A Week of Celebrations!

“It takes a long time to grow young.”
Pablo Picasso

Wes and I enjoying my fun and yummy birthday dinner!

A week of celebrations it has been, and it started off with my birthday on Tuesday! Last Monday evening, our dear friends Fred and Barb, picked Wes and I up to take us to a mystery restaurant to celebrate my birthday. I thought it was exciting not knowing where we were going, and after a nice, lovely ride through the Park, we ended up in Gatlinburg at the new Melting Pot restaurant. Never having been there before, we were all intrigued to see what type of dining experience we were in for. Birthday balloons, along with a bar of dark chocolate awaited me at our table for the evening. After deciding what we would be eating, we began our fondue journey with a delicious spinach and artichoke cheese dip. The main entrée was quite entertaining with all of us trying to cook our scallops and other seafood at the same time, especially since Barb had all three of her dipping forks loaded and in there at times! As we went along on our cooking journey, it seemed that every other shrimp or scallop had missing parts, when removed from the cooking pot. This led me to believe that perhaps Nessie, the Lockness monster, was lurking somewhere below, in the steaming broth, and was sneakily taking small bites of our food offerings. Nearly an hour and a half had passed by this time, and with sore stomachs from much laughter we anxiously awaited the prize of the evening . . . the pot of dark chocolate fondue!! Along with the fondue, came a birthday plate of chocolate covered strawberries and cherries for me, which I shared, as well as a plate for both couples, filled with delectable little treats to be dipped in the scrumptious melted chocolate! This was by far the favorite course of the evening for us all, and we carefully scraped every bit of remaining chocolate from the pot until it was squeaky clean!  The evening became a great memory!

Mmmmm . . . I’m obviously dreaming of the next chocolate bite to come,

while Fred, Barb and Wes smile nicely for the photo!

We spent my birthday on Tuesday, hiking to beautiful Andrew’s Bald off of Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was a gorgeous day as we drove the lovely winding road that leads up to the trailhead and began our hiking journey. The air was crisp and cool with temperatures in the upper 40’s to low 50’s, and felt delightful to us after the past heat wave! Even though I was covered in goose bumps during the first hour of the hike, I was totally enjoying this wonderful refreshing treat, in my short sleeve shirt! Several of the spring wild flowers were still blooming as we walked along, as well as numerous Catawba Rhododendrons. Some of the Rhododendrons had dropped many of their delicate petals, creating a pink carpet covering the narrow path below. Before long we found ourselves leaving the secluded, dark tunnel of the woods and walking into the beginning of the open area of the bald. As we stepped out into the clearing, we could see the great number of Flame Azaleas that were blooming, covering the bushes in a variety of oranges and yellows! We walked along the grassy bald until we found a nice secluded spot that was perfect for our picnic lunch. While we sat there admiring the grand view, the Hummingbirds visited the Azaleas that were blooming nearby, blessing us with the lovely treat of watching and admiring them!

Me atop beautiful Andrew’s Bald.

Beside the gorgeous blooms of the Flame Azaleas and Catawba Rhododendrons.

Having plenty of time and a gorgeous day at hand, we decide to walk down another trail for awhile. There were several occasions at which we stopped to take photos of the graceful Swallowtail Butterflies drinking from the Azaleas, as we walked along the path which quickly became much narrower. It then turned from a dry path, to a rocky path with water running along, turning it into a regular small stream bed at times. At a couple of places there were small pools of water accumulated, and they were quite lovely with pink flower petals floating on its surface. Going some distance, we decide to turn around and head back. The hike back was wonderful as well, with the afternoon breeze having changed directions and feeling a bit warmer. We were both so impressed with the wonderful job that the Trails Forever group has done in redoing parts of this trail, and I hope that someday we too will be able to volunteer in helping to create such great, lasting trails for people to enjoy!

A beautiful Swallowtail enjoys the sweet nectar of the Flame Azalea.

Wes along part of the improved trail leading to Andrew’s Bald.

We made up much of our missed play time, of the last month, this past week. So Wednesday morning, bright and early, we headed into Cade’s Cove to ride our bikes around the loop. It was another beautiful and cool morning as we started and were greeted right away with a grouping of Turkeys, mostly Tom’s that were strutting about. It was quite a sight to see as there were at least eight Tom’s at one point strutting around, while the unimpressed females went about eating and totally ignoring these guys that were obviously quite impressed with themselves! Then we saw something we’ve not seen before and that was a grouping of three Toms that stayed right together as they walked about slowly while strutting. No matter what direction they went in, they stayed together, creating a most peculiar show, appearing as if they were sewn together about the tail feathers! Several more Turkeys and Whitetail Deer were seen as we went around, and when we reached Dan Lawson’s place, there was a mommy Black Bear with her three very adorable and curious cubs. We left after having watched them, as they headed into the old orchard that was left there by the last remaining resident, Kermit. By the time we finished riding the loop it was lunch time and we were quite hungry, so we enjoyed our picnic by the stream, before returning home.

Taking a minute to enjoy the beautiful scenery during our bike ride around Cade’s Cove.

The three amigos coming . . . . . . .

 . . . . . . . . . and going!!

Mommy bear with two of her cubs ahead.

Yesterday, we enjoyed a lovely party at our neighbor friends, Judy and Ernie’s home, for their 25th Wedding Anniversary. Many neighbors and friends gathered for lots of great conversation and yummy treats! Judy made the beautiful cake, being the same type that had been made for their wedding, and it was delicious! Today we’re in great anticipation as we get ready for the arrival of my family tomorrow! Aunt NoNo and Uncle Wes have lots of things planned for Tyler and Haydyn to do while they’re visiting the mountains!

Fresh off the easel: I’m working on a miniature painting of an adorable Prairie Dog with its mouth totally crammed full of grass. I’m not quite done yet, but alas it’s getting close, and I’m continuing to have lots of fun with this one! Wes finished his miniature of a grouping of Swallowtail Butterflies enjoying the nectar of some of the pretty Cone Flower blooms in our front yard.

My Prairie Dog painting in progress.
"Butterfly Buffet" by Wes, is 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches.

I want to wish my Dad, Larry, and my Father-n-law, George, a Very Happy Father’s Day!! And a very happy one as well, to all of your dads out there!

Until next time ~ Rachelle 🙂

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6 thoughts on “A Week of Celebrations!

  1. Tracy

    Happy Birthday Rachelle! Your new paintings are super and what a stunning area you live in. Great shots of the turkeys!!

    1. Hi Tracy,
      Thank you, I had a lovely one, and thanks for the compliments! Yes, we feel very blessed to live in such a beautiful area!! I really enjoyed watching those turkeys, as they were pretty funny 🙂
      Rachelle

  2. Bill Mundy

    Hi Rachelle,
    Here’s wishing you a very happy – and belated – birthday. You souded as if you had a lot of fun. That trio of turkeys looked fantastic. What a fabulous picture.
    Love from Bill

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