Three days of heaven!
by Rachelle Siegrist
I LOVE camping!!! So excitement mounted as we finished loading the van with camping gear and kayaks and began our three-day adventure! We arrived at our campsite just in time to make lunch, before getting everything set up and situated. Since it was the middle of the day, a hike in the woods seemed like a great idea, so off we went, enjoying not only the peace and quiet, but the first bright reds and yellows of the fall season!
Clear blue skies allowed dappled sunlight to dance upon us through the treetops above, and a lovely breeze kept us company, as we walked along. Several beautiful flowers and interesting species of fungi and mushrooms were spotted along the way, with one group looking like a previous hiker had spilled a basket of small potatoes all over the ground!
Coral fungus ~ A ribbon like fungus ~ “New Potatoes” fungus
Serenaded by birdsong, the “checking” of warblers, the occasional cry of a hawk soaring above, and the thumping of woodpeckers on hollow tree trunks, we relaxingly meandered along the curving path, each step causing cares to slip away, our world becoming one of simplicity and peace.
Returning from our hike, we visited the little camp store, where a treat awaited us, chocolate Mayfield ice cream in the small paper cup, the kind you eat with the little flat wooden spoon! I’m not quite sure if it’s because it brings back fond childhood memories, or if it’s because we were camping, but it tasted absolutely divine and became our daily treat! Returning to our campsite, I decided to float on my tube for awhile, basking in the warm sun, while Wes played chess, activities we both enjoyed each day there!
I carelessly drifted about, going where the wind took me, while watching clouds form and shape shift, until deciding it was warm enough to swim. In I went, enjoying the refreshingly cool water and the fact that I pretty much had it to myself! Feeling as relaxed as a limp rag, I returned to the campsite to make sandwiches for our evening kayaking trip. Soon we were in the water and happily paddling on our way! It was so quiet that we could actually hear the humming buzz from vast amounts of gnats which loved gathering around us and our kayaks.
After a idyllic kayak picnic nestled amongst a grassy area, we continued our journey as the sun slipped lower into the sky, until it disappeared behind the mountain, silhouetting surrounding trees and hillsides against a light salmon colored sky.
The late evening was spent sitting by the campfire, serenading us with pops and cracks, while mesmerizing us with its luminous show. Before heading to bed, we took a stroll to the water’s edge, where we stood gazing at the gloriously clear nighttime sky, filled with vast amounts of stars and a quarter moon, all perfectly mirrored by the glassy surface of the water below, and for a short while in this beautiful stillness, all was well with the world!
Each day started out with kayaking, and the rising early morning mist was best our last day there, lasting for quite sometime before disappearing. That morning as I paddled through it, I noticed a small mist tornado form and slowly dance across the surface of the water, while swallows swept from the sky, dipping into the sunlit mist, sending illuminated splashes flying up into the air each time, creating a magnificent show!
The last day I managed to quietly paddle up close enough to a flock of at least 12 Blue-winged Teals, to watch them preen for a bit before flying off, and was delighted to catch it on video!
Later that afternoon, after a hike and ice cream, it was time to head home. Reluctantly I got into the van, deciding any time you spend three-days in heaven, it’s sad to come back to earth. But hopefully there will be many more camping trips ahead for us, making new memories with each one!
~ Fresh off the Easels ~
I recently finished this miniature painting of a Mule which we photographed in Cades Cove late one evening. I thought the way the sun was hitting him and showing off his beautiful shiny coat was stunning!
Here’s another one of my recently commissioned miniature portrait paintings, which I had great fun doing, and imagined myself swimming in the warm waters off the beautiful Virgin Islands as well! This painting is even more special to our collectors now, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who have suffered great damage there in St. John, and in several other places from Hurricane Irma.
Our traveling tour Exquisite Miniatures opened at the beautiful Mari Sandoz Heritage Center in Chadron, NE September 21st and will be exhibited there until December 21st.
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Until next time . . .