We left early this past Tuesday morning headed for a several day vacation spent with friends in North Carolina. It was a gorgeous, clear morning as we drove through the Smoky Mountain National Park, treating us to numerous stunning views of the mountains when we reached the upper elevations! We had to stop a few times just to admire the gorgeous scenery and take some photos. We arrived in Cashiers, NC, in time to meet friends Tommy and Peggy there for lunch. With tummies full, we continued along our journey until we arrived at our dear friend Don’s house in Brevard NC. After a round of hello hugs, we said hello to his beautiful Abyssinian Koko! In no time Koko was enjoying playing with his new playmates! Within minutes a couple of Don’s resident White Squirrels were at the back door waiting for peanuts to be handed out. Needless to say, between feeding the Whiteys, as we affectionately call them, and playing with Koko, I stayed very busy!
That evening we enjoyed a delicious meal at a local favorite, Twin Dragons Chinese restaurant. After returning home, we enjoyed a piece of Don’s birthday cake, which was my homemade Spiced Applesauce cake, and watched as he opened his presents. Koko got in on the action as well, playing with the wadded up pieces of wrapping paper! The next day, we went into downtown Brevard to enjoy walking around and browsing through a few of the unique stores there, with our favorites being the ACE hardware store and the White Squirrel Shop. We carried on with a yearly tradition of eating pizza for lunch at Big Mike’s Pizza, and as usual it was totally yummy! By mid-afternoon, we were back at Don’s, and after playing with Koko for a while and feeding several Whiteys, I donned hiking shoes and headed for the beautiful trail located near Don’s house. The trail begins by leading through a dense, thick tunnel of Rhododendrons, which were so lush with all of the rain they’ve received so far this year!
Within a few steps, the trail joins up with a lovely stream and follows alongside it during the remainder of the walk. Piles of thick green moss line the trail and cover rocks, making it feel as if your walking through the rainforest, when paired with the thick surrounding vegetation. While your eyes are treated to a visual delight, the sounds of the gently falling stream serve as nature’s symphony in the background! I spotted several beautiful salamanders at different locations, as well as some stunning bright orange mushrooms. In a few areas, I carefully made my way down to the stream to get a closer look at a few different waterfalls and cascades. Alas I was not to be disappointed, as they were as beautiful as always and running at a pretty good clip too! Having enjoyed the peaceful solitude of nature and having walked the entire distance, I turned around and made my way along the soft meandering trail back to where I had started sometime earlier. Soon after arriving back at Don’s place it was time to head into town where we were to have dinner that evening.
For dinner, Don had picked out a great restaurant called The Square Root located in downtown Brevard. It had a great and interesting interior, which featured the original old brick walls and wood flooring, which was comprised of thick cuts of 6×6’s tightly placed side by side, thus creating a stunning effect with the natural rings in the wood! Our dinner of succulent coconut rice, accompanied by pineapple chutney and topped with a thick steak of perfectly grilled salmon and mango butter, was absolutely scrumptious and the service wonderful!! We had a truly delightful time as we talked, laughed and our taste buds were tantalized! We then walked across the alley to a quaint place called Downtown Chocolates. Since I adore chocolate, this was an amazing treat!!! Two long counters were filled with beautifully displayed decadent handmade chocolates in a variety of flavors! When it came time for me to choose my few pieces, I could hardly decide, but somehow managed to do so and decided upon eating them that I had indeed chosen wisely! The favorite of Wes and myself was one called “Mexican Hot”. It was simply scrumptious, and as the dark velvety chocolate melted away in your mouth, it began to get spicy and the more it melted the spicier it got, which we both thought was great! Not only were the chocolates amazing, but the owner and chocolatier, George Willamson, is not only a truly talented chocolate maker, but also quite entertaining and funny as well! If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit to Downtown Chocolates and The Square Root!
The next morning after a lovely breakfast in the “Glass Tree House” as I call Don’s sun room, it was time to say our goodbyes and head over the mountains to our next destination, Cashiers, NC. We arrived at Tommy and Peggy’s beautiful place on Lake Glenville, that afternoon. We unloaded our things, and within minutes I was making my way down the sixty-seven stairs, which led to the lake below to see if my ducks were there yet. When I reached the lake, I could see that the ducks were in another finger of the lake, some distance away. Not to worry, as I quickly changed into my swimsuit and with bread in hand, I climbed into the Kayak and began paddling my way over to where the ducks were. As soon as I reached them I began tossing out small pieces of bread and within seconds I was surrounded by my floating, feathered friends. All of a sudden, one of them jumped into the front seat of the kayak and sat there for several seconds before jumping back out! What an awesome experience that was, and I could hardly believe it had happened!!! Paddling my way back toward the house, I tossed out pieces of bread along the way to make sure they followed me. You’ve heard the expression “Bringing home the cows” . . . well I was “Bringing home the ducks!” I believe they were quite happy that I returned once again and would be offering them a smorgasbord of treats over the next couple of days! They say money can’t buy you love, but I decided bread sure can . . . at least with ducks anyway! Back on the water and surrounded by ducks, I was once again in my element!
The next morning we were blessed with a gorgeous day and so enjoyed it with a delightful pontoon boat ride on beautiful Lake Glenville. This is always a real treat for us and has become a tradition for us all over the years! After returning home and enjoying a yummy lunch, I suited up once again to enjoy some paddle time! I absolutely love kayaking, so for over two hours I floated and paddled along, enjoying the tranquility of nature! With only the sounds of the water slowly pouring from the paddle each time it was lifted out of the water, I enjoyed watching a pair of Belted Kingfishers close up, as well as other birds exploring the edge of the lake. My kayak also served as a transport taxi for several dragon flies throughout my journey, and I rescued one from drowning, carefully lifting it with the paddle and then placing the poor sopping wet insect on the back of the seat in front of me. There it sat while drying out in the sun for quite sometime, before finally flying off, happy to be alive! Occasionally a speedboat would pass by, at which point I would just drift and enjoy the up and down motion of the waves! After a couple of hours of being totally relaxed and mesmerized while gliding across the gorgeous lake, it was getting later and time to go back. After enjoying a delicious pasta supper, compliments of Tommy and Peggy’s cooking, I returned to the lake once again to feed my precious ducks, before spending the remainder of the evening playing Mexican Train Dominoes. The next morning after a leisurely breakfast, it was time to pack up, say our goodbyes and make our way back over the mountains to Townsend.
We are humbled and delighted to have been asked to participate in the upcoming exhibition AMERICAN WILDLIFE ART that will debut at the Allentown Art Museum in Allentown, PA on September 29th. Based upon the popular book by the same title authored by David J. Wagner, Ph. D., the exhibition will feature work from past American natural history and wildlife art masters including John James Audubon, Carl Rungius, Edward Kemeys and Louis Agassiz Fuertes to name a few. Alongside these trailblazers will be a small cadre of select artists who are all members of the prestigious Society of Animal Artists. For us to be part of this historical exhibit is indeed a HUGE feather in our career caps!
Fresh off the easel ~ I’m currently still working on a peacock, painting what seems like hundreds of little feathers. Wes finished his painting of a Bumblebee that he started last week. I can finally show my surprise painting of KoKo that I did for Don’s birthday.
~ To view all our upcoming exhibits ~
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Until next time ~ Rachelle