A Fun Visit With Wes’ Parents !
by Rachelle Siegrist
Wes’ parents arrived here in the Smokies a week ago today, in time to join friends for a picnic in Cades Cove. The next day friend Kit joined us as we headed over to Ft. Loudoun State Park. It was a magnificent drive along the Foothills Pkwy, with fall foliage peaking at the upper elevations, surrounding us with brilliant reds, oranges and yellows! The beautifully reconstructed fort sits atop a hill, now 17 feet higher, to raise it above the new summer pool level of Tellico Lake which didn’t exist when the for was originally built.
Feeling threatened by French activities in the Mississippi Valley during the French and Indian War, the British Colony of South Carolina countered this threat by sending the Independent Company of South Carolina to construct what became Fort Loudoun. During the fort’s four-year existence, relations between the Cherokee Nation and South Carolina broke down, and the Cherokee captured Fort Loudoun in August, 1760.
It was like stepping back in time as well meandered through the fort and its many dwellings! Of course the fact that it’s surrounded by water adds to the beauty of this State Park’s setting! The visitor center, with artifacts on display excavated prior to the Fort’s reconstruction, and an informative a 15-minute film on the area’s history proved to be quite enjoyable as well!
Tuesday, friends Tom and Sharon joined us enjoying a beautiful drive through the Smokies, heading over to the Greenbrier area near Cosby. There we had a lovely picnic in an enchanting little spot inside the forest, where falling leaves swirling through the air added a touch of fall to our outing!
Leaving there, we drove a short distance to Carver’s Orchard, and were met by a very full parking lot, half full of gorgeous classic European sports cars and convertibles. We thought how nice it was to also see a free car show while getting apples! I was delighted that they still had some of my favorite . . . Honey Crisp apples, and of course while there, we all had to enjoy a fresh fried apple pie too!
Sharon having grown up in the Gatlinburg area, took us on a most interesting tour through the back roads leading to Pigeon Forge, telling stories about the significance of different places along the way. We ended up at the Island Show Fountain located at the Island in Pigeon Forge, where we watched an entertaining show of dancing water choreographed to music!
Blessed with more gorgeous weather that next day, we spent it driving through the park, with exclamations of “Wow . . . that’s gorgeous!” being heard numerous times along the winding drive, as we watched the seemingly never ending show of mountains decked out in splendid fall color!
Every bend in the road unfolded yet another majestic view of the Smokies looking their fall best, with Wes and I gleaning such inspiration for future paintings!
After a chilly picnic at the Chimney Tops picnic area, we stopped at Mingus Mill. Built in 1886, it uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the machinery in the building. Nestled amongst a forest of golds, reds and oranges, it was particularly beautiful!
Leaving there we headed to Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum just outside Cherokee, NC. Having visited this delightful museum since I was a little girl, it’s always a treat to return and walk through the historic buildings, most of which have been relocated to the area.
Next on the agenda was a visit to Mingo Falls, a short drive from the visitor center. George joined me in climbing the 150 plus steps to see the falls, and although it was the smallest amount of water I’ve ever seen coming down, it was still strikingly beautiful nonetheless!
As we drove to nearby Cherokee, I couldn’t believe our perfect timing when I looked down at the stream we were crossing and saw four Elk! “Stop the car!” I said, as I quickly jumped out, running back to capture a few photos of the magnificent scene from a bridge! The content little herd lazily drank water while absorbing the warmth of the sun, while I saw future paintings flash before my eyes!
The next day we decided to enjoy in Cades Cove seeing more fall color. We walked to John Oliver’s Cabin and other cabins, as well as a short distance up along the Abrams Falls trail, where I couldn’t resist wading in the frigid water a couple of times! It was one of those amazing days weather wise, with perfect temps accompanied by clear blue skies and a gentle breeze, the kind I could personally enjoy every day of the year! The week was filled with lots of gorgeous scenery, fun times with family and friends, and the making of numerous wonderful memories!
Wes and I were thrilled to discover that I won the John Richard Warren Award for $500 on my miniature painting “A Magical Encounter” and Wes won the Vaughn Insurance Award for $300 on his miniature painting “No Laughing Matter” at the 2016 Kentucky National Wildlife Art Exhibit! Our paintings can be seen and purchased at the exhibition located at the Henderson Fine Arts Center in Henderson, KY, which runs until November 30th.
Until next time . . .