When It Gets Hot . . . Jump In The Water!

Summertime Fun in the Smokies!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Wow . . . this week’s been a hot one for us here in the Smokies, and while it’s too warm to do almost anything outdoors, it’s been perfect for playing in the river!  So we’ve taken time to do just that several mornings this past week.  We like going early in the morning, when everything seems fresh and new, and although the water is even more frigid, it’s worth the trade off to us!  Friends Tom and Sharon, and sometimes our neighbor Mike, joined us each morning and it became an unspoken contest of who would brave the frigid water first.  I’m pretty sure Wes was the first one in most mornings!

noethern hogsucker photo
A Northern Hogsucker

“Woooo-weeeee!” filled the air, as each one stepped into the icy water, instantly cooling off!  Thankfully your emerged skin goes numb quickly, no longer freezing but feeling quite pleasant, or at least tolerable.  “No pain . . .  No gain” I tell Sharon each time, trying to convince her to go ahead and get in. Visually enjoying the rocks and surrounding tree covered mountainsides while listening to sounds of the water crashing down the cascades, our feet and legs enter a world inhabited by numerous fish, some brightly colored and truly amazing to see indeed!

Tom snorkeling with the fish
Oooooooo . . .  very scary Papaw monster!


Creatures of the deep lagoon!

Many times Sharon and I make a couple of trips tubing down the river, while the guys snorkel different areas, and  it’s always great fun to hear what all they’ve seen in our absence.  This past week while snorkeling and relaxingly watching the abundant fish swim by, Wes suddenly came face-to-face with a Banded Water Snake, that needless to say, caught him off guard, scaring him as much as it did the poor snake, who was just hoping for a fish instead of a monster!

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Hang On . . .  Here we go!!!

As you can see in the photos, we have had a blast this past week playing with our new “toy”.  An inexpensive underwater camera.  It’s been nice not worrying about dropping our camera while playing in the water.

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Oooooooo-Weeeeee , , , , Now this is fun!!!

Wes was the first to use it,  videoing some of our beautiful native fish species before sharing it with me.  Proudly wearing the camera on my head, with an added strap tied under my chin for extra security, I headed down the initial torrent of rapids, while capturing the first video of many I hope to get. We’re planning on compiling the videos from our water adventures at the end of the summer to create an entertaining movie for you all to enjoy, making you feel as if you’re right there with us experiencing the fun!

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Chance having a ball!

Friday evening we enjoyed spending time with our friend’s grandson Chance, who loves the river as much as we big kids do. Within no time he was going down what he deemed “A waterfall . . . the big one!” and having an absolute blast doing it!

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The little adrenaline junkie!

Meanwhile Wes and Tom did a bit of snorkeling, getting great videos of several beautiful and brightly colored native fish. Here are a few photos for you to enjoy . . .

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A pretty little Darter
Northern Hogsucker
A larger Northern Hogsucker
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One of my fav’s . . . the stunning Warpaint Shiner and a few friends!
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Our lovely native Brook Trout

We all swam, tubed and played, while enjoying the delightfully refreshing escape from the heat.  Of course by the river, or better yet in the river, is a great place to enjoy a picnic. So I took my chair out into the middle of the stream, and sat next to a large rock, serving as a drink holder, while enjoying my sandwich in yet another fantastic outdoor restaurant! 

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Chance loves spinning with Chell

Afterwards with his new love of tubing the waterfalls, Chance spent quite some time trying to figure out how to slip past us grownups to enjoy going down the cascades alone. Since this became an obvious losing prospect, he decided to stack all of the boats instead, calling them a big sandwich, and commenced pulling them around in the river.  Once again many more wonderful memories were made, and Wes and I have certainly enjoyed this form of daily exercise much better then walking around town in the heat.

rachelle siegrist in the river
Chance says “I need your tube Chell . . . go sit over there

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

Here’s a recent drawing I did of an adorable little Yorkie named Benji. Wes is currently putting the finishing touches on a landscape from Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, and I’m finishing a landscape featuring the Dan Lawson place from Cades Cove.

Yorkie drawing, Benji by Rachelle Siegrist

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Sun…Sand…And Surf!

Fun with family at the beach!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Our family taking over the pool

We landed in Punta Gorda, FL last Friday a week ago, where my parents, niece and nephew picked us up, starting our family adventure in Ft. Myers, while celebrating my parent’s upcoming 50th Wedding Anniversary.  We weren’t at the hotel very long, before getting in the large pool, and what a delightful surprise to find it was heated!  Soon we were joined by my brother and sister and their families.

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A great photo-op at the Shell factory

We woke to the sound of falling rain Saturday morning and unfortunately it hung around for the day. So we all headed to the Shell Factory which turned out to be quite an experience, as it was filled with everything from shells and gemstones from around the world to a room full of pirates!  Needless to say the kids had a ball exploring everything, and even my little niece, Raelynn, feel in love with a skeleton pirate, and enjoyed her first horse ride with help from her Uncle Wes.

Raelynn is in love ~ Happy 1st horse ride

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Mom, Dad and Raelynn in the Shell Factory

We ate supper at the Shrimp Shack which was a treat for our taste buds!  While eating a gentleman from the table next to us stood up and said to my dad . . . “Larry Davis . . . Is that you?”  Looking over at them, we quickly recognized them, and we’re delighted that it was some dear friends and our pastor for many years when I was a teenager!  The air was filled with laughter and joyful sounds, as hugs were given after not seeing each other for 27 years, and it was a happy reunion indeed!  By then the rain had finally ended, so we spent the remainder of the evening playing mini golf at Smugglers Cove. Greeted by alligators and a life-sized pirate ship, our golfing adventure only got better as we went along!

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Marshall, Alicia, Haydyn and Tyler

We woke the next morning and we’re thrilled to see it wasn’t raining, so off we went to Lovers Key State Park, a favorite beach of mine in the Ft. Myers’s area!  Soon our happy toes were walking through powdery white sand, and within minutes in the water!  The kids were having a blast hanging on to my pink float and diving down to look for shells. They would pop up out of the water, holding shell treasures, which were placed on the float, and added to as more were found.

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Me, Haydyn, Bubba and Allison . . . a float full!

We decided to enjoy our picnic lunch beachside, while enjoying the gorgeous view from our sandy restaurant!  After lunch, several of us enjoyed another hour or more of fun while swimming and floating around in our salty paradise.  But alas the time had come for our fun to end, and we headed back to Okeechobee, where my parents live. Reluctantly the kids, including the tall one… me, left while telling the beach goodbye.

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A family that surfs together . . . stays together!

My brother was able to get off work early Tuesday, so we all headed over to my all time favorite beach, which my brother and I have always called the “pay beach” since we had to pay to go, as it is a State Park in Ft. Pierce.  With  surfboards and boogie boards in tow, we headed down the sandy path to the beach, and noticed immediately that the waves were great and some amazing waves were coming in sets of three,  giving thrilling rides as we rode them in!  We spent a few hours there while constantly enjoying the great surf!  

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Tyler at the end of a good ride!

After riding my brother’s longboard in a couple of times, I was heading back out when another huge wave crashed on me, jerking the longboard, and snapping my two fingers, that I somehow had managed to get wrapped up in the surfboard leash, and I was amazed when I came out of the water and saw that I still actually had my fingers!  They’re still black and blue, but at least I can bend them, and can touch them without bringing tears to my eyes!  Guess that’s the kind of souvenirs that adrenaline junkies bring home!

Haydyn and Wes building the longest sand castle ~ With their boards ~ Haydyn buried

We’re back home in the Smokies now, and my family is here visiting this week, enjoying more adventures and making more memories!  I’m delighted to be able to spend Father’s Day with my dad this year, and want to wish him, my father-n-law George, and all of you dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day!!


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

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle