paddle lodged in between the rocks, so he got out of his kayak and crawled out onto the large rock and worked for sometime before finally getting his paddle unstuck. In the meantime, another one of the kayakers had gotten out of his kayak to go back to try and help this one. He thought he had secured his kayak, but alas he had not and suddenly it along with his paddle appeared, both floating down the river at a rapid rate of speed! By this time the other kayaker had gotten back into his kayak, and quickly made his way over the gushing cascades, where he went down and literally rounded up the runaway kayak, and then grabbed the paddle. By this time, we were obviously all worked up from this amazing event!
So we continued our drive back, and suddenly we saw a shadow go over the road. I happened to look back and saw a large Barred Owl land in a nearby tree. “There he is,” I shouted, so we stopped and I quietly rolled down my window and took several nice photos before he flew a short distance and landed at the base of the waterfall. “This day is getting more amazing by the minute”, I said as we watched and waited to see what he was going to do next. Shortly thereafter, he flew up onto another tree limb nearby, where he commenced to preen. It was such an incredibly beautiful experience watching the owl fly silently about, in that winter wonderland setting. Once again I felt tremendously blessed! By that time it was starting to get later in the day so we enjoyed the rest of the drive making our way back home. That evening we enjoyed having friends, Sammie, Fred and Barb over for my homemade baked ziti, and applesauce cake. Afterwards we played Mexican Train Dominoes, and I must admit that we all did more laughing than anything else!
There was still snow the next morning with sunshine and blue skies above to boot! So after lunch, off we went, back into Tremont. We enjoyed an amazing hike up Middle Prong Trail, still bathed in white and glistening like diamonds in the sun. Every turn in the path offered up yet another amazing and gorgeous view, and all that could be heard was the squeak . . . squeak of the snow beneath our feet and the word “Wow!” coming from our lips! The numerous cascades along the walk were surrounded by white making them appear ever so stunning. Being a wet snow, it clung to every leaf on the evergreens and every branch of the trees, and looked like a postcard, something that just couldn’t be real! Needless to say, we had a royal time, just taking it all in and getting lots of photos along the way.
From there we drove into Cades Cove and as soon as we entered the one-way loop road, were met by fields filled with horses, White-tailed Deer and turkey, all together, as if it were some kind of a natural zoo! It was so beautiful and peaceful as we drove along, enjoying the winter setting. By the time we had made it around the entire cove, we decide we must have seen at least eighty deer or more! At one point, there were several turkeys forging quite close to the van. So we slowly pulled off and sat for a few minutes just watching and photographing them. They were totally oblivious to us and I stated this was my favorite kind of turkey on Thanksgiving, one that is alive and well, and happily eating in the woods! We got home later that evening, where we enjoyed the leftover ziti from the evening before.
Friday, we spent another wonderful day in the woods, while hiking to the Walker Sister’s cabin. Most of the snow had melted away along the trail by this point, so we weren’t quite sure if there would be any left by the old cabin or not. Well, much to our delight, there was still quite a bit of snow remaining by the cabin, and it was beautiful as we rounded the corner in the road, and saw the ground covered in white! After looking around a bit, I decided we needed to build a snowman, so I started gathering snow and rolling it around until it became a large ball. This became the base, to which we added another good-sized ball, and was topped with a smaller ball. Next we added eyes, a nice smile and an old small piece of wood for the nose. Arms were added and after placing Jeanie’s hat and scarf on it, we saw that it was such a pretty snow person that it indeed had to be a snow lady! So she was given mittens and hiking sticks and looked like she was ready for a lovely walk in the woods. We took several photos with and of her, and then decided it was time to tell our snowy friend good-bye. So we waved to her as we walked down the snow covered path and started our journey back. That evening we enjoyed delicious homemade soup, given to us by our dear friend Sammie, which was a wonderful treat!
We all decided that it had been a delightful week and that we had been truly blessed with some beautiful experiences. We said good-bye to Wes’ parents yesterday morning, and began catching up on different jobs and work. Wes has been packing up paintings for several different shows this afternoon, and we’re hoping to get back to painting in the next couple of days!
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Until next time ~ Rachelle