Celebrating At Dolly Parton’s Celebration

Dolly Parton’s Celebration Dinner Show!

By Rachelle Siegrist


rachelle and wes siegrist at dolly parton's celebration
Barb, Fred, me and Wes


We celebrated our friend Barb’s Birthday at Dolly Parton’s Celebration Dinner Show one evening this past week, and had a wonderful time!  It was certainly a high energy show, mesmerizing us from beginning to end, starting with a group of singing acrobatic “chefs”.  The next group came out flipping and flying through the air, and before we knew it, they had three tall poles erected and secured in place.  Immediately they commenced climbing the poles while hanging and swinging off of them, and a couple of guys even held themselves out perpendicular with only their arms!

Dolly Parton's Celebration 2

I felt like a broken record, as I couldn’t refrain from saying “Wow” over and over again, as I watched the compelling acts.  The next amazing feat was a guy who juggled several things, but when he started juggling flaming axes, the crowd went wild!

Dolly Parton's Celebration

Next up was yet another strongman, who performed numerous poses while standing on his hands atop two small elevated bars no less, but when he stood on one hand while balancing, all were even more impressed!

Dolly Parton's Celebration 3

While all were still in amazement after the last performance, a guy came out with a large ring into which he climbed, and began rolling around on the stage. While doing all sorts of tricks and poses, he went faster and faster around in circles. I thought to myself that this looked like great fun, as long as you didn’t eat just before trying it!

After that, they brought out two big trampolines with a tall, see-through box placed in between.  Four limber guys took turns jumping from one trampoline to the other while doing flips in the air and trading places.  I thought this too looked like great fun and told Wes that we needed one of those in our own backyard!

Upon removing the trampolines, a seesaw was brought out, and with a fellow standing on one end, two others would jump off of the stacked barrels, landing on the other end and sending the guy soaring up into the air, where he flipped and rolled before landing on a cushion held by the others.

Two very excited Labrador dogs got in on the action too, with their own amazing feats, as they leapt from the dock, flying through the air, and grabbing a suspended object before crashing into the water below!  They couldn’t get enough of it, and one even refused to give up the first prized object in its mouth, leaping and grabbing the other one as well, before crashing into the water.

Dolly Parton's Celebration 15

Two funny guys came out and entertained during set changes each time, and before we knew it, we were in for more action.  This time a big red moveable metal pendulum was brought out and a guy jumped in and started walking, making it go around like a hamster in its wheel. Once again I informed Wes that we really needed one of these contraptions in our backyard, as I could SO see myself having a blast on that thing!  Round and round he went, even getting on the outside and jumping rope at one point!

Dolly Parton's Celebration 20

Toward the end, a couple dressed in white walked out onto the stage and began climbing suspended ropes, gracefully intertwining in numerous poses whilst swinging round and round.  Amazingly he even held her with his feet at one point as they flew across the stage!   Dolly’s song “I Will Always Love You” rang out as they “danced” while suspended in mid-air and it was truly magical.  As as you can imagine I told Wes, “We need two ropes like that in our backyard so we can do that!

It was a wonderful evening and the food was yummy too, but I would’ve much rather been down there swinging, flipping and bouncing, as that looked like such great fun!

~ Recently off the Easels ~

It’s been a very busy week once again here in the Siegrist studio, with Wes spending quite a bit of time with his SAA office work, and getting some easel time in as well.  I finished my latest painting, featuring B.J. one of my beloved resident Blue Jays, who remains my friend as long as I offer him treats. He has a mouthful of Spanish Moss in the painting, as that was their favorite past time this past spring, collecting my moss to use in their nests.

Blue Jay painting by Rachelle Siegrist
My “B.J.”

Wes finished his painting of Barn Swallows nesting in the roof of an old boathouse, this past week.  We watched these little beauties while kayaking on Fall Creek Lake this past Spring, and they seemed to love nesting atop the light fixtures, which we’re sure gave off warmth, hence the wonderful title”The Incubator“.

swallow painting by Wes Siegrist
Wes’ “The Incubator”

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Snorkeling in Clear Mountain Streams

Snorkeling in The Great Smoky Mountains!

By Rachelle Siegrist

rachelle siegrist snorkeling

In the cool…clear…water… That’s where we happily spent some time this past week while snorkeling once again!  Actually, it’s very cold water and that’s why my wetsuit is one of my new best friends!  Once that thin layer of cold water inside gets warmed up, I can stay in the water for a couple of hours now whilst snorkeling and swimming, and it’s wonderful!  I have so missed being able to swim and snorkel during the past 17 years of living here in the Smokies, and am truly delighted to be able to once again enjoy these favorite pastimes of mine!

rachelle siegrist snorkeling3

We headed to a favorite swimming spot one morning this past week, with friends Tom and Sharon joining us.  While snorkeling we saw lots of fish including big schools numbering fifty or more, of chub and other pretty minnows.  They seem drawn to my hot pink mask, and come right up to it, staying with me as I swim along.  I watched as a group of three big Rock Bass seemed to be having a conference, as they were chatting it up, by touching fins and swimming in certain ways close to one another, at one point one of them even had his mouth wide open, appearing to really be talking . . . Haha!  In a couple of the deep green pools, huge River Redhorses slowly swam beneath me, with there being ten of them at one point!

rachelle siegrist snorkeling4

In other pools, I spotted a couple of Rainbow Trout, which are always so beautiful to me, as well as numerous Warpaint Shiners, and even a Crawfish. The bright sunlight streamed down through the deep clear water, creating a dazzling display of brilliant patterns of light dancing about on the rocks and sand bottom below.  Watching it, I instantly became mesmerized by this natural light show, through which fish came and went.

rachelle siegrist snorkeling2

Having swum and snorkeled for a long time, we got out to enjoy a picnic lunch on the stone covered beach, with me opting to dine in my tube whilst floating about.  Thankfully the rains held off long enough for us to enjoy a beautiful morning on the water, and after lunch, it was time for some tubing.  We really enjoyed riding down a narrow rock-lined passage, which I called the miniature grand canyon of the Smokies. We tubed this particular shorter section many times over, going down backward at times, adding interest to our floating adventures.

rachelle siegrist tubing

Soon clouds started forming and growing fast, doubling in size in what seemed mere seconds, so Sharon and I decided if we were going to go further down the river, we had better go ahead and get started before rainstorms hit.  There were a few light drops as we started floating down and within a minute, it was raining pretty good!  The beautiful setting became so serene as thousands of raindrops danced upon the surface of the river creating ripples everywhere you looked.  We were the only ones in the river as we floated down laughing like giddy schoolgirls, as I sang out “We’re tubing in the rain . . . just tubing in the rain . . . what a glorious feelin’ . . . we’re happy again!”  And yes, I do believe those are the memories that one takes through life with them.

rachelle siegrist tubing2

~ Recently off the Easels ~

It’s been a very busy week once again here in the Siegrist studio, with Wes spending quite a bit of time with his SAA office work, and also getting some time in at the easel.  I finished my latest dog portrait commission of an adorable Chocolate Lab named Cricket, whose playing peek-a-boo.  I couldn’t help but smile the entire time I painted this too cute miniature painting!

chocolate lab painting, dog painting by Rachelle Siegrist, commission a dog painting2
Cricket with my fingers and brush for scale.


And here is the finished painting!

chocolate lab painting, dog painting by Rachelle Siegrist, commission a dog painting
“Peek-A-Boo with Cricket”


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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Big Balloons…A Little Dog and A Pig

The Great Smoky Mountains Hot AirBalloon Festival!

By Rachelle Siegrist

Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival

Almost a month ago now, Townsend’s sky was filled with the vivid colors of numerous hot air balloons!  Wes and I had walked down with some friends to see the splendid show, arriving shortly before dusk.  Of course, my favorite balloon was a huge turtle, complete with a head, legs and a cute tail, and was totally adorable!

Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival 3

We watched as they carefully inflated the last couple of balloons, and then it was time to patiently wait for the sky to grow dark.  Clouds building in the darkening sky behind added even more dramatic beauty to the setting.  Watching as they took turns lighting up, I noticed that the moon was directly above my next favorite balloon, which was pink and purple.

Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival 2

The sound of roaring flames filled the late evening sky as they continued to fill their balloons.  The darker the sky grew, the more brilliant the large balloons became, appearing as huge Chinese lanterns in the sky, with the dark outline of the mountains behind contrasting beautifully against the bright balloons and warm colors of the sunset.

Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival 1

Quickly the sun dipped behind the distant hills, and the sky grew dark, causing the balloons to glow!  Several times, a voice over a loudspeaker would count to three, then all of the balloons would light up at the same time, creating a delightful spectacle of illumination!  Each time the large crowd would applaud and cheer as they looked on with awe.  Then as quickly as the light show started it ended, as the building clouds had turned into a large thunderhead, the lightning creating its own natural show of illumination!

Great Smoky mountain hot air balloon festival4

We got a chance to use our new wetsuits again this past week while snorkeling in the river early one morning. We snorkeled several different pools and sections, seeing everything from a large bass to crawfish sporting bright red tails.  I even came upon a large watersnake while snorkeling, which I must admit caught me off guard, taking my breath away for a second!  I’m SO delighted to be able to swim and snorkel once again, and my wetsuit is certainly one of my new best friends!

rachelle siegrist
Here fishy . . . fishy

Two of our dear friends Bill and Darlene recently sold their 2nd home here in the Smokies and headed back to Florida for good this past week, so we along with them and friends Fred and Barb, enjoyed a farewell dinner party at Huck Finn’s Catfish Restaurant in Pigeon Forge last Sunday evening. We have so enjoyed their friendship over the years, and are going to miss them greatly!

huck finn's catfish pigeon forge
Bill, Wes, me, Fred and Barb at Huck Finn’s Catfish

~ Recently off the Easels ~

It’s been a very busy week here in the studio once again, with Wes and I both finishing miniature paintings.  My painting is a dog commission of a precious little Yorkie named Lily.  Sadly she is no longer with her family, but will remind them of many wonderful memories with her, through her adorable portrait!  I have to say she was great fun to paint, bringing a smile to my face continually!

Yorkie paitning by rachelle siegrist
Painting the final touches on Lily

And voila . . . the final portrait painting!

yorkie painting by Rachelle Siegrist

Wes finished his painting of an adorable pig who lived at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center located here in the Great Smoky Mountains.  She was enjoying the shade of the old barn after having just eaten, and we so enjoyed watching her for quite a while.

cute pig painting by Wes Siegrist
“Bashful” by Wes

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle