Spring Break in Florida!
By Rachelle Siegrist
It’s hard to believe it’s already been two weeks tomorrow, since we left the Smokies, and flew to South Florida to visit my family. The late departing flight, complete with air vent issues, became even more interesting when just before landing in Sanford, vapor clouds starting pouring from the vents lining the ceiling in the plane, causing it to look like the plane was on fire and smoke was pouring out, which as you can imagine certainly woke everyone up! Within minutes of landing, my parents had picked us up and we were off to Okeechobee. My nephew Tyler and niece Haydyn, were brought over the next morning and were thrilled that Uncle Wes was making them special pancakes, miniatures of course! The day was spent playing outside and working to clear weeds in the pond, while I also enjoyed finally warming up and thawing out!
A precious baby Diamondback Terrapin
Tyler the dog whisperer and Hazel
Tuesday, after another wonderful picnic lunch by the pond, we all headed into town to watch Cinderella. Everyone very much enjoyed it regardless of age, and there were numerous laughs to be had throughout the movie! That evening we went to my brother’s home for supper, where we enjoyed Alicia’s yummy spaghetti, and were treated to her sharing chocolates with us, from a large gift basket which she had won earlier! Wednesday and Thursday were spent outside once again, whilst taking boat rides in the pond, enjoying more picnic lunches, and doing a bit of work as well. The kids and I also walked the trail through the woods several times and spent some time building sand castles in a big dirt hole.
My parent’s precious Dixie loves to spend the afternoons lazing about in my dad’s truck!
Another of my 4-legged friends, Roxie who is part of my brother’s family
Late Friday morning we headed over to Ft. Pierce, and after enjoying lunch at Subway, went to the the Manatee Observation and Education Center. It was quite interesting, with several large saltwater aquariums filled with local fish and other sea life. There was also a touch tank, and the kids and I thoroughly enjoyed touching and feeling everything, ending the fun session with petting a beautiful Rat Snake named Diego! Leaving there, the next adventure on the agenda was going to the Harbor Branch Ocean Discovery Center. There we watched a quick film about their programs, then enjoyed looking at the aquariums, and Tilapia farm. However the best part was the big touch tank, with us holding several different things, and feeling the smooth skin of the large conk was a highlight for sure!
Mermaid Haydyn and Merman Tyler
Leaving there, we headed to one of my favorite places of all time . . . the beach!!! As usual it was beautiful, although the water and air temps were a bit too cool to enjoy some boogie boarding. So we just played in the surf, made a Pollock sand splatter painting on a large rock at the Jetty, and I made seaweed anklets and necklaces for the kids and myself. I absolutely love to stand facing the water, while watching the waves come rolling in, crashing a short distance from the beach. There is something so mesmerizing and peaceful about viewing a landscape where there is nothing but water and sky as far as the eye can see . . . until the two meet in the far off distance! I just had to get saltwater in my hair, so I did just that, by wetting it with my hands! I so hated to pull myself away from my saltwater heaven, but alas it was time to go find something to eat for supper, which we did at Red Lobster!
Amazing sand surfers . . . Haydyn, Tyler, Dad and me
Early Saturday morning, my dad and I loaded his bike and met my brother Marshall and Tyler at my favorite bike trail, Grassy Island. The four of us spent the next couple of hours relaxing while riding the sandy trail that twists and turns through seemingly endless hammocks! We saw turkey and White-tailed Deer and a large Gopher Tortoise, as well as several songbirds, all while having a delightful time!
In biking heaven once again! A gorgeous Swamp Iris blooming near the bike trail
One of the most magnificent trees of all . . . a large sprawling Live Oak!
Later that afternoon, we joined my brother and the kids over at my cousin’s property. As soon as we pulled through the gate leading into the cow pasture, here came the cows! One of my favorite things is to stand in the middle of a cow pasture, whilst surrounded by a herd of beautiful cows, and I did just that, as they came to check everything out and see if we came bearing edible treats. Within minutes, one of my precious 4-legged friends made a beeline for me, so he could be petted and loved on. It was Patches, a beautiful white miniature donkey. So I did just that for quite sometime, until he was quite satisfied, and headed off into the distant pasture with the herd of cows.
Here comes the cows!
My sweet little buddy Patches and me
After that it was time to take the 4-wheeler for a spin . . . and another spin, and another! A favorite past time of mine, is riding the 4-wheeler through a large open pasture, as there’s something totally freeing about the experience! At times it had 4 passengers on it as we climbed through ditches and over dirt hills, while constantly dodging cow patties! During one trip, I stopped so Haydyn and I could climb a gorgeous spreading Live Oak tree, which her dad, Marshall, and I use to climb as kids, yet another favorite pastime of mine! All this time, the boys were all fishing and managed to catch 9 small bass, which we quickly took home and released, into my dad’s pond. Fisherman Wes was quite happy with this arrangement, and caught several of them. It was another great day spent in the wonderful outdoors!
Wes and Dad working with the Bass
Mom, me and Haydyn and Tyler going for a ride, while Dixie tags along
After lunch Sunday, we headed for Highlands Hammock State Park located in Sebring. Highlands Hammock holds a special place in my heart, having spent time and camped there since I was a little girl. Wes and I also use to spend a tremendous amount of time there while dating and when we lived in FL. It was gorgeous as always and we saw several gators, ranging from small to large, along with water snakes, several large frogs and numerous bird species! We ended the day with a picnic, and were treated to a stunning Florida sunset as we left the park. We had been blessed with another wonderful day and made more great memories! After saying our goodbyes this past Wednesday, we boarded the plane, heading back to our home in the Smokies.
A gorgeous young alligator enjoying the sun
Marshall Alicia, Mom, Dad, me and Wes with Haydyn and Tyler in front
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~ The latest paintings off of the Siegrists’ Easels ~
I finished my commission painting of a handsome Black Lab named Scout this past week, while Wes finished his painting of two Bighorn Sheep before we left for Florida which we photographed during our trip to Colorado this past August. I’m currently working on another dog commission of a precious little Wire Haired Dachshund named Petey, as well as a painting of a Peacock for another show.
“Scout” by Rachelle
“Two Sheep With A View” by Wes
Until next time . . .