Posted by: Rachelle Siegrist | August 31, 2014

SAA Part II ~ Playing in Rocky Mountain National Park

Playing in Rocky Mountain National Park

By Rachelle Siegrist

wes and rachelle siegrist in rocky montain national park

Happy kids we are while enjoying Sprague Lake

I can’t believe it’s been a week and a half already since Wes and I landed in Denver, CO, anxious to spend a week out there! Although we were there to attend the 54th Society of Animal Artists’ Annual Exhibition, we spent several days playing in Rocky Mountain National Park, while staying with dear friends Bob and Diane at their beautiful place in nearby Berthoud, CO. Wednesday, over a week ago, the four of us headed to Estes Park, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Poppy’s Pizza and Grill. While sitting on the backporch enjoying the cool breeze, we were treated to the lovely sites and sounds of the stream and mountainside adjacent to the open air dining area. After lots of talking and laughing and with tummies happy and full, we drove into Rocky Mountain National Park, with our first stop being Sprague Lake. It was a most relaxing walk, just meandering along the path leading around the lake, accompanied by beautiful blue skies above! The air was full of bird song as we occasionally stopped to admire the numerous wildflowers still blooming along the lakeside. We also spotted a couple of Mallard Ducks as well as several other bird species, many of which we photographed for possible future paintings.

rachelle siegrist bob and diane mason in coloradoMe with dear friends Bob and Diane by Sprague Lake

siegrist photo of mallard duck at sprague lakeA lovely female Mallard Duck, by what I call “Lazy Grass”, since it appeared to grow tall . . . get tired . . .

then fall over and keep growing while lying down!

wes siegrist photographing ducks at spraguelakeShe posed so sweetly for Wes!

Leaving there, we headed up to the high country, where we spent sometime at one of the overlooks, while enjoying the view and watching the numerous resident chipmunks, squirrels and pikas all running busily about. The gorgeous views were accompanied with strong, brisk winds, which I must admit caused me to hide my bare legs behind the rock ledges as much as possible! Leaving there, we headed back down the mountainside, while enjoying the gorgeous ride back through the Park. That evening the four of us met our dear artist friend, Karryl, at Bob and Diane’s favorite Thai restaurant, where we enjoyed great food, conversation and of course lots of laughs!

sprague lake in rocky mountain national parkThick grasses border beautiful Sprague Lake

sprague lake in rocky mountain nationalAnother gorgeous view of the lake, one in which I can just imagine a bull Moose!

chipmunk in coloradoA curious resident at one of  the upper elevation overlooks

rachelle siegrist in rocky mountain nationalSitting on the edge . . .  literally!  . . . Another treat for this thrill seeker!

Thursday, after a delightful early morning walk and yummy breakfast with several other friends on the Mason’s porch, artist friend Allen Blagden joined Wes and I for another adventurous day in the Park! We enjoyed once again, driving through the beautiful canyon area leading from our friends’ house in Berthoud to Estes Park, where we stopped at a Subway to grab sandwiches to take for a picnic in the Park. After a bit of confusion with the man making our sandwiches and a small disaster with Allen and I at the drink machines, we headed back to our car, while laughing our heads off! We were off once again, and before we knew it, we were entering the Park. Reading maps is not a strong point of mine, so unfortunately we managed to miss all of the main picturesque picnic areas and ended up at a table by a large parking lot. Although we had a grand view of the Rockies in the distance, a huge RV filled up much of our view! But not to worry, we had great fun anyway, laughing and shivering, as we ate while trying to hold down our sandwich wrappers in what seemed like 60 mph cold winds!

rachelle siegrist and allen blagden at SAAAllen and I at our picturesque picnic spot

With tummies full, we loaded a shuttle bus, where we rode to the Bear Lake trailhead. It was another beautiful day as we started the walk around the picturesque lake, stopping numerous times to take photos. Allen and I both had to feel the water to see just how cold it was, and just as we imagined it was icy! Wildflowers were blooming all along the hike with chipmunks and little ground squirrels occasionally making appearances. Before we knew it, we had rounded the lake, at which point we decided to hike up to Nymph Lake. On the way there and out of breath from the elevation, Allen decided he better keep his greetings to those passing by to just one syllable!

wes and rachelle siegrist by bear lakeWes and I are all smiles at Bear Lake . . . notice how many jackets I have on . . . Ha!

nymph lakeA  stunning view of Nymph Lake

siegrist photot of bear lakeA gorgeous view of Bear Lake

Reaching the upper elevation lake, we could see that it was filled with water lilies and several of them were blooming. It was a gorgeous lake, and I could just imagine myself gliding across the smooth surface in a kayak, thus quickly deciding it would make a spectacular backyard! Having enjoyed the stunning setting and seeing several different birds once again, we decided it was time to hike back down. Before long we were back at the Bear Lake trailhead and parking area, where we loaded back onto the shuttle bus. Soon we arrived at the parking area, where our adventures had started earlier that day. With many happy memories made and stories to tell, we started the journey back to our friends’ home, where later that evening we all drove into Denver for the weekend.

wild asters blooming in rocky mountain nationalWild Asters bloom by Sprague Lake

berthoud coloradoThe gorgeous drive to our “Colorado home”

~ The latest paintings off of the Siegrists’ Easels~

This past week, I finished my miniature painting of a sculpture room in The National Gallery of Art.  It features 19 sculptures and a shadowy figure in the back, which was a docent.  I felt as if I had managed a major feat upon completing this very tiny detailed painting!

A sculpture room at the National Gallery of Art  by Rachelle Siegrist


Come back this Wednesday to read about part III of our exciting adventure with Elk and other critters in Rocky Mountain National Park!

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Until next time . . .

