Wednesday, a week ago, Wes and I left the airport in Knoxville, on a plane headed to Orlando, where my parents picked us up and we drove to Okeechobee. The next morning, we hit the ground running as we went into town, to help decorate for my sister, Hayley’s, wedding. Late that evening, my Aunt Nancy and her family arrived to spend this adventure filled weekend with all of us! Friday, Wes woke me up early, by saying quietly “The turkeys are here!” To this I jumped up out of bed, and with my cup full of cracked corn, I headed out into the yard to feed dad’s wild turkeys, which are more like pets really. What an awesome treat that was for me several mornings! That day, we enjoyed just visiting and catching up with one another on recent happenings, while watching the kids play. Wes and I also got to meet my cousin Jeanie’s two precious little boys, and my cousin Aaron’s wife, Elizabeth. The house was filled with lots of laughter and conversation, as we waited for my parents to return, so we could load a few remaining wedding things and all head into town for the rehearsal dinner that evening.
The next morning, my brother Marshall, cousin Thomas and I got up early and headed to Grassy Island Trail, which is one of my favorite places to ride my bike! It was a beautiful morning, as we unloaded the bikes and started riding out across the semi-flooded cow pasture, which leads to the beginning of the trail. Although I’ve had the privilege of riding this wonderful trail with Marshall several times, this was Thomas’ first trip around and he rode it like a pro! We had an awesome time as we rode and enjoyed riding along the beautiful new south end section, which my brother and some friends made during the past couple of months. This section has an area where you ride back and forth through a creek several times, which was really filled with water with all of the recent rain they have received there. Needless to say, by the time we were through riding the 13 miles or more of trail, our backsides were covered in mud waist down! Well what kind of adventure would it be without bringing a little mud home with us! By the time we had rode the entire trail and part of it twice, peddling back across the water filled pasture wasn’t quite as easy as when we rode in! Nonetheless, water and all, the three of us had an awesome time!
We arrived home in time to help with lunch and then to get cleaned up and ready to drive to the church that afternoon for the wedding that evening. Of course we had to share all about our adventures while riding the trail that morning and about how impressed Marshall and I were with Thomas’ first trail ride! It resembled a noisy school cafeteria as we tried to get everyone fed lunch and the kitchen cleaned up afterwards! Somehow we did it and managed to leave for the church almost on time. It was a madhouse when we all arrived, people running this way and that, changing clothes and curling hair, but everyone managed to get ready on time! The church was beautifully decorated as Tyler the ring bearer, and Haydyn the flower girl, walked down the isle, followed by the wedding attendants, then finally dad walking Hayley down. The ceremony was so pretty and reverent, and we couldn’t help but get tickled at Haydyn and Tyler occasionally doing funny things while trying to entertain themselves during the ceremony! After photos were taken, we joined the attendees at a nearby location for the reception dinner. The reception was decorated beautifully and everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner followed by my favorite part . . . eating the cake! My cousin Beth and Aunt Nancy enjoyed this part as much as I did, and Beth and I were not above asking for extra roses to eat . . . Yummy! Before we knew it, it had come to an end and Hayley and Justin made their way out of the building while we all blew bubbles, which surrounded them. Then it was time for the clean up, and with several friends pitching in to help the family, it went pretty fast. We enjoyed spending time with my Aunt Nancy and family again the next morning until they left for home after lunch. That evening we said our goodbyes to Marshall, Alicia and the kids, and then finished packing for our return trip home the next day.
We left early last Monday morning, along with my parents to drive home to Townsend. They came to spend the week with us to recuperate from the wedding activities and just relax for a week. And rest and relax they did . . . the entire drive home and most of the next day! Unfortunately it has rained almost constantly since we returned home, which greatly limited what we could do in the nearby national park. However, we made the most of it, we planned around rainstorms, and managed to drive the beautiful loop road in Cades Cove the first evening we were home. We saw several deer, turkey and a black bear! The clouds parted at one point and offered a lovely sunset. The next day we all went and saw “The Lone Ranger” at the theater and decided that Johnny Depp as Tonto, made the movie! Friday morning, we went and walked up a nearby trail called Middle Prong, which follows a stream most of the way, featuring several beautiful cascades and a waterfall. They were simply gorgeous and roaring with great force after the recent rain, and created some amazing white water all along. We returned to the trailhead just in time to watch three kayakers go over one of the falls, which was spectacular and very exciting to say the least! After a late lunch at Pizza Hut, dad and I headed back into the park to hike to Spruce Flats Falls. It too was running with amazing force and we both enjoyed just sitting and relaxing for a bit, while watching and listening to it.
Saturday, we enjoyed a nice drive along the Foothills Parkway as we headed over to the Cherohalla Skyway. We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the way over, which ended up with us all sitting in the van when the rain started falling again, soon after we stopped. We were hoping to hike . . . rain free . . . up to two different balds. But alas it was not to be, so we just hiked to Hooper’s Bald in the misty rain, which sometimes turned into a drizzle. Nonetheless, it was beautiful as we walked along the lush green path, many times walking right through the clouds! Although there was no view from atop the bald, it was still beautiful with a few remaining Flame Azaleas blooming, and we felt almost as if we had hiked to the top of the world! We made it back to the van just before the deluge started and it rained like that for much of the trip back home! While driving along one of the back roads, we were stopped when a tree had fallen across the road. Not to worry though, the local guys who stopped their trucks and whipped out chainsaws, cut up the tree, and then pulled it off the road with a truck, live for moments like these! Passersby waved and tooted their horns as a “thank you” while driving by. Even with the torrents of rain, we had a delightful week full of lots and lots of laughter and made many happy memories together! This morning we said our sad goodbyes, and my parents left for FL. Yes, they kindly sent me a couple of photos of the blue sky and sunshine once they crossed the “Sunshine State” line!
Today is Wes’ and my 23rd Anniversary. We spent it like most of you in the Eastern United States did . . . watching it rain . . . again.
Fresh off the easel ~ Wes finished his miniature painting of a Tom Turkey week before last.
Currently On Our Easels ~ I am working on a miniature painting featuring two Flamingos, and working on a couple for sketches for a commission.
To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html
~ 7th Annual Miniature Fine Art Show July 13 – August 10, 2013: Artistic Designs Gallery, Brownsburg, IN – We will be attending the opening reception on July 12th with Wes giving a talk on miniature art that evening. We will be teaching a workshop on miniature painting on Saturday, July 13th (9AM-4PM)
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