Fun In The Woods With Wes’ Parents

Walking in the Woods!!!

by Rachelle Siegrist

cades cove cabins wes siegrist
Wes and his parents by the Lawson Barn in Cades Cove

Wes’ parents arrived at our home here in the Smokies this past Wednesday and we have been on the go ever since!  We enjoyed a picnic in Cades Cove and riding around the loop road, while counting turkey and deer the first evening.  It was a beautiful one too, complete with a gorgeous sunset over the mountains!

turkey in cades cove
A couple of resident turkey in the cove

No matter how many times we visit Cades Cove, it’s always a joy and inspiring as an artist, as we love painting the historic barns and home places located there, as well as the numerous gorgeous vistas, scenes and resident wildlife!

cades cove barn
The Lawson Barn in Cades Cove

The next day we headed over to Roaring Fork near Gatlinburg, but recent high winds in our area combined with the wildfires last year, had caused numerous trees to fall, therefore temporarily closing the loop drive.  So after visiting one accessible log cabin and barn, we decided to hike the Gatlinburg Trail.  Following alongside the river, it’s always a pleasant relaxing walk, and was gorgeous, dressed in lush green foliage.

hiking the gatlinburg trail
Wes’ parents and me on one of the bridges

Numerous Mountain Laurel were blooming showcasing their delicate light pink flowers dotted throughout the woods, adding even more beauty!

gatlinburg trail
Jeanie and George by one of the Mountain Laurel

Of course if there’s water around and it’s not frozen I usually get in . . . most of the time!  I just couldn’t resist the stunningly clear water, and after my legs went numb, it didn’t feel too bad . . . Ha Ha!  Sadly I couldn’t convince any of the others to play in the water with me though.

rachelle siegrist gatlinburg trail
Brrrrrr . . .  so refreshing!!!

Yesterday was spent at the 27th Wilderness Wildlife Week event held in Pigeon Forge.  What a fun and interesting day it was as we attended several different lectures and presentations, including a hammered dulcimer concert, as well as an old fashioned harp note singing!  We really enjoyed “The People of Cades Cove” presentation and were thrilled to hear stories about life in the cove from about a dozen people who were actually born inside the cove! I learned that “When you can step on your head, it’s 12 noon”, in other words being able to step on the shadow of your head.  Another person told about living in the cove after it became a National Park, that it was like the goldfish bowl effect, as people were always watching them and asking questions, mostly kind of ridiculous ones.  One tourist asked the cove resident if he realized there was a deer pasturing with his cattle, to which his father quickly replied, “Why yes I do . . . I milk her along with the cows!” (They had a Jersey Cow among their Herefords) I found this a brilliant answer to a silly question!  Another highlight was the presentation “What is it?” where the audience was shown objects found in the cove and we were to guess what they were, and I was thrilled to have guessed one correctly!  I also learned of a few more awesome places to camp, kayak and hike!  Needless to say, we came away more knowledgable in so many ways!


What a better way to cook a gourmet Mother’s Day lunch than over an open fire, so we did just that, and it was delicious! I want to wish all of you special Moms out there a very Happy Mothers Day, especially to my own amazing Mom who has loved, prayed for and taken care of our family in tremendous ways throughout the years, and to my special Mother-n-law Jeanie!

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Happy Mother’s Day to my most precious Mom, whom I love SO very much!!!

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I finished my latest dog commission this past week featuring a mule seat full of joy and love!!  I had so much fun painting this adorable bundle of fur and told their mommy I would love to sit on that seat and hold them all in my lap! You can’t help but smile when looking at this fun painting!

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My “A Mule Full!”

Wes finished his landscape painting of the John Oliver cabin in Cades Cove this past week, as viewed from a seldom seen angle.  We never tire of seeing, hiking to and painting these great historical beauties and national treasures!

“A Cabin in the Woods” by Wes

yellow lab painting, yellow Labrador Retriever painting, dog commission by rachelle siegrist

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

My Sister’s Wedding and a Visit From My Parents!

The Davis Clan
My family from the Davis side! (Photo courtesy of Justin’s mom, Kim)

Wednesday, a week ago, Wes and I left the airport in Knoxville, on a plane headed to Orlando, where my parents picked us up and we drove to Okeechobee. The next morning, we hit the ground running as we went into town, to help decorate for my sister, Hayley’s, wedding. Late that evening, my Aunt Nancy and her family arrived to spend this adventure filled weekend with all of us! Friday, Wes woke me up early, by saying quietly “The turkeys are here!” To this I jumped up out of bed, and with my cup full of cracked corn, I headed out into the yard to feed dad’s wild turkeys, which are more like pets really. What an awesome treat that was for me several mornings! That day, we enjoyed just visiting and catching up with one another on recent happenings, while watching the kids play. Wes and I also got to meet my cousin Jeanie’s two precious little boys, and my cousin Aaron’s wife, Elizabeth. The house was filled with lots of laughter and conversation, as we waited for my parents to return, so we could load a few remaining wedding things and all head into town for the rehearsal dinner that evening.

butterfinger cake
Aunt Nancy happily licked the Butterfinger wrappers after Jeanie smashed them, and then I crumbled them on top of Hayley’s special cake!
Happily in my 7th heaven . . . feeding the turkeys!
turkey photo
Dad’s turkey friends

The next morning, my brother Marshall, cousin Thomas and I got up early and headed to Grassy Island Trail, which is one of my favorite places to ride my bike! It was a beautiful morning, as we unloaded the bikes and started riding out across the semi-flooded cow pasture, which leads to the beginning of the trail. Although I’ve had the privilege of riding this wonderful trail with Marshall several times, this was Thomas’ first trip around and he rode it like a pro! We had an awesome time as we rode and enjoyed riding along the beautiful new south end section, which my brother and some friends made during the past couple of months. This section has an area where you ride back and forth through a creek several times, which was really filled with water with all of the recent rain they have received there. Needless to say, by the time we were through riding the 13 miles or more of trail, our backsides were covered in mud waist down! Well what kind of adventure would it be without bringing a little mud home with us! By the time we had rode the entire trail and part of it twice, peddling back across the water filled pasture wasn’t quite as easy as when we rode in! Nonetheless, water and all, the three of us had an awesome time!

photo of grassy island trail
Marshall, Thomas and I standing by one of the stunt logs they’re working on
cool sign at grassy island trail
A neat sign along the trail, which one of Marshall’s friends made out of a bicycle part
butterfly on cactus bloom
Marshall’s beautiful photo of a Prickly Pear Cactus bloom along the trail
me riding on grassy island trail
Me riding through a meadow area along the trail
after riding grassy island trail
Sporting out mud souvenirs from the trail, which we worked hard for!

We arrived home in time to help with lunch and then to get cleaned up and ready to drive to the church that afternoon for the wedding that evening. Of course we had to share all about our adventures while riding the trail that morning and about how impressed Marshall and I were with Thomas’ first trail ride! It resembled a noisy school cafeteria as we tried to get everyone fed lunch and the kitchen cleaned up afterwards! Somehow we did it and managed to leave for the church almost on time. It was a madhouse when we all arrived, people running this way and that, changing clothes and curling hair, but everyone managed to get  ready on time! The church was beautifully decorated as Tyler the ring bearer, and Haydyn the flower girl, walked down the isle, followed by the wedding attendants, then finally dad walking Hayley down. The ceremony was so pretty and reverent, and we couldn’t help but get tickled at Haydyn and Tyler occasionally doing funny things while trying to entertain themselves during the ceremony! After photos were taken, we joined the attendees at a nearby location for the reception dinner. The reception was decorated beautifully and everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner followed by my favorite part . . . eating the cake! My cousin Beth and Aunt Nancy enjoyed this part as much as I did, and Beth and I were not above asking for extra roses to eat . . . Yummy! Before we knew it, it had come to an end and Hayley and Justin made their way out of the building while we all blew bubbles, which surrounded them. Then it was time for the clean up, and with several friends pitching in to help the family, it went pretty fast. We enjoyed spending time with my Aunt Nancy and family again the next morning until they left for home after lunch. That evening we said our goodbyes to Marshall, Alicia and the kids, and then finished packing for our return trip home the next day.

aunt nancy and us with hayley
Aunt Nancy, me, Hayley, Justin and Thomas
(The 3 of us were standing in for Hayley’s late grandparents)
mom dad and hayley
Hayley and Justin with Mom and Dad
haydyn at the wedding
I thought this was a stunning photo of my precious niece Haydyn, which my brother Marshall took!

We left early last Monday morning, along with my parents to drive home to Townsend. They came to spend the week with us to recuperate from the wedding activities and just relax for a week. And rest and relax they did . . . the entire drive home and most of the next day! Unfortunately it has rained almost constantly since we returned home, which greatly limited what we could do in the nearby national park. However, we made the most of it, we planned around rainstorms, and managed to drive the beautiful loop road in Cades Cove the first evening we were home. We saw several deer, turkey and a black bear! The clouds parted at one point and offered a lovely sunset. The next day we all went and saw “The Lone Ranger” at the theater and decided that Johnny Depp as Tonto, made the movie! Friday morning, we went and walked up a nearby trail called Middle Prong, which follows a stream most of the way, featuring several beautiful cascades and a waterfall. They were simply gorgeous and roaring with great force after the recent rain, and created some amazing white water all along. We returned to the trailhead just in time to watch three kayakers go over one of the falls, which was spectacular and very exciting to say the least! After a late lunch at Pizza Hut, dad and I headed back into the park to hike to Spruce Flats Falls. It too was running with amazing force and we both enjoyed just sitting and relaxing for a bit, while watching and listening to it.

cades cove photo
A gorgeous sunset in Cades Cove
photo of spruce flats falls in the smoky mountains
Dad and me in front of my beloved Spruce Flats Falls

Saturday, we enjoyed a nice drive along the Foothills Parkway as we headed over to the Cherohalla Skyway. We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the way over, which ended up with us all sitting in the van when the rain started falling again, soon after we stopped. We were hoping to hike . . . rain free . . . up to two different balds. But alas it was not to be, so we just hiked to Hooper’s Bald in the misty rain, which sometimes turned into a drizzle. Nonetheless, it was beautiful as we walked along the lush green path, many times walking right through the clouds! Although there was no view from atop the bald, it was still beautiful with a few remaining Flame Azaleas blooming, and we felt almost as if we had hiked to the top of the world! We made it back to the van just before the deluge started and it rained like that for much of the trip back home! While driving along one of the back roads, we were stopped when a tree had fallen across the road. Not to worry though, the local guys who stopped their trucks and whipped out chainsaws, cut up the tree, and then pulled it off the road with a truck, live for moments like these! Passersby waved and tooted their horns as a “thank you” while driving by. Even with the torrents of rain, we had a delightful week full of lots and lots of laughter and made many happy memories together! This morning we said our sad goodbyes, and my parents left for FL.  Yes, they kindly sent me a couple of photos of the blue sky and sunshine once they crossed the “Sunshine State” line!

Today is Wes’ and my 23rd Anniversary. We spent it like most of you in the Eastern United States did . . . watching it rain . . . again.

Chilhowee Lake
Mom, Dad and I in front of beautiful Chilhowee Lake
foothills parkway
 Dad and Mom in front of a gorgeous view off of the Foothills Parkway

Fresh off the easel ~ Wes finished his miniature painting of a Tom Turkey week before last.

tom turkey painting
“A Handsome Tom” by Wes


Currently On Our Easels ~ I am working on a miniature painting featuring two Flamingos, and working on a couple for sketches for a commission.


To view all our upcoming exhibits:

~ 7th Annual Miniature Fine Art Show July 13 – August 10, 2013: Artistic Designs Gallery, Brownsburg, IN – We will be attending the opening reception on July 12th with Wes giving a talk on miniature art that evening. We will be teaching a workshop on miniature painting on Saturday, July 13th (9AM-4PM)


 Have a loved one or a beloved pet you would like captured in miniature? Contact and commission us!

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Until next time ~ Rachelle