After a few non-eventful weeks, this past one proved to be very busy in a myriad of ways! It began with us driving 3 ½ hours to Clarksville, TN to attend the opening of the Society of Animal Artist’s “The Animals of North America” show at the beautiful Customs House Museum and Cultural Center last Friday a week ago. We decided to tie in our visit to the museum with camping at a state park for a couple of nights afterwards, so we loaded the kayaks onto the racks and started on our journey. What had worked fine with speeds 55 mph and under, didn’t fare as good with the higher speeds on the interstate! After stopping a couple of times to make adjustments to the ropes and kayak positioning, the third time we stopped and untied the kayaks and squeezed them into the van on top of our bed, after I looked in the side mirror and saw the front of my kayak slightly up in the air . . . Yikes! That paired with the unbelievable traffic on the interstate, made us very thankful when we safely reached the restaurant where we met our dear friend Mike and his brother-n-law Bill for supper!
It was a wonderful time of conversation, laughter and delicious food, and afterwards the four of us drove to the Customs House Museum nearby and were blown away by the fabulous job they had done with displaying the show! It looked absolutely wonderful and we so enjoyed viewing the artwork created by fellow SAA members, while talking with the enthusiastic public that had braved the bad weather to attend the opening that evening. After saying our goodbyes, we headed to the state park and arrived after dark and in the rain.
Thankfully all we had to do was pull our 2 kayaks out, before crashing in bed that night. The next morning we awoke to light rain and windy conditions, so we cooked our oatmeal inside the van, which isn’t set up to cook in. Nonetheless we managed and decided to take umbrellas and go for a long walk, in hopes that the rain would end. Well, the rain didn’t end, but we enjoyed a nice walk before returning to cook some soup for lunch. After heating it up, we sat in the front seats to enjoy it in a dry comfortable spot. The rain turned to a light mist early that afternoon, so we drove to the nearby boat ramp, put on ponchos and climbed into our kayaks in hopes of paddling around a bit. However as soon as we got around a small bend, the winds were blowing like crazy, creating white caps and making us feel as if we were gonna be blown over into the icy cold water at any minute! It was a bit dangerous and not much fun, and looking at the gray skies and heavier rain now falling, we decided to just cut our trip short by a day and return home.
Back at home, we enjoyed some gorgeous weather this past week, so we went kayaking nearby and were quite thankful for the relaxing outing. Whilst exploring a small stream, I came upon this bridge which was inhabited by dozens of swallows who were nesting beneath it. Their stunning jar shaped nests clinging to the edges, appeared like a village of bird condos meticulously lined up! They were flying in and out and all around me, and didn’t mind me being in their midst at all! It was like I was one of them for awhile, as I sat there in amazement watching their acrobatic maneuvers and listening to their excited chatting! Even more amazing was the fact that there was a gorgeous loon taking a bath nearby, that I was watching as well! It was certainly one of those magical moments in which I could’ve stayed all day!
Leaving there we paddled up a ways and came to an area where the stream grew more shallow until we couldn’t paddle up any farther. It was so beautiful though with long sections of rock that stretched across the entire stream in places. The water was very clear too, which made it even more picturesque. A few minutes later while I was sitting out in the middle enjoying the peaceful spot, about a dozen Canada geese flew mere feet above my head, and I was ecstatic to say the least!
Poor Wes tried to get the phone out to capture it on video, and although he didn’t get a video, he got this nice photo of them flying over us! I guess they must love pink, as they didn’t unload on me, but splattered Wes’ blue kayak in a couple of places . . . Ha Ha!
While the birds definitely stole the show that day, we thought this tree, with it’s thousands of roots, bare and clinging to several rocks in various spots, was pretty amazing to see too!
Needing to run some errands, we decided to go kayaking early another morning. It was overcast and lightly rained on us a couple of times, but the water was as slick as glass, which makes for a paddler’s dream, and created a very peaceful setting indeed. After paddling around for while, we found a nice spot for lunch, so we climbed out onto the sandy beach and walked to a small dock nearby, where we sat on the end. With feet dangling in the water, we happily ate and of course fed bread crumbs to the enthusiastic eaters swimming below, being mostly bluegill and sunfish.
After lunch we spent a little more time exploring, and I was thrilled to find a narrow stream nestled amongst a thicket of rhododendron and mountain laurel! It felt like I was paddling through the amazon jungle somewhere with tree limbs arching above, and I paddled up as far as I could. While sitting there totally relaxed and enjoying the surrounding beauty, I started smelling a strong musky scent filling the air. All of a sudden this big reddish-brown furry thing tore out from the thicket just a few feet away and came charging in my general direction, where it dove into the water! I almost came unglued, having been so relaxed and not expecting that at all, and when I noticed the bubble trail coming towards me, I though it best I quickly maneuver out of that tight spot and give whatever it was some space! Upon doing a little research online, I’ve realized what I saw was a large muskrat. It was sure an exciting encounter and the first time I’ve ever seen one in the wild!
Wile we’re talking about exciting encounters, Wes was peering out the window one morning, whilst on the phone with an SAA artist, and lo and behold he spotted a big bobcat in our backyard, not too far behind our garden fence! He called out to me to come and see it, so I grabbed the camera on the way and managed to get this fairly decent shot out of our studio window! He thanked the artist for her call, since it was the reason he made this awesome discovery! Even though we have seen their footprints in the snow several times this past winter, this was the first time we actually got to see one. Who knows what we’ll see next . . . maybe Bigfoot 🙂
IN THE STUDIO
I’m making more progress on my commission painting of a loon, which I’ll probably be finishing up this next week. I’ll be making another painting video of the progress and will share it with you once it’s uploaded to our YouTube channel
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EXQUISITE MINIATURES now on display at The Art & Heritage Center,
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Until Next Time ~ Rachelle