A Visit From Family and Friends!

Me with my good friend Dallas and his fiancée Kelly

It’s always a treat to enjoy a visit from our family and friends, and that’s just what we did this past week. It started off with a visit from my good friend Dallas, whom I had not seen in over twenty years! It was a real treat to see him once again and meet his sweet fiancée, Kelly. We enjoyed spending the afternoon together reminiscing about the “good ole’ days”, when our families camped together in Cataloochee, NC, when we were both teenagers. We laughed and talked about the numerous hikes in the mountains, to see waterfalls, large virgin timber, in beautiful weather and sometimes very severe thunderstorms! Lots of great memories were remembered, and the four of us are looking forward to hopefully seeing each other more often now. Later that evening, Wes’ parents arrived from IN to stay with us for a week. We enjoyed my homemade spaghetti for supper, while catching up on happenings from the past couple of months. Tuesday, we headed for Knoxville, to the beautiful Ijams Nature Center, as we had not yet been there. Along the way, we stopped at a Chipotle’s for lunch, near the UT campus, where I’m sure the four of us were the oldest ones there . . . ha! It was a gorgeous fall day as we arrived at the Ijams Center, and after enjoying the exhibitions in the nature center we enjoyed walking around a couple of the hiking trails. One such trail led to a river boardwalk that ran some distance right alongside the Tennessee River, and was quite beautiful. As soon as I approached it, a Great Blue Heron silently and gracefully flew right by. Once we reached the small cave opening on the boardwalk, Wes spotted a beautiful little water snake resting directly below.

photo at Ijams Nature Center
George on the River Boardwalk at the Ijams Nature Center
photo at Ijams Nature Center
Some really cool looking buckled rock along the boardwalk trail
photo of fall leaves
Beautiful fall foliage in my favorite color . . . pink!

We walked another trail and then headed for Mead’s Quarry, where we walked part of a trail there. Once an important Tennessee Marble Quarry, it is now a rugged natural area with 25-acre lake and gorgeous views. Stone from Mead’s Quarry was used in numerous local and national buildings and monuments. It was quite lovely surrounded by the fall color, and I’m looking forward to returning to see and photograph the “Keyhole”, an amazing stone structure located on the Ross Marble Quarry Loop trail. Leaving there, we enjoyed supper, and stopped by to pick up our newsletters, which we put together and sent out a couple of days later to our collectors. Wednesday, Wes had to remain at home, just as he did on Monday, to wait for shipped paintings to arrive via FedEx, so his parents and I had to explore on our own. We left after lunch and drove up the Foothills Parkway, and it was stunning with the fall foliage reaching its peak! Every overlook was another opportunity for an incredible view! After sometime we had reached our destination for the afternoon, the hike up to the Look Rock Tower. Enjoying the walk through the forest filled with yellows, oranges and reds, we came to the tower and began our ascent along the ramp leading to the top. What a spectacular view we were greeted with once we reached the top with brilliant, cloudless blue skies above and fall foliage below! After taking in the view, and several photos we started our journey back down.

photo at Mead's Quarry
Me with the beautiful Mead’s Quarry behind
photo at lookrock tower
George, Jeanie and me on Lookrock Tower

Thursday morning we packed a picnic lunch and headed back up to the Foothills Parkway, where the drive was beautiful once again and reached the end, where we had a wonderful picnic in the warm sun, complete with a great view of the lake. Leaving there we headed up the Cherohala Skyway, and were once again blessed with a ride through spectacular fall foliage! As we got closer to our destination however, the leaves became more and more bare, until by the time we reached the trailhead for Huckleberry Bald, the trees were completely bare. The walk was very relaxing as we made our gradual ascent to the lower bald. After rounding the last curve in the trail, you are greeted with a grassy bald with blue skies behind, giving the sensation that once you reach the top, you will fall over the edge. While on our way, we enjoyed a delightful treat, one of watching and listening to a pair of Ravens as they caught a thermal and soared around and around. While doing so they were chatting, as if they were carrying on a conversation while making the interesting calls that Ravens make. This went on until one of them sounded as if it was laughing at what the other had said, and made us laugh, even though we were in the dark on what was so humorous! Once we reached the very top, we were rewarded with a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains! So we sat for a while and just basked in the amazing surrounding beauty! After some time, we made our way back to the trailhead, drove back along the Skyway, and enjoyed a nice supper at a Mexican restaurant before heading for home.

photo along the cherohola skyway
A beautiful spot along the Cherohola Skyway
photo of Huckleberry Bald
The three specs, are us walking up to the bald
photo of Huckleberry Bald
Me taking in all of the surrounding beauty!

Friday we drove to the nearby Tremont area in the Smokies, where we walked along the Middleprong Trail for a couple of hours. It was yet again another beautiful fall day, as we walked along the trail with the river alongside. The fall leaves, were once again a site of beauty, especially with several being backlit by the sun. It was another delightful afternoon as we enjoyed spending time in the woods, stopping to take photos of the numerous cascades throughout that section of the river, several of which will become future miniature paintings. That evening we were in for a real treat. We went to our local Heritage Center to hear Dr. Bill Bass, founder of the Body Farm in Knoxville, speak. He was so interesting and quite entertaining, just as the times Wes and I have heard him speak before, while talking about the history of the Body Farm, with an accompanying slide show. While not for the faint of heart, it was very interesting to see and learn about the history of the farm and what takes place there. Sunday morning arrived and is was time to say good bye to Wes’ parents as they made their way home back to IN.

photo on middleprong trail
That’s us on the bridge at the beginning of the Middleprong Trail
photo on middleprong trail
Jeanie and I check out and photograph the little guy, which is actually Wes, down by the river.
Dr. Bones
Dr. Bill Bass, or Dr. Bones, giving his interesting talk about the Body Farm.

Fresh off the easel:  Wes finished an Ailanthus Moth right before his parents arrived for their visit.  Since then, we have been trying to catch back up on office work and getting ready for our upcoming show at the Waterfowl Festival.  Wes has also been packing up the new EXQUISITE MINIATURES tour that will be debuting at the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center next month.

miniature painting of a butterfly
“Ailanthus Moth” by Wes
3½ x 2½ inches

Come See Our Paintings This Week:


52nd Society of Animal Artists “Art & the Animal” Exhibition

Until December 31, 2012: Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum, Oradell, NJ

10th Biennial Kentucky National Art & Wildlife Exhibit

Until November 29, 2012: The Henderson Fine Arts Center, Henderson, KY

22nd MonDak Heritage Center’s Miniature Art Show

October 31 – December 29, 2012: The MonDak Heritage Center, Sidney, MT

American Women Artists 15th Annual National Juried Competition and Member Show

November 2 – 25, 2012: K. Newby Gallery and Sculpture Garden, Tubac AZ

American Women Artists Master and Signature Member Show

November 3, 2012 – January 6, 2013: Ironwood Gallery at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ


To view all our many exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html

 Have a loved one or a beloved pet you would like captured in miniature? Contact and commission us!

Don’t forget to “Sign Up” to receive an email each time I update the blog!

Until next time ~ Rachelle


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