The Society of Animal Artists’ 54th Annual Members’ Exhibition

Part I of III by Rachelle Siegrist

rachelle siegrist with bev and ira abbottMe with fellow artist Bev Abbott and her husband Ira, in front of the Wildlife Experience in Parker, CO

After a three-hour flight, Wes and I safely landed in Denver, CO last Tuesday evening. Upon picking up our cute little rental car, we headed towards our dear friends and fellow Artist, Diane and Bob Mason’s beautiful home in Berthoud. After an excited round of hugs upon arrival, we met the newest additions to their family, two precious little dogs named Hershel and Dottie! Having enjoyed a good nights sleep, Wes and I happily joined Diane on an early morning walk that next day, along a winding road leading through their neighborhood canyon, treating us to grand views the entire time! We then spent the day in Rocky Mountain National Park with the two of them, before returning for a delicious meal at their local favorite Thai restaurant.

rachelle siegrist and diane masonDiane and I enjoying the morning walk

rachelle siegrist with allen blagden and diane masonAllen, Diane and I eating wild plums growing alongside the road

wild sunflowers in colorodoA beautiful wild Sunflower

The next morning, fellow artist Anni Crouter, and husband Nate,  joined Diane, Wes and I for another delightful walk. Returning from our walk,  dear artist friend Allen Blagden and the Mason’s sweet neighbor Theresa joined us for a yummy breakfast, which we all enjoyed while sitting out on their deck and enjoying the gorgeous view! It was a wonderful time filled with lots of conversation and laughs, as well as lots of fusing from their resident hummingbirds, whose territory we had all invaded! That day Allen joined Wes and I for another awesome day spent in the Rockies, where we made lots of great memories. We returned home in time to join up with the others and drive up to Denver, where the Society of Animal Artists opening festivities would be taking place at the Wildlife Experience in nearby Parker.

attending the SAA showWe were thrilled to see a gorgeous double rainbow, which we drove through on our way to the hotel!

breakfast at Dianne and Bob MasonsEnjoying breakfast on the Mason’s deck!

We all had a nice dinner at the hotel where we were staying that evening and enjoyed seeing several artist friends who had arrived for the weekend. Early the next morning, we headed to the Denver Zoo, where we spent the day, along with several other SAA artists. As always, it was a great day at the zoo, and Wes and I got bunches of great new reference photos for future paintings! Excitedly, that evening was our first glimpse at the exhibition at the beautiful Wildlife Experience, and we all could all hardly wait to see it! The show was exquisitely hung, and everyone enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres as we walked around looking at the show and talking with all those attending.  The show looked amazing!

rachelle siegrist at 2014 SAA opening

Wes and I with our paintings in the exhibition

wes siegrist at 2014 SAA opening

The next morning began with a breakfast for the artists followed by our annual members’ meeting. After a quick lunch, we all made our way back to enjoy a very informative workshop by artist Aaron Blaise, who demonstrated how to do amazing things with Adobe Photoshop! I was completely mesmerized, as he hand drew animals with an electronic tablet and manipulated his drawings and photos! After a short break, we then enjoyed listening to several SAA artists, including John Banovich, Jan Martin McGuire, Renee Bemis and Daniel Smith, share their personal insights on career related topics and marketing their art. Both workshops were well received by the attending artists with all gleaning valuable information from the talks. Many thanks again to artist Terry Miller for his work in setting it up for the attending artists!

rachelle siegrist photographing at the denver zooMe taking photos at the Denver Zoo

That evening we returned to The Wildlife Experience to enjoy another look at the exhibition before the awards dinner later that evening. Several wonderful artist friends joined us at our table, at which it seemed we did more laughing then any other table in the room! We were treated to a delicious dinner, which we enjoyed amidst lots of delightful conversation and laughter. Before we knew it, the awards were presented, we were done taking a SAA group photo and all were returning to the hotel.

rachelle siegrist at SAA dinnerL to R ~ Me, Chris, Kay, Tom, Allen, Steve and Rhonda

SAA awards dinner 2014The SAA Awards dinner

Sunday, Wes spent in SAA Board meetings, so yours truly was on her own for the day. I started it with an hour of swimming in the pool, which is always a joy for a water baby! Afterwards, I took a shuttle van to the Wildlife Experience, and enjoyed a tasty lunch while sitting outside in their beautiful patio area. The resident bunnies put on a great dinner show, as they sprinted around and enjoyed munching on the yummy, tender, green grass! Then it was time to watch National Geographic’s Great White Shark movie in 3D, which was fabulous indeed!!! Having personally always been enthralled with sharks this was a real treat for me, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled than when they went down in the cage with the sharks!  Being in 3D, it made me feel like I was right there with them! Unbelievably it got even more amazing when two world champion free divers dove and swam with three of these incredible giants of the ocean! The remainder of my time there was spent going through the wonderful Globology display in the museum. I then caught the shuttle back to the hotel and enjoyed the remainder of the afternoon sitting in the patio area, while reading a book and just enjoying the delightful Colorado weather. That evening I joined Wes and the other SAA Board members for dinner, which was a real treat. It was then time to say our goodbyes and drive back to Diane and Bob’s place.  We left Colorado yesterday morning and are now back home in the Smokies.  Many thanks again to Bob and Diane for their wonderful hospitality!

Rachelle siegrist in denverThanks to James Gary Hines for this photo of me talking to my mom and goofing off!

If you’re in or are going to be in the Denver area, I highly recommend a visit to see the SAA Exhibition at the wildlife Experience which runs through October 22nd!  For more information please visit the SAA  or The Wildlife Experince websites.

Come back this Sunday to read about our exciting adventure with Elk and other critters in Rocky Mountain National Park!

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Until next time . . .

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