Water adventures in the Smokies!
by Rachelle Siegrist
It was a gorgeous, clear, cool morning, one that was perfect for paddling! So we, along with friends Tom and Sharon, headed over to one of our nearby lakes to take advantage of the beautiful day. Soon we were climbing into our kayaks and heading to our destination for the day, a new one for Tom and Sharon. After a nice relaxing paddle, we went as far as we could along the winding, narrowing creek, before pulling over to the rocky shore. Climbing out of our kayaks, we stood there for a moment, mesmerized by the beautiful scenery surrounding us!
Within minutes Tom dove into the water wearing his mask and snorkel, making it look so inviting, that I just couldn’t resist jumping in too! It was a glorious day as we swam around in our personal paradise! We swam for quite awhile, enjoying the emerald green, crystal clear water, while watching abundant curious fish encircle and swim about us! Once I began to shake uncontrollably I decided it must be time for me to climb out of my emerald pool and warm up.
A Beautiful Chub Minnow ~ A gorgeous endangered Conasauga
Afterwards, we found an inviting rock, bathed in sunlight, where we sat enjoying our picnic lunch. Then Sharon and I walked up the riverbank a ways exploring and seeing what other inviting pools of water we might swim in, and and picnic by, during a future visit. Our personal, natural resort was just amazing and we hated to leave, but alas it was time to go, so we climbed into our kayaks and started our journey back, deciding we couldn’t wait to go back!
Meanwhile back at the studio, Wes and I were at the easels painting along, when we got a phone call from a friend and his family who were visiting from Florida, and wanted to get together for a short hike. So the six of us headed to one of my favorite waterfalls nearby where we enjoyed munching on our Subway sandwiches while sitting at the base of the falls. We were well entertained by two teenage brothers daring each other to jump into the pool of water off of a lower rock. After the younger one jump in twice the other one finally gathered the courage and did it! Even though none of our crew did any jumping we had a ball wading and splashing in the chilly pool at the base of the falls.
Another evening this week was our date night with little Chance, so we along with his grandparents, headed into the park and found a secluded peaceful spot on the river where we could play and relax for awhile, and of course have a picnic. While the boys snorkeled and videoed fish, Chance loved tubing down the small cascade he calls a waterfall with his girlfriend Shell. “Weeeeeee” he squealed in delight going down, saying “Do it again!” each time we got to the bottom! He’s just like his Mamaw and me, in that he’s never ready to leave the river no matter how late it gets!
A stunning Rock Bass ~ War Paint Shiner and other brightly colored minnows
Yesterday morning, our visiting friends from Florida and others from Michigan, as well as several neighbors, met us at the river early for more tubing adventures! Crisp, cool air, as well as the fact that the sun had not quite yet peeked over the mountain, made it a bit cool, so we were all a little slow about getting in to the frigid water. However, we finally mustered up the courage and before long everybody was in. Young Ryan wanting to jump off the rocks into the river, wasn’t quite sure about it, so Wes bravely stepped up, climbed up onto the rock and jumped into the river, while sporting the perfect form of what’s called a “can-opener”, thus making quite a splash!
Within seconds Ryan was following right behind him and the boys jumped a couple more times with Ryan doing an impressive backflip while jumping in! Of course with the two of them doing it, Paul was the next one jumping in sending up a splash so big it drenched everyone around! For our next adrenaline rush we all tubed down the first big set of cascades numerous times, where loud squeals filled the air, as the icy water splashed up covering us, as we bounced down the whitewater!
Our friend Kit’s sister Becky and his mom Helen, brought a BIG yellow rubber duck down to the river, which was a BIG hit and we kids, big and small, had a ball playing on it for the next hour or so! I couldn’t help but burst out in song singing . . . “Rubber Ducky, you’re so fine . . .” and each time I did so, poor Ryan jumped off, saying “I’m outta here!” Of course I would stop singing and wait until he got back on, wait a few minutes and burst out in song again, sending him diving into the water!
A fun challenge became trying to see just how many people we could pile onto the large yellow bird that was hard to miss. Before leaving the river, we learned that we and our BIG yellow friend had been filmed for an upcoming news feature on a local TV station! Afterwards, we enjoyed lunch at Pizza Hut, and later that evening, as Sharon and I made our last trip tubing down the river, a couple dozen Canada Geese flew directly above us in their stately “V” formation, and I said “Wow . . . It just doesn’t get any better than this!”
~ Fresh off the Easels ~
While I’m currently painting on a couple of commissions that are surprise gifts, Wes finished his miniature painting of an adorable Meerkat who lives at the Louisville Zoo, who is obviously thoroughly enjoying the warmth of the sun! Meerkats are one of our favorite mammals to watch at zoos, with their hilarious antics, and are just as much fun to paint!
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Until next time . . .