Family and Water . . . A Great Mix!


A fun visit with family here in the Smokies!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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S’mores time!!!

My family arrived here in the Smokies a week ago last Thursday, after dropping Wes and I off at the airport in Sanford, FL on the way up Wednesday.  My niece Haydyn and nephew Tyler were thrilled to be back in the mountains again, and were ready for a week full of adventure! We started it off with tubing in the Little River here in Townsend Friday afternoon, and although recent rain in the mountains caused swift moving and higher water levels, we still had fun and enjoyed tubing a couple of short trips down. That evening we had supper on the screen porch and made s’mores for dessert over the fire in the backyard.  A great way to spend a summer day indeed!

wes siegrist sculpting
Wes’ clay sculpture “Surf’s up Dude!”

Rainy weather Saturday made it perfect weather for hanging out here at the house and sculpting with clay. Of course we had to sculpt a surfer catching some waves complete with the a shark fin, as well as me in my kayak paddling with all sorts of critters including a gator. The kids had a ball creating a variety of interesting things out of the clay.

rachelle siegrist riding the cades cove loop
The best way to see the cove . . . in the back of a truck!

I made homemade baked ziti for Father’s Day lunch which my Dad, along with the rest of us enjoyed eating! That afternoon the weather cleared up, so we, along with friends Tom and Sharon, headed into Cades Cove for a nice picnic supper by the stream before loading up into the back of my parents truck and heading around the loop road. Our first stop was along Sparks Lane, where we had a blast wading in the stream and perfecting our rock skipping techniques.

rachelle siegrist in cades cove
Ready . . . set . . . skip!

While playing in the water, we were thrilled when a white-tailed deer walked over to where we were, coming down to the stream to get a drink. As we stood very still and quietly watched her, she decided to go upstream, gracefully and effortlessly jumping right over a log blocking her watery path! Needless to say, we felt tremendously blessed to have witnessed such a beautiful site so near to where we were standing!

deer in cades cove
Mmmmmm . . .  refreshing cold mountain water!

Loaded back into the truck, we continued our drive around the loop, seeing several more deer out in the fields, as well as quite a few turkeys. Riding in the back of the truck, with the tree canopy passing above, is a great way to experience the cove! We laughed, talked and sang as we rode along, a light misty rain falling on us at first, and before long we started seeing hundreds of fireflies in the grassy fields.  It was truly magical watching hundreds of  twinkling lights throughout the fields, and we couldn’t believe it when a black bear walked over towards the truck from a nearby tree, crossing the road behind us! We were absolutely delighted thinking it a most magical and enchanting evening!  Finishing the drive around the loop, we parked the truck and walked up into the cove a ways, enjoying the immense serenity and beauty, along with the twinkling display of light, complements of the fireflies.  It was a beautiful evening and a great way to spend Father’s Day with my dad!

rachelle siergist with pink flamingo
Me and my precious little buddy Haydyn

Tuesday came bringing nice weather for playing in the water, and so we did just that. We spent the day kayaking, swimming and hanging out on our floats and tubes,  with the new pink flamingo float from my parents stealing the show, proving to be a perfect complement to my pink kayak! 


I even got Wes to get on the pink flamingo with me ~ Hold on Sharon! . . . Ha Ha

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Haydyn goes for a little kayak ride with Grandpa (Thanks Kit for this neat photo!)

We took time for a relaxing picnic supper, which gave us more energy for playing in the water. Afterwards my Dad, Tyler and I went kayaking and I was totally amazed at how fast Tyler took to the kayak and learned the art of paddling! He’s decided he now knows what he wants for Christmas this year . . . a kayak, and I’m thrilled to have another kayaking buddy in the family!

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Food always tastes better in the woods!

Haydyn is definitely a water baby like me, perfectly happy and content to spend countless hours swimming and playing in the water, and although I forgot to check, I’m sure our toes looked like raisins by the time we left the water that night!

Kit, Dad and Tyler having a great time!
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Tyler was an instant pro!

I have totally loved the countless hours we have spent with my family in and around water these past two weeks while making many more wonderful memories!!  Moreover, while blissfully boogie boarding at the beach last week, I decided that from now on when asked . . . “As a kid, what did you always want to be when you grew up?” I’m going to be completely honest now and say . . . “A beach bum!”  And who knows, I just may get to be one someday yet . . . Ha Ha!

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A beautiful sunset enjoyed this past week after a day of adventure


~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I finished another pet commission this past week, of an adorable Yorkie named Benji!  I had an absolute ball painting this precious little boy and am happy I get to pet and play with him occasionally as well!

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My latest dog commission “Benji”


I’m currently painting on two more adorable pet commissions, one of “Tito” and of “Riley and Boris” and look forward to sharing them with you as I make progress and eventually as finished portrait paintings soon!

yellow lab painting, yellow Labrador Retriever painting, dog commission by rachelle siegrist

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Sun…Sand…And Surf!

Fun with family at the beach!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Our family taking over the pool

We landed in Punta Gorda, FL last Friday a week ago, where my parents, niece and nephew picked us up, starting our family adventure in Ft. Myers, while celebrating my parent’s upcoming 50th Wedding Anniversary.  We weren’t at the hotel very long, before getting in the large pool, and what a delightful surprise to find it was heated!  Soon we were joined by my brother and sister and their families.

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A great photo-op at the Shell factory

We woke to the sound of falling rain Saturday morning and unfortunately it hung around for the day. So we all headed to the Shell Factory which turned out to be quite an experience, as it was filled with everything from shells and gemstones from around the world to a room full of pirates!  Needless to say the kids had a ball exploring everything, and even my little niece, Raelynn, feel in love with a skeleton pirate, and enjoyed her first horse ride with help from her Uncle Wes.

Raelynn is in love ~ Happy 1st horse ride

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Mom, Dad and Raelynn in the Shell Factory

We ate supper at the Shrimp Shack which was a treat for our taste buds!  While eating a gentleman from the table next to us stood up and said to my dad . . . “Larry Davis . . . Is that you?”  Looking over at them, we quickly recognized them, and we’re delighted that it was some dear friends and our pastor for many years when I was a teenager!  The air was filled with laughter and joyful sounds, as hugs were given after not seeing each other for 27 years, and it was a happy reunion indeed!  By then the rain had finally ended, so we spent the remainder of the evening playing mini golf at Smugglers Cove. Greeted by alligators and a life-sized pirate ship, our golfing adventure only got better as we went along!

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Marshall, Alicia, Haydyn and Tyler

We woke the next morning and we’re thrilled to see it wasn’t raining, so off we went to Lovers Key State Park, a favorite beach of mine in the Ft. Myers’s area!  Soon our happy toes were walking through powdery white sand, and within minutes in the water!  The kids were having a blast hanging on to my pink float and diving down to look for shells. They would pop up out of the water, holding shell treasures, which were placed on the float, and added to as more were found.

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Me, Haydyn, Bubba and Allison . . . a float full!

We decided to enjoy our picnic lunch beachside, while enjoying the gorgeous view from our sandy restaurant!  After lunch, several of us enjoyed another hour or more of fun while swimming and floating around in our salty paradise.  But alas the time had come for our fun to end, and we headed back to Okeechobee, where my parents live. Reluctantly the kids, including the tall one… me, left while telling the beach goodbye.

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A family that surfs together . . . stays together!

My brother was able to get off work early Tuesday, so we all headed over to my all time favorite beach, which my brother and I have always called the “pay beach” since we had to pay to go, as it is a State Park in Ft. Pierce.  With  surfboards and boogie boards in tow, we headed down the sandy path to the beach, and noticed immediately that the waves were great and some amazing waves were coming in sets of three,  giving thrilling rides as we rode them in!  We spent a few hours there while constantly enjoying the great surf!  

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Tyler at the end of a good ride!

After riding my brother’s longboard in a couple of times, I was heading back out when another huge wave crashed on me, jerking the longboard, and snapping my two fingers, that I somehow had managed to get wrapped up in the surfboard leash, and I was amazed when I came out of the water and saw that I still actually had my fingers!  They’re still black and blue, but at least I can bend them, and can touch them without bringing tears to my eyes!  Guess that’s the kind of souvenirs that adrenaline junkies bring home!

Haydyn and Wes building the longest sand castle ~ With their boards ~ Haydyn buried

We’re back home in the Smokies now, and my family is here visiting this week, enjoying more adventures and making more memories!  I’m delighted to be able to spend Father’s Day with my dad this year, and want to wish him, my father-n-law George, and all of you dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day!!


yellow lab painting, yellow Labrador Retriever painting, dog commission by rachelle siegrist

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle