A 3-Day Adventure With Friends!


A Fun Visit With Friends in North Carolina!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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A scenic overlook

We began our 3-day adventure early this past Tuesday, while heading over to Brevard, NC with friends Fred and Barb.  It was one of those beautiful storybook days weather-wise, as we made our way along the winding road leading through the Great Smoky Mountains, while enjoying numerous gorgeous vistas along the drive.  After leaving the park, we headed up along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and soon found the perfect picnic spot.

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Picnicking atop the world . . . Fred, Barb and me

Perched atop the edge of the tallest mountain around, we felt as if we were on top of the world while we ate!  It was only 60 degrees in the sun, and the breeze blowing made if feel even colder.  Needless to say, I was most delighted I had brought along my black hooded sweater!  We were serenaded by the melodious song of a Winter Wren as we ate, while watching hawks flying over.  The next highlight of the drive was located at the end of a short walk from the road, known as the Twin Falls.

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The Twin Falls

Two beautiful waterfalls, the French Broad Falls to the left and Shoal Creek Falls nearest the old building.  We spent a short time enjoying the view of sound of the picturesque falls while taking photographs for future miniature paintings!

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Wes and me in front of the French Broad Falls

Soon afterwards, we arrived at our dear friend Don’s lovely home in Brevard, NC, where we were met by a big smile and hugs!  The group enjoyed relaxing while catching up on the latest happenings, before heading out for supper that evening.  Of course the most thrilling part of the evening was riding in Don’s brand new Tesla, and getting to watch it drive itself!  It was quite freaky watching the car turn on it’s headlights and interior lights, fold it’s side mirrors in and starting backing up on its own.  With the wheel turning, and no one in the drivers seat, it appeared as if the invisible man was stealing the car before our very eyes! The other great thing about the Tesla is that it goes from 0-60 mph in mere seconds, while pressing you against the seat, making it feel impossible to  move temporarily!  I personally found it most thrilling, asking Don to “Please do it again!” and was most impressed it’s actually run by bunch of rechargeable AA batteries!

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Tesla’s big navigation and control panel 

Each morning at Don’s started while enjoying Wes’ delicious pancakes and Don’s yummy coffee in what Don calls the tree house, a glass back porch surrounded by lush trees and native shrubs.

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Wes, Fred, Barb and Don enjoying pancakes

I always love walking the nearby trail, which follows alongside a stream, showcasing several nice cascades and waterfalls along the way. You enter the trail while walking through a tunnel of thick Rhododendrons, giving the illusion that you are indeed entering an enchanted forest!

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One of the loveliest sights along the trail, is this waterfall, and although not really big, it’s so beautiful and most peaceful to watch and listen to for awhile.

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There are several other beautiful tranquil spots along the narrow winding trail leading through the dense forest, and I found several brightly colored fungi while strolling along, finding this large yellow one especially lovely!

Upon my return, we spent most of the day walking around downtown Brevard, visiting a few of the interesting shops located there, and enjoying lunch at Big Mike’s Pizza. Of course no visit to the downtown area is complete without browsing the Ace Hardware store, housed in one of the historical buildings, with old wood floors that creak as you walk the long narrow isles, lined with stuff from floor to ceiling!  That evening was our big night out, while celebrating Don’s birthday, and we did so while enjoying a delicious dinner at Square Root!

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Wes, me, Fred, Barb and Don at Square Root

The next morning it was time to say our goodbyes to Don, and start the journey home.  We decided to make the most of another gloriously beautiful day, while driving through Pisgah National Forest, stopping along the way, to see Looking Glass Falls.  I was thrilled to be there at just the perfect moment, when the sun peaked over the rock cliff behind the falls, it’s rays streaming down, illuminating sections of the area below!  “Sweet” I thought to myself as I snapped photos, knowing it was the beginnings of yet another wonderful miniature painting!

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Looking Glass Falls

~ Recently Off the Easels ~

An American hero was Wes’ recent miniature portrait commission. A P-47 pilot from WWII. Wes said it was really tough figuring out what was what in the B/W reference and capturing a likeness in the tiny face from the low res photo, but that it’s always fun to do something totally different!  Meanwhile I’m painting an adorable dog in miniature, which I’ll be excited to share with you next post, upon finishing it this coming week.

“Lt. Tom Cole” by Wes

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~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Paint, Fun, Paint, Fun …

Highlights from our week!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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The River Rat Pack all relaxing

The terrible dry spell plaguing us here in the Smokies, has finally been broken!  Life giving rain fell from the heavens this past week, and I declare the trees and flowers appear to be smiling! It’s so beautiful to see the brown grass a splendid summertime green once again, and for our flowers and shrubs to no longer appear as if they’re melting.  The other wonderful benefit of the rain is that it brought the water level of the Little River up some, making it perfect for cruising down on our tubes!

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We’ve spent most of this past week at our easels once again, but I jump at every chance to head to the river for awhile, so whenever my friend Sharon emails or calls and asks “Do you want to go to the river?” . . . my reply is “Yes!!!”  So off we all go and within minutes find ourselves standing in the frigid water trying to convince ourselves it’s really not that cold, ha ha!  But the thrill of the ride is stronger than the pain of the cold, so we quickly mount our tubes and head down the first amazing set of rapids!

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Sharon says . . . “This is a piece of cake!”

Poor Wes discovered his tube started leaking during our journey down the river, causing him to appear to be sinking . . . Mayday . . .Mayday!!!

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Uh . . . Oh . . . going down!

We’re usually not a big fan of countless piles of stacked stones along the river, but this group totally impressed us all!  Someone who was very patient and frankly quite good at perfectly balancing assorted sized and shaped rocks, created a group of what appeared to be stone people . . . a woman wearing a bustle under her Victorian dress, another adorned by a large straw hat, a little boy praying,  a gentleman in a suit, a very pregnant lady and their pet frog.  We so enjoyed floating by this stone-faced colony, seeing someone new each and every time we passed them.

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The long lost stone-faced colony

Several of us love snorkeling in the river while watching the numerous fish swimming below, and of course Wes and I are always on the lookout for the huge Hellbender, which Tom spotted while snorkeling there last year!  Tom really gets into it and actually snorkels while swimming and crawling up the rapids at times!

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The extreme “snorkler” Tom

It doesn’t matter how many times we tube the river, each time is just as thrilling as the first, and Sharon and I usually talk the guys into letting us tube down farther and them stopping to pick us up.  As Sharon and I were relaxingly floating along later one morning, we noticed the sky turning gray at a distance.  As we watched the cloud quickly grew larger and darker forming a straight line between it.  It was scary and beautiful at the same time and appeared to be rolling over itself towards us, and I was wishing for a camera!  Looking as if it was fixing to swallow up everything in it’s path, we decided to get out of the river and hoped the guys would be there soon to get us.  A couple of minutes later we were loaded into the vehicles and headed home, when the bottom fell out!

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Tom, Chance, me and Sharon having fun

Tom and Sharon’s grandson Chance loves boats, and just this past week, we found a nice inflatable red boat.  It had a couple of small holes which Wes promptly fixed and was like brand new afterwards.  So we went to the river this past Friday evening and little Chance crawled into the boat in parking lot as they unloaded it saying “Oval boat!”  We soon convinced him to let us carry it to the river below and as soon as he saw the water he said “Ocean!”  His excited delight with the red boat had us wearing smiles and laughing the entire time!  He loved being pulled around by his Papaw while I made boat engine noises.

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Ooooo . . . what a strange looking and sounding motor

After awhile he decided he wanted to get into “purple boat” and Circle boat” so he took turns riding with me and his Mamaw.  I decided I have a wonderful new little friend and we’re all thrilled that another “river rat” has been born!

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Sharon, my little buddy Chance and I just chillin’

~ Recently Off the Easels ~

I finished my miniature painting of two gorgeous Longhorns this past week.  I photographed these two during our trip to Texas this past May, and totally loved this perspective of them, resulting in the title “Towering Texans”.  Of course the beautiful early morning light and fields of wildflowers added to the magic of it.

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“Towering Texans” 



I also finished my third painting on silk, of one of our resident Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  Wes happened to look out our studio window one afternoon and saw this wee beauty with it’s tiny wings spread out, while sunning.  Amazingly I was able to capture it on film and immediately decided to paint it!

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“Sunlit Ruby”

Wes finished his miniature landscape painting of one of the spectacular views in Yosemite National Park.I actually took the photo of him taking a photo of the magical scene, and if you look closely, you can see him in the lower right hand corner of the painting, thus adding amazing detail to it!

“In Awe and Wonder” by Wes

He also finished a miniature landscape painting of one of the gorgeous sections of Cypress Swamp located in Highland’s Hammock State Park.  This State park is one of my personal favorites and cypress hammocks are magical places to me!  Wes captured the almost surreal beauty of them when the sun is streaming through, highlighting sections of the mahogany water below, as seen from one of our favorite boardwalk trails there.

“Light in the Hammock” by Wes

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle