Senior Adventures And Choo-Choos!

Vacationing with seniors and building model train sets!

by Rachelle Siegrist

siegirsts at square root in brevard
Fred, Barb, me, Wes and Don at the Square Root in Brevard

We headed over to Brevard, North Carolina early this past Wednesday morning along with friends Fred and Barb, for a short visit with Fred’s brother Don.  During the trip over, Barb suggested we give Don a call from Henderson to let him know what time we would arrive.  Laughing, we told her that would be kind of hard since we weren’t driving though Hendersonville, and the three of us decided it was good she wasn’t our designated driver for the day!  Then she suggested we pull over at the rest stop which was several miles past our exit, making us even more glad she wasn’t the one driving!

rachelle and wes siegrist at Twin Dragons in brevard.jpg
Laughs, laughs . . . and more laughs!

We met Don at Twin Dragons in Brevard, and after lunch he opened his cards and gifts.  We busted out in laughter when he read aloud the birthday card from Barb, wishing him a happy “72nd Anniversary”!  We laughed so much, that a lady from a nearby table came over and shared how much she had enjoyed watching us and how we reminded her of times past with her large, fun loving family, now all gone.  

That afternoon upon checking into our hotel, we decided to walk to a nearby store to see if they had any eclipse glasses left, since they were sold-out at home. Noticing a sign saying “get a free pair of eclipse glasses with the purchase of two Pepsi“, Wes and I got our two 20 oz. bottles, and Fred got almost a dozen, in order to get the number of glasses needed for friends. Wes busted out in laughter, finally sharing with Fred and me that they all had to be carried all the way back up the mountain to the hotel! Of course Wes volunteered to carry most of the load up the hill, and now his arms are a couple of inches longer! Fred and Barb have been married for 60 years, but he still had debated for 15 minutes which she liked best, deciding to go with Diet Pepsi, and later that evening, Barb stated she didn’t like Diet Pepsi at all . . . but hey Fred’s the man of the hour with the much needed eclipse glasses for their friends!   

solar eclipse glasses.jpg

While heading to the restaurant that evening,  Fred hysterically laughing, recounted how earlier Barb couldn’t believe it and panicked when she saw a man pick up a “wooden” apple, nicely displayed in a bowl on a bar at the hotel, and take a bite out of it!  Of course, she soon realized it was real and not wooden, but her misjudgment sure made for more great laughs!  We enjoyed a delicious dinner with Don at the Square Root in downtown Brevard, where our friendly and funny waitress kept us well entertained throughout the evening with jokes and more!  The fact that several members of group couldn’t hear the rest of us, added interest to the conversation. Needless to say, there was much laughter which continued the entire way back to the hotel.  Seeing several bus loads of college athletes filing into our hotel, we told Barb she’d better get up early to eat breakfast at 6 AM in order to insure there was still food, and Fred said he was gonna be down there at 5:30, before the young mob overtook the breakfast area!  However, Barb was so busy chomping down on the fresh free cookies, she couldn’t think about rising early for breakfast or anything else at that point!

rachelle siegrist white squirrel shop brevard
Always fun visiting the White Squirrel Shop in Brevard!

The next morning Barb even beat me to the breakfast room, wanting to make sure she had plenty to eat!  Afterwards, we enjoyed strolling through downtown Brevard where it’s always a treat browsing through the numerous speciality stores. For lunch, we met up with Sammie, a dear friend whom we hadn’t seen since she sold her place here in Townsend two years ago. It just so happened that she was vacationing in Brevard and had emailed to see if by any chance we too were going to be there, and was delighted upon finding out we were!  We all met at Big Mike’s Pizza, a favorite of ours in Brevard, and as always with Sammie, there was sidesplitting laughter, so much so, that my sides and cheeks were hurting!  Saying our goodbyes, we headed back home across the Smokies to Townsend.

~ Our Model Railroad update ~

We’re making more progress on the model railroad, and it’s looking pretty amazing!  In this next step, you can see that we have all of the plaster pretty much in place after applying several layers.  We placed the buildings in long enough to see which areas needed to be built up a bit more, and where rocks should be added.  At this point it looked cold and like way too much snow for me!

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Then Wes mixed up a watered down tan mixture using watercolors, poured the mixture into a spray bottle and carefully sprayed the color on, being sure not to oversaturate areas, and letting them dry well in between coats.  Ah . . . it’s looking warmer already!

building a model rail road

While letting it dry really well, numerous hours were spent during the evenings sculpting trees out of wire, starting with strands and twisting, shaping and cutting them, until they resembled a wee small tree.  Wes coated each one with caulk, filling in the cracks, but remaining pliable when dry, allowing us to reshape them if necessary.  I must admit I was tempted to save one for a lovely little miniature sculpture!

making wire trees for model railroads and train sets

“Leaves” were added to the ends of the tree limbs, by painting them with glue water, then carefully dipping them into a mixture made from fine sawdust, colored with assorted green watercolors.  Several coats were needed to achieve the desired appearance, and once finished looked awesome and quite real!


A miniature tree production line!

More updates next week . . . so watch for it!

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

While continuing to paint on a couple of commissions that are surprise gifts, I also finished a miniature painting of a gorgeous mule this past week.  I photographed this beauty during one of our visits to Cades Cove here in the Smokies.

My painting “A Mule in the Sun”

Wes finished his painting of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher this past week.  We photographed this stunning bird while visiting Texas last May.  Both of these paintings will be submissions for an upcoming show.

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Miniature Railroads, Tiny Trees and . . .

Building model train sets, paintings and more!

by Rachelle Siegrist

rachelle siegrist rose photograph.jpg

Oh No!” I gasped, noticing on the calendar that it’s already August 13th!  I can’t believe summer is almost over, especially since I spend much of the year looking forward to it! In many ways it seems like the trees just burst forth with their bright, spring green leaves, and now already have turned that dark, late summer green, with some turning yellow, and even a few already falling to the ground.


As a child, summer seemed endless.  The long, sun drenched days stretching out before my brother and me, with hopes that it would last forever! Days were spent climbing trees, building forts and mostly in my grandparents’ swimming pool or at the beach, where we would boogie board, surf and  snorkel for countless delightful hours.  Of course summer always ended much too soon, but now it seems to end almost as soon as it starts!  Perhaps it’s because I grew up in Florida, where summer felt endless due to almost year round warm weather.  Or perhaps it’s because, as I’ve been told many times, time seems to go faster the older you get.  Regardless, too bad it doesn’t speed up in winter and slow down in the summer . . . wouldn’t that be lovely!  

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Chance poses with his Siegrist chalk art birthday drawings

The shortening days have brought mostly clouds and rain this past week, which is good for not only the trees and flowers, but also for encouraging me to spend much more time at the easel!  We have spent several evenings over the past couple of months building a diorama for our N-scale model train, which we got shortly after getting married.  While living in Florida, we had the train for my younger cousins to enjoy . . . us too!  It was packed away when the cousins grew up and we moved to Tennessee.  Now that our nieces and nephews are that perfect age, we decided it was time to build it anew!  Wes constructed the stand out of wood, planning the basic shape of the town, as well as figuring out where streams and mountains would be, before carefully laying down the track and securing it.

building a model N scale train set

Deciding to make it two levels, with two trains running in different directions, he began building the basic shape of the mountains, cliffs and waterfalls with bubble wrap, using tape to secure it.

Siegrists building a model train set2

Together, we carefully coated the underlying structure with layers of newspaper dipped in plaster, letting each layer dry completely in between coats.  We were delighted to see it finally starting to take shape at this point, and I’ll be sharing more of our progress on future blog posts, so watch for it!

Siegrists building a model train set3

We celebrated little Chance’s 4th Birthday one evening this past week, where his chocolate birthday cake was a big hit with us all!  One of his favorite gifts was a bag of pipe cleaners which Wes and he shaped into assorted sea creatures, while he sat in his river tube we gave him, covered with sharks on top! The next morning we to the river for a short while, and even felt the welcomed warmth of the sun on our backs for a few short blissful minutes, whilst happily floating around on the BIG yellow duck with our little buddy Chance!

rachelle siegrist on a rubber duck float
Everyone’s smiling . . . even the duck!

I joined friends Sharon and Tom a couple of times, heading to the river to take advantage of the raised water levels thanks to the recent rain!  A loud roar could be heard before we even climbed down to the water’s edge, the turbulent cascades turning much of the river white!  “Awesome . . . This is perfect!”  I said, as we jumped on our tubes and started down the whitewater adventure!

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Ooooooooo . . . That’s SO cold!!!!

One run in particular was really great, as the higher water level covered all rocks in our path, with big choppy waves sending me bouncing up and over each one, with many causing me to leave the water entirely!  Needless to say, this adrenaline junkie had a blast, and I couldn’t resist hooping and hollering with sheer glee as I went flying down!

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Hold on . . . we’re going down!!!


Wes and I were thrilled to be recently asked if we’d like to be Artists in Residency at the beautiful Woodson Art Museum!  Not only did we both have paintings selected for the upcoming prestigious 42nd Birds in Art exhibition held there starting September 9th, but will be demonstrating, teaching and lecturing on the art of painting miniatures for a full week later this fall!  I will be sharing more info on this exciting event as it draws closer!

Siegrist Residency, Woodson Art Museum 2017

I’m honored that Trailside Galleries in Jackson Hole, WY chose my turtle painting to highlight the current show of Society of Animal Artists members!

siegirst paintings at Trailside Galleries SAA

There’s still time to see and acquire our miniature paintings now on view as part of the Society of animal Artists Exhibition, at Trailside Gallery in Jackson Hole, WY.  They will remain there through august 31st.

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

While continuing to paint on a couple of commissions that are surprise gifts, I also finished a miniature painting of a beautiful gator this past week.  Having always loved alligators since I was old enough to crawl, I really enjoy painting these amazing reptiles!

alligator painting
My “Basking Juvenile Gator”

Wes recently finished his painting of this gorgeous backlit sparrow precariously perched atop a most uncomfortable looking cactus, thus it’s appropriate title “On Pins and Needles”!

bird painting by Wes Siegrist
“On Pins and Needles” by Wes

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle