Kayaks, Picnics, Eagle Encounters and More!

A Fun Visit With My Parents!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Picnic time in Cades Cove

We left Florida early last Monday morning, bringing my parents home with me, so we’ve had a fun filled week, needless to say!  Although my Dad was still having a hard time getting around after hurting his knee on the boat in Florida, thankfully he was getting around much better toward the end of the week, so we were able to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather here in the Smokies.

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A Coyote searches for lunch

We spent last Tuesday in nearby Cades Cove, and it was a glorious day, with abundant sunshine and blue skies, accompanied by a cool breeze.  It was perfect weather for a picnic, so we did just that and enjoyed sitting and relaxing by a stream for awhile, listening to trickling water and the chatter of crows.

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Mom and Dad relaxing by the stream after our picnic

During the drive around the cove we saw numerous White-tailed Deer and even watched a coyote hunt the field for a short time.  We spotted a few turkey as well, with one strutting up a storm, appearing most impressive indeed!  Standing by Hyatt Lane, a gravel road running across the cove, we watched a small group of deer eating the tender green grass in the nearby field.  The late afternoon light added a beauty to the gorgeous setting, as we watched the deer, accompanied by peaceful sounds of springtime birdsong and gentle breezes blowing through the trees. We could’ve stood there for hours it seemed, completely mesmerized by the peaceful pastoral scene!  Several more deer were spotted on the remaining drive around the loop road, before heading home that evening.

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A scenic section of the drive through Cades Cove

Each morning Wes tantalized our taste buds with something delicious!  A favorite of everyone was the chocolate chip waffles topped with pecan syrup . . . YUM!! We were blessed with beautiful weather throughout the week allowing for meals on the back porch, which is always a treat! Wednesday afternoon, we enjoyed a drive along the Foothills Parkway and along several curvy back roads twisting their way along steep mountainsides and through the beautiful countryside.  The abundant Redbuds blooming everywhere, added to the beauty of the drive!

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Can you say YUM?

Thursday was Mom’s and my shopping day together, which we greatly enjoyed!  We met my Dad and Wes for lunch at a favorite Mexican restaurant of ours, El Jimadors in nearby Maryville, and it was delicious as always!  Dad and Wes returned home that afternoon, while my Mom and I continued our search for treasures.

I was delighted that my Dad’s knee was much better by Friday and he was able to go kayaking with Wes and I!  Since our picturesque Chilhowee Lake is drawn down, we went to lower Chilhowee, the section of the Tennessee River below the Chilhowee Dam.  The surrounding mountainsides were dotted with the bright greens, yellows and oranges of new baby leaves, appearing almost fall like in appearance.  Splashes of lavender from the Redbuds and whites from Dogwoods added to the sheer beauty!

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Dad and I appear to be practicing a synced paddle routine

It was Dad’s first time in a kayak, and he fell in love with it from the start of being on the water!  The icy cold water was quite clear, allowing us to see the bottom in shallow areas, which are abundant with the present draw down on Chilhowee Lake above.

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The lower water exposed numerous tree stumps in assorted shapes and sizes, which looked like an army of gnarly, twisted wood creatures walking up onto the temporary sandy banks!  As we relaxingly paddled along we all kept watching for fish swimming below, but sadly missed seeing any the entire time.

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Dad and I amongst some of the tree stumps

As usual, I was thrilled to be in my pink kayak again, and even more so, because this time I had my Dad with me! The three of us paddled along, weaving our way through the scattered trees and stumps, while listening to the calls of Ospreys soaring above and delightful sounds of the Spring Peepers joyfully calling . . . it was a glorious afternoon indeed!  That evening dear friends, Fred, Barb and Kit joined us for supper at Pizza Hut, and a game of Mexican Train afterwards, where we all did more laughing than anything!

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Dad having a ball and looking like a pro!

Friday we went to another local favorite, the Black Bear Cafe, for lunch and while driving there, we were treated to an amazing sight!  Wes spotted a Bald Eagle circling above, so I stopped the car as we watched it circle while getting closer to the ground.  Then all of a sudden, once the road was clear, it dropped down, quickly grasping a roadkill in it’s talons, before taking off.  Then, it flew straight toward us, flying beside the vehicle then over the windshield, mere feet away, with the dangling meal, before flying off.  As you can imagine, we were all going nuts inside the SUV, totally amazed at what we had just been blessed to witness!!!

That afternoon my Dad, Wes and I headed back over to the river for a couple more glorious hours of kayaking.  It was just as beautiful and fun as the day before, and once again time seemed to stand still, being on the water again!  We paddled a different section and stayed out a little longer, and my Dad decided he loved kayaking!

rachelle siegrist kayaking smokies
Happy . . . Happy . . .  Happy me!

We made it home in time for me to make my homemade Ziti that evening, which we enjoyed eating on the porch, sitting out there until it was dark.  Thus the end had come to another wonderful day!  Sadly, we waved goodbye as my parents drove away this morning, but are thankful for all of the wonderful memories we made this week!


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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle



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