A 50th Celebration With Fun In The Sun!

50th wedding anniversary cake
Jeanie and George’s 50th Anniversary cake that Wes and I made

Wes and I left early this past Saturday morning, as we headed for gorgeous Dale Hollow Lake State Park, where we were meeting his family for the weekend, to celebrate his parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary. After a nice drive, partly through some very pretty countryside, we arrived just in time for lunch, where we all enjoyed a yummy meal in the restaurant located there at the lodge.  The Mary Ray Oaken Lodge is situated on the edge of a mountain and offers a stunning view of the lake below, especially from the large glass window lined walls in the restaurant! After lunch, we unloaded a few things into our rooms, changed into swimsuits and drove to a nearby marina, where we loaded Wes’ brother Greg’s beautiful boat. With gorgeous azure blue skies above, we enjoyed a delightfully pleasant ride as we made our way to our first stop for the afternoon. It was one of Greg’s favorite places to snorkel, and fortunately, no one else was there, so we had it all to ourselves! Greg and his nephew Jackson were the first to dive into the refreshing emerald green water, with George right behind them. It took wimpy me a couple of minutes to actually get all the way into the water. Even though it was much warmer than expected, I knew it was gonna be a touch of pain when the water hit my tummy! However, I was totally surprised at how warm it actually felt once I was in, and the “tummy contact” wasn’t quite as painful as I thought it would be.

Dale Hollow State Park
Jeanie, Jackson and I are ready to head out for the day!
Dale Hollow Lake
So far . . . so good!
Dale Hollow Lake
HA HA . . . look at the look of the anticipation of pain on my face!

Instantly I was in my element . . . water!!! I love the water, whether swimming, floating, snorkeling, or tubing, it really doesn’t matter, as I just love being in the water! Perhaps I might be part fish, who knows, but I’m definitely a water baby and always have been! Within a couple of minutes Wes and George were helping Jeanie to get into the water as well, so there we all were floating around and enjoying this amazingly refreshing treat, and I was as happy as could be! Putting on my mask I swam to the rock ledge, where beautiful Sunfish were swimming about. In no time a medium sized Bass also swam into view. Then Greg told us about a large Channel Catfish a short swim away, so off I went. Before long, I had reached the area where they had spotted him, and he immediately swam into view, a nice big guy! With a bit of encouragement, pushing and gentle pulling along, we got Jeanie floated over there and I lent here my mask, so she too could see this great fish. What fun we were all having, just enjoying this incredibly beautiful setting, floating about and relaxing, while all the while being surrounded by the soft caress of the water! Shortly thereafter, while snorkeling to another nearby rock ledge, I was once again transported into another world, the one where all you hear is the sound of your slow, methodical breathing underwater and the sight of the fish slowly and gracefully swimming around you, completely mesmerizes you . . . what an amazingly peaceful world it is! There too I saw several more Sunfish, another Bass and a large Channel Catfish. Sometime later, we all boarded the boat and made our way to our next destination.

Dale Hollow State Park
Jeanie joins in on the great fun!
Dale Hollow Lake
George’s ingenious way of wearing a life vest to make him float nice and comfortably!

Our next destination was a very small island, which is sometimes a bit larger depending on the amount of water they allow in the lake.  The rock island pretty much had a single occupant, a beautifully shaped tree that greatly resembled a Bonsai Tree. The water temperature was a bit cooler there, as the water was much deeper, so it took me a couple of minutes longer to finally make the plunge! Greg and Jackson led the way, and I followed behind as we swam over to the island to see what fish we could spot there. Wes joined us shortly thereafter as well, while George and Jeanie remained on the boat this time around. The amazingly crystal clear emerald-colored water was beautiful, and Wes and I saw several more Sunfish, with one being a really big one! I floated over it, suspended by the water, while watching this scaled beauty for several minutes, as he chased off any fish that got into his personal space or even came close to it! Standing on the rock ledge that juts a short distance out from the center of the island, I felt almost as if I was walking or standing on water!

Dale Hollow Lake
Feeling like I’m standing on water!
Dale Hollow Lake
Snorkeling by the point

We enjoyed this great location for quite sometime and then I convinced Wes to ride the tube with me. I have always ridden tubes while lying on them, so sitting on it with Wes was a new experience for both of us! At first it was great and totally all fun and games, until the tube flipped while we were going at a good rate of speed!  And unfortunately for poor Wes, he went down first and got smacked in his left side very hard by an oncoming wave! Uh-oh I thought as my head popped up out of the water, and I looked over at Wes and could tell he was in pain. Like a real trooper he insisted he wanted to ride lying down by me for some time, before I finally convinced him to get onto the boat. With him safely aboard, I rode the tube for quite sometime, as we headed to a marina. Although I felt so terrible for poor Wes, I had a ball flying across the water while lying on the tube and holding on for dear life,  bouncing up into the air like a rag doll at times! What a thrill it was and always is for me to do this, and I almost laugh my head off the entire time I’m skimming across the waters surface at a high rate of speed!

Dale Hollow Lake
Wes and I before we started our adventure . . . and took “the plunge”!
boating on Dale Hollow Lake
Yea . . . that’s me . . .  Some kids never grow up!

Quite sometime passed while they all graciously let me enjoy this awesome adventure. And although I was having a blast, I had to admit that even though the spirit was very willing, the flesh was getting tired, so I jumped off of the tube and swam to the boat.  With tube secured in place, we rode along and soon had arrived at a nearby marina for a pit stop. Then we just sat back and enjoyed a nice relaxing ride back to the lodge with “Captain Jack”, as I deemed Jackson, at the helm. After refreshing up a bit, we all headed down to the restaurant where we enjoyed a nice dinner. Then it was time to celebrate Jeanie and George’s special day with a cake which I had made for them. We found a table on a nice patio area and Wes and I brought it out to them, adorned with a special cake topper, which Wes had made for them. They both loved it, and we all loved eating it! Later that evening while Greg and Jackson went fishing, Wes and I enjoyed just sitting and talking with his mom and dad.

The Mary Ray Oaken Lodge
George and Jeanie act out their special cake topper!
The Mary Ray Oaken Lodge
Serving up the yummy cake!

The next morning, Wes’ other brother Tony and his wife Karen arrived, and we all enjoyed visiting for a while in the lovely, shaded patio area, while eating the rest of the cake, and enjoying this casual and impromptu anniversary party. Later on we enjoyed lunch together. Although Wes and I had originally planned to spend the entire day with everyone, Wes couldn’t get onto the boat, and certainly couldn’t stand the beating of the waves while riding along, so we had to say our goodbyes and leave early, while the rest of them went on the boat. However, we made some great memories, although poor Wes made a bad one, and I think his mom and dad enjoyed their special weekend full of adventure!

The Mary Ray Oaken Lodge
Karen, Jackson and I joined in on the family portrait
The Mary Ray Oaken Lodge
50 years later!  L to R ~ Tony, Wes, Jeanie, George and Greg
Dale Hollow Lake
Jeanie and George enjoying an Anniversary lunch
Dale Hollow Lake
Jackson and George suited up and ready for the boat!

Fresh off the easel ~ Wes painted this miniature portrait of his parents for their 50th Anniversary gift. It was painted from a photo, which we took of them on one of our hikes during their visit this past May.

minitaure portrait painting
“The Happy Hikers” by Wes

Currently On Our Easels: I am working on a miniature painting featuring two Flamingos. Wes is painting a portrait of a beautiful Tom Turkey.

~ To view all our upcoming 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!

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Until next time ~ Rachelle


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