little river trailhead

We enjoyed another great hike this past week along with several friends, here in the Great Smoky Mountains. I’ve decided to call our outdoor loving group the Happy Hikers! And happy we were, to be out once again enjoying the delightful breeze and cool crisp air, which we had been blessed with that day! It felt like fall and looked like it as well, as the ground already had a lovely assortment of orange, yellow and red colored leaves scattered about. We were hiking the scenic Little River Trail, here in the Smokies, which is quite a lovely trail since it follows right alongside the river for much of the way, offering one beautiful setting after another of the rushing river scattered with small to huge rocks and boulders throughout. One section with several huge rocks kind of lined up together, beckoned to be climbed on, so Kit joined me in climbing up and over several of them until we reached the highest point. There I asked him if he had ever played “King of the mountain” as a kid, to which he replied “No”. So imagine my delight as I commenced to grab him and pretend I was pushing him over the edge, then told him who ever pushes all of the other players off and is left standing on top is indeed . . . king of the mountain. However, as kids we never played it on top of great big rocks, but on small dirt hills in Florida, probably a much safer bet!

falls leaves on little river trail
A few beautiful fall leaves
The Little River Trail in Elkmont
Where I taught Kit how to play “King of the mountain”
photo on little river trail
A stunning scene along the way!

A couple miles later, we reached the beautiful, small and intimate waterfall where we enjoyed all lunch. How awesome I thought to sit with my feet mere inches from a waterfall while eating, it doesn’t get any better than this! To top it off, the bright red Cardinal flowers were blooming at the base of the falls, and were being enjoyed by several Swallowtail butterflies. I had been on a mission all morning long to find these stunning red beauties by the stream, so I could photograph them, so I was indeed a happy camper to say the least! After finishing lunch, we walked on up the trail a ways farther before turning around and heading back to the trailhead where we started earlier that morning. On the way back, Wes and I really enjoyed talking with fellow hiker friend Jerry, who worked at the post office for many years, in my hometown of Okeechobee, about friends and family we knew. It was a fun and beautiful hike, and another wonderful memory had been made!

Little River trail Hiking Group
The Happy Hikers ~ L to R ~ Jerry, Wes, me, Kit, Fred and Sammie
cardinal flower on little river trail
A beautiful pair of Swallowtails on a Cardinal flower blossom
hiking the little river trail
It looks like we’re all saying . . . “Now which way do we go?”

Here’s a few more photos of beautiful and interesting sights along the way . . .

tall tree on little river trail
A magnificent and very tall tree
bug shell on little river trail
The shell of a cicada rests on the tree
catapillar on the little river trail
An interestingly cute and fuzzy caterpillar along the way
crawdad on little river trail
A stunningly bright red crawdad rests in a small stream
coral fungi on litte river trail
A lovely clump of Coral Fungi
milipede on little river trail
A millipede makes his way safely across the trail
mushroom on little river trail
A decomposing mushroom, in the yucky stage!
spot along the little river trail
A serene and beautiful spot along the river
tree on little river trail
Jerry called this precariously placed tree a “Widow maker”

The next evening we joined friends Sammie, Fred and Barb for a delightful dinner at The Dancing Bear Restaurant here in Townsend. It’s a charmingly rustic and quite beautiful log building nestled amongst the woods, making you feel as if you have stepped into a special secluded place when you approach the huge front glass doors. It was an overcast fall-like day as we went inside and were seated at a nice round table directly beside two large windows, offering a beautiful view of the surrounding forest and patio with a large stone fireplace. We enjoyed sharing great stories and laughs until we were served a delicious and beautifully presented dinner, which we all greatly enjoyed! Afterwards, our friends joined us at our house for a game of Mexican Train Dominoes and my homemade applesauce cake topped with caramel glaze.

Dancing Bear Lodge and Restaurant in townsend
Dinner at the Dancing Bear Restaurant

The following evening we joined Sammie once again at Fred and Barb’s house to enjoy a dinner of quesadillas. Fred had an amazing assortment of chopped veggies to choose from, which we filled our quesadillas with and made in the special cookers. Fred and I were the night’s official quesadilla chefs, and everyone seemed delighted with the outcome of our efforts. After dinner, we finished playing our game of Mexican Train from the previous night, and then we were given a real treat! Fred had an array of fresh berries and fruits, and small chunks of pound cake which we all enjoyed taking turns dipping into his scrumptious homemade dark chocolate raspberry fondue! At that point the conversation all but died out, and all that was heard for quite sometime was the sounds of “Mmmmmm”! It was truly “Finger lickin’ good”!!!

chocolate fondue
Fred’s fantastic fondue!

This past Friday evening, Kit joined us at our house for a supper of homemade potato soup and applesauce cake on the screen porch, before the three of us went to our local Heritage Center later that evening. We enjoyed a concert of storytelling and music, featuring the Pear Family, in which the mom plays a hammered dulcimer. Since I too play one, it is always a real treat to me to be able to enjoy hearing this beautiful mountain instrument played! The storytellers did a great job too, as a mesmerized audience listened, while bursting into bouts of laughter periodically. It was another great evening! Wes and I have somehow managed to fit numerous painting hours in as well amidst our fun social activities this past week.

American Wildlife Art Exhibition1b

We are humbled and delighted to have been asked to participate in the historic AMERICAN WILDLIFE ART Exhibition that will debut at the Allentown Art Museum in Allentown, PA this week! Based upon the popular book by the same title authored by David J. Wagner, Ph. D., the exhibition features work from past American natural history and wildlife art masters including John James Audubon, Mark Catesby, Ding Darling, Carl Rungius, Edward Kemeys and Louis Agassiz Fuertes to name a few. Alongside these trailblazers will be a small selection of representative works by members of the prestigious Society of Animal Artists including our four small paintings featured above!

Check out these links for more information~

The Allentown Art Museum
The Society of Animal Artists’ Blog
American Wildlife Art


Fresh off the easel ~ We’ve managed to finish several paintings this past week that I’m sharing below.  My painting of the Spotted Skunk is in progress, as I’m putting on the finishing touches now and Wes is currently painting a Great White Egret.

fishing lure still life painting
“A Few Favorite Lures” by Wes
miniature painting of alligators
“Swamp Dragons At Rest” by Wes
Spotted Skunk
My Spotted Skunk painting in progress


American Wildlife Art at The Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA

September 29 – December 29, 2013



To view all our upcoming exhibits:



 Immortalize your loved one or a beloved pet in miniature!

 Contact and commission us to create your own special painting!

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Until next time ~ Rachelle


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