Summertime fun here in the Smokies!
by Rachelle Siegrist
Cool temperatures and clear blue skies . . . who could resist? We sure couldn’t, so we loaded up the kayaks and headed over to the lake early this past Wednesday morning, to take advantage of the delightful weather, courtesy of a cool front which had just passed through. Arriving at the boat ramp, we unloaded the kayaks and within minutes were paddling our way across the glassy surfaced lake. Ospreys flew overhead, while we watched White-eyed Vireos and baby Green Herons along the edge of two different small islands. Taking a wrong turn and ending up in a dead-end stream, I turned around and was happy to see a female Wood Duck swim slowly across the water in front of me. The day was starting out great!
A young Green Heron ~ White-eyed Vireo
I finally found the right stream and catching a glimpse of Wes’ blue kayak up ahead, started paddling my way up along the curved watery path. Peering down into the clear water below, I watched several bass swim underneath, weaving in and out from around large, sunken tree trunks below the water’s surface.
We came to the pebble stone beach where we we love to picnic which is yet another favorite “restaurant” of mine! Pulling the kayaks onto the small beach, we sat on the rocks enjoying our peanut butter sandwich.
Relaxingly, we sat there enjoying our little slice of paradise, whilst watching numerous minnows and small fish swim nearby. Reluctantly, we decided to head back so we climbed into our kayaks and started paddling our way back along the beautiful tree-lined stream. Along the way, we met an older gentleman in a kayak, who asked if we had seen the fox and several deer on the island nearby. Sadly, we said we had not, and upon talking with him, learned he was living on a homemade houseboat on the lake and had been doing so for about three months. As you can imagine he was full of delightfully interesting stories!
As I listened to this enchanting stranger, relaxingly laid back in his kayak, feet propped up on the front and as wonderfully tan as a brownie, I started imagining Wes and I too living on the lake for a while on our own small houseboat, and the amazing adventures we would enjoy! The friendly gentleman had grown up in the area, hiking the surrounding mountainsides and having been away in the Navy for many years, had returned to his homeland and decided to do . . . rather than just talk about . . . his dream of living on the lake, while planning someday soon to take a route all the way down to Mississippi!
“Good for him!” I thought to myself, as we said goodbye to our new found friend, with hopes of meeting up with him again someday on the lake and hearing about his latest adventures. We started paddling our way back across the lake and in between each stroke, I enjoyed lying back on my kayak, feeling the warmth of the sun caressing my skin, while watching small clouds form and pass overhead, thinking I could easily spend an entire day doing this! Before long I too had reached the boat ramp and it was time to load up the kayaks and head home, relishing the amazingly wonderful and relaxing day we had enjoyed!
Another afternoon this past week I joined friends Tom and Sharon, as we headed for the Little River, where Tom dropped Sharon and I off at the Wye. Making our way down to the river, Sharon went to get on her tube and realized that it was leaking air pretty good through small hole. Nonetheless, we decided to try and tube down as far as we could, but Sharon only made it a short distance when her tube started really leaking air. So she carefully crossed in the waist high water, and slowly crawled up the big boulders reaching a couple stories high along the bank. with my tube completely inflated and not easy to stop, I decided to go down the cascade and climb out further down to rejoin her.
As Tom was dropping us off for our second attempt and was pumping up the spare tube, I suddenly saw a small tear after hearing air leaking. So we loaded up and headed back to our house, where I grabbed a couple of our extra tubes thinking the third time’s a charm, hoping this trip down would be a good one! It was a delightfully fun ride down and Sharon exclaimed she would like to tube farther down. So we quickly decided to continue tubing down the river, through an area which I had not been in about a dozen years or more. All was fun and games until we started down a fast moving cascade and I saw my tube was careening right for a section filled with large jagged rocks!
As I swiftly started going down, I heard a tearing noise and thought “Oh no . . . it just ripped the small patch off my tube!” No sooner had that happened when my tube started leaking air at an alarming rate, and was sinking as I went down the rapids! Although there was a small calmer section at the base of the rapids, I couldn’t paddle my sinking tube over to the edge, so I had no choice but to go down the next set of rapids, consisting of more large jagged rocks! Reaching the bottom and finally crawling safely out onto the shore, I couldn’t believe it when I saw that I didn’t have a single scratch or bruise on me anywhere, thinking it a miracle indeed!
Sadly I pulled my completely deflated “purple boat” (what my little 3-year old friend Chance calls it) from the water, and saw that there was a large gash in it. Leaving the river behind, Sharon and I walked some distance to meet Tom who picked us up, and we headed home quite thankful no injuries had been sustained during our afternoon adventures! Happily with a couple of pieces of Tom’s large electrical tape, Wes was able to patch my purple tube and I’m hoping it will be just fine, promising my beloved tube to never again take it down the “Cascade of 1,000 knives!”
~ Fresh off the Easels ~
Wes finished his miniature landscape painting this past week, featuring a gorgeous scene from Blackwater Wildlife Refuge near Easton, MD. We were able to visit the refuge while participating in the Waterfowl Festival last year. We’re planning to paint a couple more beautiful miniature landscapes of the refuge, which will be available at the upcoming Waterfowl Festival this November, to add to your own collections.
Meanwhile I’m continuing to paint on a couple of pet commissions, including the one below of two adorable friends Riley and Boris! I’m having great fun with this one and will share the finished painting with you soon!
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Until next time . . .