Another Birthday Already?

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
~ John Muir

And receive we did, this past week, as we spent part of a couple of days in the woods. Wednesday morning we rose early, ate a quick bite and drove into nearby Cades Cove. Once there, we unloaded the bikes and we were off, starting our wonderful journey around the eleven-mile loop road that is closed to vehicles Wednesday and Saturday mornings throughout the summer until 10 AM. The Turkeys were the first to greet us, as they casually walked about in the open fields, void of the sounds of passing cars. It was a cool start as we descended our first hill, enjoying the effortless ride, which came abruptly to an end once we reached the first hill, which had to be peddled up. It seemed as we rounded many of the curves making up the winding road, deer could be seen quietly eating the tender young sprouts along the ground, or more turkey would appear.

photo of deer in cades cove

A few deer in the field

photo of cades cove

Standing by my trusty “steel horse”

We had ridden for about half an hour when we noticed a small group of people stopped and quietly watching something. It was a gorgeous, healthy young Black Bear, completely oblivious to this small gathering of admirers, as he pawed at a fallen log, which was now rotten and obviously a perfect home for plump, juicy grubs, which the bear was finding and enjoying. We watched him for several minutes before continuing our journey, looking forward to what may be discovered around the next bend in the road. We stopped at the halfway point for a refreshing drink, and then continued on, stopping shortly there after to admire a gorgeous clump of bright, orange mushrooms. They were amazing, so of course I had to get a photograph of them! Onward we went downhill, then … uphill, deciding once again that indeed, it is much more fun going downhill than uphill. Nonetheless, we went rounding each curve until we had reached the prime spot for seeing and photographing the stunning Rhododendrons. The loveliest spot of all was by the stream, where the moving water was surrounded by the blossom-laden native evergreens. Before long we were back to the picnic area, and loading our bikes back into the van. Funny how time seems to fly when you’re having fun!

photo in cades cove

A lovely section along the journey

photo in cades cove

Wes poses by the mushrooms to show the size of them

photo of orange shelf mushroom

A close up of the gorgeous mushrooms

photo of rhododendrons in cades cove

A lovely section of a stream in Cades Cove

This past Thursday was my birthday, and we had planned to spend it hiking to Le Conte. However, uncertain weather predicted for later that afternoon, and a recent severe toe injury . . . yes I said “toe”, which I embarrassingly admit that I acquired at Wal-Mart, kept us from doing the long day hike. So instead, we went to pizza Hut for lunch and then hiked to one of my favorite waterfalls nearby for the afternoon. It was perfect timing, as the Rhododendrons were still in full splendor and the wild Huckleberries were starting to get ripe . . . yummy! So up we went, hiking over rocks and along the edges, stopping occasionally to admire the blossoms and eat some Huckleberries, which are sweeter than their tame cousins, blueberries. We reached the falls, and a couple that had been sitting in and enjoying one of our favorite spots was leaving, and thus we had it all to ourselves for sometime. It was the perfect setting to enjoy eating a couple of miniature (why of course), Krispy Crème crullers, which served as my birthday cake, and a very tasty one at that! While sitting there on a giant rock hanging over the pool of water below, we watched the minnows swimming peacefully beneath us. Then all of a sudden total chaos took over, as a few crumbs from the doughnuts had fallen in, causing a war to break out as the once peaceable minnows began fighting over the delectable little crumbs! It reminded me of the movie “The gods must be crazy” where the once peaceful village turned to complete turmoil after a glass coke bottle had been dropped by a plane flying over and discovered. Thankfully, soon after the few crumbs had been devoured, it seemed to turn back into the peaceful little minnow village that it once was. It left us with a thought however, “Behold the power of Krispy Cremes!” . . . ha ha!!!

photo of spruce flat falls

Resting by the falls

photo of spruce flat falls

Mmmm . . . . enjoying my mini Krispy Creme doughnut

picking huckleberries

Wes picks some Huckleberries for us

photo of spruce flat falls

The falls surrounded by blooming Rhododendrons

After a lovely rest while enjoying the beauty of the falls, and imagining how delightful it would be if the water was warm and we could enjoy swimming there, we started our hike back down, whilst stopping of course to eat a few more huckleberries along the way . . . and don’t worry, we saved plenty for the Black Bears. We had planned to grill out for supper that evening, but after looking at a few clouds in the sky and then checking out the weather radar, we decided that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea, so we made a lovely pasta dish and began eating it on the back porch. It began to drizzle and then pour, great, big drops of rain, and when the lightning suddenly became almost constant, we quickly moved indoors. Minutes afterwards, a severe hailstorm broke out beating down many of my flowers and doing a number on the garden. Then tremendous winds joined in causing the trees to sway, almost appearing as if they were going to touch the ground, while torrential downpours fell! The hail finally stopped and then minutes later started falling once again. Then to top it all off, we lost power. When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, so after a shower by flashlight, we set up our laptop on a TV tray in the living room and watched a DVD of a wonderful old black and white movie. So it was indeed a very interesting grand finale to my birthday! Then Friday evening we were invited for dinner at our dear friends, Fred and Barb’s house. It was a delicious one too, consisting of a delightful salad made with lots of fresh veggies from their garden, and a delicious pasta dish along with garlic bread. It was then time for our major chocolate fix, as they brought out a lovely birthday cake, and after quickly blowing out the candles, we all began to devour it! Later we enjoyed playing a game of Mexican Train dominoes, and did more laughing than anything it seems!

photo of a chocolate birthday cake

A very happy birthday girl with chocolate of course!

Currently on the easel:  I’m currently in the early stages of painting a miniature of a lady working at a spinning wheel, bathed by the sunlight coming in through a nearby window.  I took the photo of this setting at our local Smoky Mountain Heritage Museum, during one of their special events.  Wes is currently painting on a miniature of a beautiful section of woods dressed in its finest fall splendor and color!
portrait miniature painting

My miniature painting in progress

miniature lanscape painting

Wes’ miniature painting in progress

~ Events and Exhibitions of Our Paintings This Week ~

EXQUISITE MINIATURES BY WES AND RACHELLE SIEGRIST at the Nevada State Museum, Carson City, NV (Fifty of our miniature paintings are on display and available for purchase!)

  Blossom II: Art of Flowers at the Greenacres Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH

51st Society of Animal Artists “Art & the Animal” Exhibition at the Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala, FL

Art of the Dive: Portraits of the Deep at the Wildlife Experience, Parker (Denver), CO

8th Annual Heartland Art Guild Miniatures Art Show at the Miami County Historical Museum, Paola, KS

To view all our many exhibits:

“Collect the future’s history today while it is still affordable.”

Wishing a Very Happy Father’s Day to my own special Dad, my Father-n-Law

and to all of you Dads out there!!

Until next time ~ Rachelle


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