Kayaking A Mountain Lagoon

Having Fun Camping, Kayaking and Hiking!

By Rachelle Siegrist

rachelle siegrist kayaking

Wes and I enjoyed 3 splendid days whilst camping this past week!  The warmer weather was perfect for kayaking, and we enjoyed doing so each day we were there!  Starting out early each morning, the glassy surface made for easy paddling, and if we started to feel a bit too warm, we just dipped our feet into the chilly water and all was well.

wes siegrist kayaking

Huge rock formations rose up along both sides at times, sandwiching us between amazing sandstone sculptures.  Some had ledges running across in which moss, ferns and vines grew and hung down, making it look like the hanging gardens of Babylon in places!  I felt like I was kayaking in a mountain lagoon, as I paddled along, surrounded by all the lush beauty!

stone cliff formation

I stared in amazement as we rounded each bend in the stream, showcasing another stone wall with colors so intense at times, that they didn’t even look real!  Warm siennas ran down the cliff faces, created from the iron veins running horizontally across the rocks, adding warmth to their color and pairing beautifully with the variety of green mosses.

In several spots, thick, gargantuan-sized clumps of moss hung down, so laden with water, that chunks were about to fall, and felt amazingly soft and fluffy to the touch!  As you can imagine, I had to maneuver my kayak over to several of these beauties, just so I could feel them!

moss photo

The farther we paddled, the more stunning the scenery became, and we felt truly blessed to be able to enjoy such magnificent beauty!  Stone walls arching up so high, that in many areas we felt as if we were paddling through caves, with numerous water droplets hitting the water’s surface causing the sound to resonate through the tunnel-like areas.

rachelle siegrist kayaking2

Wildlife was abundant, especially birds, and their songs constantly filled the air, breathing such joy into the gorgeous setting.  One resident family of Canada Geese were quite friendly and as interested in watching us, as we were them! Four goslings constantly followed their parents, whether it be on water or land.  The water also teemed with abundant wildlife, with fish and Red-spotted Newts being spotted everywhere.  I enjoyed wading in the water upon several occasions, and delighted in watching the Bluegill come and check out my feet.

We spent afternoons hiking, while enjoying a different perspective of the stream below on occasion.  One trail in particular showcased an abundant variety of moss, which felt amazingly soft after an afternoon rain!

stone formation

The Reindeer Lichen in particular was immensely soft, feeling like what I imagine it would feel like to touch a big fluffy cloud, and I couldn’t resist stopping continually to gently pat it, getting Wes to even become enthralled by its softness!

rachelle siegrist hiking a trail

We hiked over stone bridges in places, narrow and high, granting beautiful views of the woodlands below.

a natural bridge

Of course we had to enjoy the views from both the top, and beneath, the stone walkways.

At other times we hiked to caves, with stone walls reaching for the sky, rising way above the small openings below, making us feel very, very miniature at times!

wes siegrist hiking

The cave walls are home to a variety of critters, including salamanders, which we spotted at one point.  Abundant Sandwort, ferns and mosses covered the moist, sandy floor, creating a bright green and striking contrast against the stone walls.

All too soon, our adventure had come to an end and it was time to return home once again, but we brought along with us many wonderful memories, and look forward to our next big adventure!


~ Recently off the Easels ~

Here’s one of my latest still life paintings, featuring a metal pheasant that belonged to my late granny, and an antique crock that belonged to Wes’ family.  I’m currently painting a Black-tailed Jack Rabbit, and will share it with you once it’s finished.


“Still Life Painting With Granny’s Pheasant II” 

This is a landscape commission which Wes did, featuring the collectors beautiful garden.

Wes Siegrist's painting Julia's Garden
“Julia’s Garden”

~ See our miniature paintings in person this week at these three locations ~

13th Masterpieces in Miniature
May 2018: Picture This Gallery, Alberta, Canada

27th International Miniature Show
May 5 – June 2, 2018: Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC

The Art of Miniature XXVI
May 6 – June 10, 2018: Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA

Learn How to Commission A Painting by Clicking Here

Follow us on Facebook!

Read Our Monthly Email Newsletters

Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Adventures With Family

Having Fun In The Smoky Mountains!

By Rachelle Siegrist

norris lake
Looking out over the lake by Norris Dam

Wes’ parents have been visiting us here in the Smokies for the past week, and we’ve enjoyed several adventures!  They arrived last Sunday evening in time for supper on the porch.  Monday we headed over to Knoxville to go to the zoo, and when we arrived, I realized I had forgot our good camera . . . oops!  “Not to worry” I said, lets go to Norris Dam State Park instead, and we’ll come back another day to the zoo.  So we did just that, deciding it was a great way to enjoy the gorgeous weather that day!

rachelle and wes siegrist at norris lake

The lake was beautiful and a cool breeze filled the air, as we visited different areas around the park, including an old mill and barn.  Of course I couldn’t resist getting in the water at every chance, at least up to my knees, and am anxious to camp there sometime soon and explore the area in our kayaks!

norris dam
Now that would be fun to slide down!

Blessed with another beautiful day on Tuesday, we decided to have a picnic by the water.  We enjoyed a lovely drive before finding the perfect lunch spot, with a wee bit of sun shining on me and the rest in the shade.  Afterwards, we talked with a nice couple who were fishing and who had the cutest little tan Chihuahua named Lucy.  She had light green polka dots all over her fur, and her owner told us right away we may not want to pet her, as she had found goose droppings and rolled in them, proudly decorating her fur with the perfectly round green splotches . . . Ha Ha!

flowers and lake

After lunch we took a leisurely stroll, stopping to admire flowers and watch birds.  We even saw a couple of Banded Water Snakes swimming just below the surface of the water!

rachelle siegrist
Jeanie and I admiring the flowers

Wes worked in the mornings, getting things done in time to spend the remainder of the day out and about.  We decided to try the zoo again, with all of us being sure to remember the camera that time!  It seemed every time we went anywhere during the week, we got behind a paving truck, stripe painter or something else in the Park.  While heading to the zoo we got to follow behind a trailer containing the Mayfield Dairy cow, which was really neat!

mayfield cow
The Mayfield Cow heads to the zoo

For me, the highlight at the Knoxville Zoo is getting to watch and listen to Georgie, the resident Gibbon sing!  He now has a big new beautiful enclosure, which has netted tunnels in the air, through which he can climb to different sections.  His favorite spot appeared to be the highest point, at which he could swing from the tree top and sing out loud and clear, broadcasting his beautiful opera voice throughout the park and surrounding area!

georgie gibbon knoxville zoo
“Wop…Wop…Wooooooo” sings Georgie!

The new Asian section and tiger enclosure is also very nice, and we were able to get some great reference photos of the tiger for future miniature paintings.

tiger at knoxvile zoo
“Oh . . . this will make a great miniature painting!”

We stayed until it was closing time, having enjoyed a great day at the zoo indeed!  One afternoon, we took a relaxing drive around nearby Cades Cove, and were delighted when we got to see a bear, standing up in the field!

bear in cades cove

This time we decided to hike by the stream for awhile, after walking around the grist mill and other historical buildings, finding a huge burl on a tree along the path.

rachelle siegrist hiking the smokies
George, Jeanie and me in Cades Cove


Another day, we packed a picnic lunch and headed over to Gatlinburg, to drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail.  It was another beautiful clear day, showcasing the mountain vistas that dotted the drive along the narrow winding road.

roaring fork drive in gatlinburg
Wes, Jeanie and George with fire damage near Gatlinburg behind them

We stopped to see some of the old historical cabins and barns located in the area, of which the little tub mill is always a favorite.

wes siegrist roaring fork drive
Wes and George with the trough leading to the historical Tub Mill

A gorgeous stream runs alongside the road throughout part of the drive, and affords great places to walk down and enjoy wading in the icy water, in several locations.  I thought this one particular spot to be really beautiful, as all the surrounding rocks were covered in lush green moss, and was so soft to the touch!  I spent some time there wading in the clear water and of course petting the moss!

stream in roaring fork motor trail gatlinburg

We said our goodbyes this morning, as Wes’ parents headed back to Indiana, deciding it had been a fun week, full of adventures!


~ See our miniature paintings in person this week at these three locations ~

13th Masterpieces in Miniature
May 2018: Picture This Gallery, Alberta, Canada

27th International Miniature Show
May 5 – June 2, 2018: Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC

The Art of Miniature XXVI
May 6 – June 10, 2018: Snow Goose Gallery, Bethlehem, PA

Learn How to Commission A Painting by Clicking Here

Follow us on Facebook!

Read Our Monthly Email Newsletters

Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Waterfalls…Wildflowers…and Mudpuppies


Having Fun In The Smoky Mountains!

By Rachelle Siegrist

rachelle siegrist by waterfall

This past week has brought a few adventures with friends!  Last Sunday afternoon we hiked with friends Sharon, Tom and Kit to a favorite waterfall, and enjoyed having it all to ourselves for quite awhile!  Tom and I being the only two brave ones in the group, waded out into the icy water, and I decided once my legs went numb, it wasn’t so bad at all . . . Ha! Recent rains had caused the falls to roar with such force, that surrounding air was filled with mist and we couldn’t hear one another talk while near them!  It was truly amazing to watch such a powerful force of nature!

rachelle siegrist hiking in the smokies

Friends, Lou and John visiting from Virginia, spent this past Tuesday with us.  We hiked  a couple of trails nearby, while looking for and photographing a variety of wildflowers.  We started off our day with a picnic by the river, and I was thrilled when I got to watch a kayaker zip by, then turn and do what I call “kayak surfing“, where you turn the kayak facing upstream and ride one section of whitewater.  It was great fun to watch, and made me want to try it!

whitewater kayaking

We saw numerous wildflowers blooming and visited a couple of waterfalls and cascades along the hike.  It was another beautiful spring day, ending with a yummy supper at our local Black Bear Cafe, and dessert on our back porch, where we fed visiting squirrels peanuts and admired the gorgeous male Red-breasted Grosbeak who kept visiting the feeder!  We said our goodbyes later that evening, and already look forward to their fun visit next spring!

jack-in-the-pulpit flower photo

Another morning this past week, friends Kit and Mike joined us for a morning of kayaking at a nearby lake.  Any day in the kayak is an awesome one for me, and this one started off even better when Wes spotted a Common Mudpuppy just as we launched our kayaks!  I couldn’t believe it, and was delighted to get several nice photos of it as we watched it swim along!  I love hellbenders mudpuppies and since spotting them is quite rare, I’m always thrilled when given a glimpse of one of these incredible large salamanders!

hellbender salamander photo

He decided to swim under my kayak . . . what a neat experience!!!

photo of hellbender salamander

We were blessed with another gorgeous morning as we paddled along the smooth surface of the lake.  The clear water afforded great views of the long, bright green tendrils of water plants stretching from the bottom below. Only a few small, wispy clouds dotted the sky, allowing the water’s surface to mostly reflect the clear azure blue skies above.  Flowering trees growing along the banks, created an overhang of flowers above, which I slowly kayaked under, while leaning back and watching the masses of purple and white pass overhead.

flowering trees

Soon, we found the perfect location for lunch, a shallow, clear lagoon with a flat, stone covered bank jutting out into it. The crystal clear water was filled with small fish and newts swimming about, especially in the deeper pool, and were such fun to watch!


I found a comfortable seat on a log in the sun, and for a while all was well with the world, as I happily sat there soaking up the warmth and enjoying the surrounding beauty!

rachelle siegrist kayakin

Soon it was time to start paddling back, and we were happy to spot more birds along the way.  We saw several Red-winged Blackbirds hanging onto swaying reeds, and enjoyed watching a little Spotted Sandpiper, as it tip-toed along the stones, while continually bobbing it’s tail.

Red-winged Blackbird  ~   Spotted Sandpiper

All too quickly, our paddling adventure had come to an end, and it was time to head back home and get back to work, filled with gratitude for having experienced another wonderful adventure!

kayaking with rachelle siegrist

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I finished my latest pet portraits this past week, of two gorgeous English Setters, named Marlin and Max.  It was such a joy painting these two handsome and very sweet boys!  Currently on my easel is a painting of a Black-tailed Jack Rabbit, which I watched and photographed while in Texas a couple of years ago.  While I’m getting to spend time at the easel, Wes is currently still very busy working with his new executive director job for the Society of Animal Artists.

english setter dog painting by Rachelle Siegrist
english setter dog painting Max by Rachelle Siegrist


Want to enjoy your furry family member as a miniature gem?  Contact us!

Learn How to Commission A Painting by Clicking Here

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Read Our Monthly Email Newsletters

Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle