Water, Land And Sky

Kayaking and Hiking With Friends!

By Rachelle Siegrist

rachelle siegrist kayaking

We were blessed with a couple days of blue skies and sunshine here in the Smokies this past week, and what a treat it was! There’s a saying “Make hay while the sun shines”, and when it shines as rarely as it has here the past couple of months, it makes you want to take advantage of the rain-free days! So Wes and I did just that, spending a few hours out on the water kayaking. It was cloudy when we started out, and very windy, but at least it wasn’t raining and we were out on the water, so it was a great day! Paddling a new area, we found a short, narrow winding creek, going up it as far as we could. There, the water became shallow, with numerous small cascades upstream, so it was the perfect spot for a boat picnic.

rachelle siegrist with bald eagles
With the two Bald Eagles in the trees to the left 

We relaxingly sat there, watching a large flock of warblers flit around the surrounding bushes and trees, while being serenaded by the peaceful sounds of running water.  We saw Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and several other warblers, as well as Kingfishers, in our cozy little section of the creek.  Whilst paddling afterwards, we saw two adult Bald Eagles sitting in a couple of trees nearby.  At one point one of them called out that very distinctive sound, and it was most beautiful!  Then as I slowly passed beneath, I saw one looking directly down at me, it’s eyes appearing almost crosseyed, with the way they look forward at things, and for a few amazing seconds it was as if we two were the only ones around!

rachelle siegrist by waterfall
Yeah the water’s cold, but it’s always cold here!

It was such a peaceful day, and the world was ours, save for one boat with fishermen, as we continued exploring this new area.  We could hear rushing water in the distance and it grew louder as we got closer.  Getting out and walking up the bank, we excitedly discovered a couple of small waterfalls, which were quite lovely!  The cool, overcast day, provided a great opportunity to check out this rocky area, that would surely be full of snakes on a warm sunny day.  Although I could’ve happily stayed there, it was time to climb back into our kayaks and start heading back to the ramp.  The wind was blowing so hard much of the time, that waves were white capping and spraying us with water each time we paddled as they crashed against the front of our kayaks.

Thankfully it finally died down and the rest of the trip was mostly smooth paddling!  After returning and loading our kayaks, we sat for awhile enjoying the amazing view!  I was instantly mesmerized by both the warmth of the sun on my skin and watching the thousands of sun sparkles dance about the water’s surface.  I could’ve easily stayed there the remainder of the day!

rachelle siegrist
Ah . . . sun and water!  

We chose to go on a hike with friends Tom and Sharon on one of the sunny days.  Since it offers numerous open views in the winter months, we decided to hike the Little Greenbrier Trail, which runs the ridge lines up from the Walker Sisters Cabin.  Wes and I hadn’t hiked this trail in many years, and couldn’t believe the growth in Wears Valley since we last saw it from up there.  It was a beautiful sunny day and not a cloud in the sky as we walked along, and I had to constantly stop to pet the large clumps of moss and deer lichen that lined the path, that were so soft to the touch due to so much rain.

rachelle siegrist hiking in the smokies
Where did Wes go?
wes siegrist hiking in the smokies
Oh . . . There he is!

We finished our hike in time to ride up on the new recently opened section of the Foothills Parkway, which offers stunning views of Townsend, Wears Valley and the Great Smoky National Park beyond.  With the clear skies, we could see forever and felt as if we were on top of the world!

rachelle siegrist on foothills parkway

~ Fresh Off The Easel ~

Wes recently finished his painting of  Lubber Grasshopper, which he photographed during one of our kayaking adventures.  Next week I’ll be sharing my frog with you.

“Eastern Lubber Grasshopper” by-Wes

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EXQUISITE MINIATURES ~ Meet The Artists Reception

At The Hickory Museum of Art 

This coming Sunday, January 20th ~ from 2 to 4 PM

We are looking forward to visiting this beautiful museum and if you are in, or going to be visiting the area, we would love to see you there!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


When Waterfalls Roar


Hiking to a Waterfall With Visiting Friends!

By Rachelle Siegrist

hike with rachelle and wes siegrist
Wes, me, Blake, Paul, Naomi, Cheryl and Janet

Wow . . . we’ve had a lot of rainfall here in the Smokies once again this past week!  It’s felt much like the movie “Groundhog Day” where we wake each morning to the same thing, gray skies bringing rain at some point during most days, while the moss and mold continues to grow at an alarming rate!  Thankfully however, the sun finally came out yesterday and it felt like nothing short of a true miracle after not seeing it for weeks!  Even the squirrels were finding the perfect sunlit locations, where they laid very still, whilst enjoying the warmth of the sun, so much so that it caused their little eyes to close! I told them I know exactly how they feel, as I couldn’t get enough of it either!

hiking with rachelle siegrist

The Little River which runs through Townsend, has been way up, and waterfalls in the nearby National Park were flowing big time!  So we decided to get a firsthand glimpse at one of the waterfalls, while hiking with friends visiting from Florida this past week.  The trail was the muddiest we’ve ever seen it, and of course the waterfall was roaring!  We enjoyed spending some time at the base of it, while taking in massive amounts of negative ions, and as always it was a great time hiking to the falls and back!  Afterwards we treated our tastebuds to a yummy hot pizza from our local Pizza Hut.  Wes and I also enjoyed playing Mexican Dominoes with a few neighbor friends at our house one evening.  Unbelievably it was warm enough to have the backdoor open that evening, and we were serenaded by a massive wind storm moving through our area,  sounding much like a huge mad sea the entire time!

~ Fresh Off The Easel ~

Poor Wes rung in the New Year with lots of tech problems with several websites he maintains, and email accounts were completely offline for most of a day!  He spent countless hours on the phone with the new web hosting company, as well as hours getting everything fixed and switched over.  Life was so much simpler before the internet, and times like this make one long for those simpler days!  Two weeks later and all is hopefully working normal again.  He did manage to get in a little painting time on the easel while working on a grasshopper.  I’m getting closer to finishing my frog painting and am amazed everyday how many marks I end up painting in and it’s still not finished!

frog painting by rachelle siegrist
My frog painting in progress

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Visiting The Speed Art Museum

Visiting Wes’ Family and The Speed Art Museum!

By Rachelle Siegrist

hike with rachelle siegrist 2
Wes and Greg hiking the farm

Wes and I arrived in Southern Indiana last Saturday afternoon, just in time to enjoy a hike around Wes’ brother Greg’s recently purchased farm, and after driving in heavy holiday traffic, it was a welcome treat!  They have received as much rain there as we have here in the Smokies, so we had to wear rubber boots to hike through the muddy trail.  The sun came out to boot, making it even better, and I don’t know who enjoyed it more, me or Greg’s precious dog Zeus!  It was such fun exploring the woods and small old abandoned outbuildings, such as a canning house and hunting cabin, with Opossum Lodge primatively painted on the outside.


Zeus and an interesting mushroom by the creek

The next afternoon we were in for another treat, as we headed to Speed Art Museum located in nearby Louisville.  It had been a few years since we had been there, and it is always a joy for Wes and I to be able to visit this wonderful museum, while spending hours admiring the vast collections!

rachelle wes siegrist speed art museum
Wes’ Dad said to stand against the wall, so I did…Ha Ha

I always find favorites while visiting, and this painting of “Springtime” by Norman Rockwell was one of them this time, bringing to mind green leaves, flowers and ample sunshine!

norman rockwell painting springtime
Ah . . . I love Norman Rockwell and Springtime!

The collection of still life paintings on display are always amazing, with many of the Dutch Masters stealing the show, with numerous wee surprises, such as dragonflies, butterflies, and other tiny critters located throughout the highly detailed paintings.

speed art museum rachelle siegrist
Jeanie and I looking closely at one of the many beautiful still life paintings

Another amazing room to visit is the English Renaissance Room, moved there from England and reassembled inside the museum.  It makes one feel as if you’ve slipped back in time hundreds of years, and are standing inside a vast castle!

speed art museum wes siegrist
Wes and George stand in the English Renaissance Room

Wes and I are always excited to see miniature paintings, such as this Cabinet Miniature of “Venus and Mars” by Johannes Rottenhammer.

johannes rottenhammer venus and mars at speed art museum

I thought it most interesting to see where there term cabinet miniature originated long ago, and is told in the photo below.

cabinet miniature johannes rottenhammer venus and mars

Getting to see a Book of Hours in person is always a real treat as well, since the gold and silver absolutely shimmer and gleam paired against the brilliant colors of egg tempera!

book of hours at speed art museum
A Book of Hours from about 1430-1440

Another highlight of the visit was riding in this brilliant hot pink elevator, which I absolutely fell in love with!  Even though I always take the stairs, I chose to ride on this happy bright elevator, featuring my favorite color!

rachelle siegrist at speed art museum
Best elevator ever!

Christmas Eve and day were spent with family at Wes’ parents house, and Zeus and I enjoyed several nice long walks and games of stick and ball throwing and catching in yard.  Of course we had to watch Home Alone one evening as that’s a tradition for me, and although I’ve seen it dozens of times, I still laugh like it was the first!  We’re now back in the studio with paintings on the easels!

wes and rachelle siegrist
Karen, Tony, Jeanie, me and Wes

~ Fresh Off The Easel ~

I’ve finished painting a collection consisting of six tiny, round miniatures featuring different songbirds painted on silk.  This collection includes, a Carolina Chickadee, Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, American Goldfinch and a Blue Jay. My collection of “Songbirds on Silk” will debut at the upcoming Southeastern Wildlife Exhibition in Charleston, SC. in February.

My “Songbirds on Silk”

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle