Kayaking, Camping And Hiking!!!

Three days of heaven!

by Rachelle Siegrist

kayaking with rachelle siegrist.jpg
In my little boat

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!

rachelle siegrist hiking in fall.jpg
Enjoying a dreamy hike

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.

hiking with rachelle siegrist.jpg
A falling leaf

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!

rachelle siegrist swimming.jpg

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.

wes siegrist kayaking with gnats.jpg
Gnats . . . Gnats . . . everywhere!!!

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. 

fall photo rachelle siegrist.jpg
The mountains bathed in the golden evening sunlight
wes siegrist kayaking in the sunset.jpg
Wes rounding a corner

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!

sunset while kayaking .jpg
Another glorious sunset

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!

rachelle siegrist kayaking.jpg
Videoing the early morning mist

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!

rachelle siergist kayaking with ducks
Surrounded by Blue-winged Teals

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!

underwater organism.jpg
A neat Bryozoan colony Wes spotted while kayaking

~ 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!

My “A Mule in the Sun”

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 Little Mermaid by Rachelle Siegrist
Our Little Mermaid

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.

Exquisite Miniatures

~ —————()————— ~

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

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

Follow us on Facebook!

Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Water, Painting and Wonderful Fun!

Water adventures in the Smokies!

by Rachelle Siegrist

siegrists kayaking.jpg

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!  

rachelle siegrist kayaking.jpg
Paddling along with the video camera on my head

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.

rachelle siegrist swimming
Oh . . . don’t be a chicken Sharon . . . it’s so nice and warm . . . Ha Ha!

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!

rachelle siegrist in the smokies
Can you spot the girls in their pink?
turtle photo
A lovely turtle enjoys the sun

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.

rachelle siegrist by waterfall.jpg
Ryan, Cheryl, Paul, Naomi and me enjoying the waterfall!

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!

racelle siegirst and chance tubing.jpg
Little Chance and his girlfriend Shell tubing

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!

wes siegrist jumping.jpg
Nice one Wes!!!

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!

wes siegrist in the river
Ryan doing an impressive back flip while diving in!

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!

rachelle siegrist floating on big rubber duck
A duck full . . . Ryan, Naomi, me, Sharon and Tom!

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!”

rachelle siegrist flaoting
Come on Kit . . . We can fit one more on!

~ 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!

Meerkat painting, Life At Its Best by Wes Siegrist
Wes’ “Life At It’s Best”

~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

Follow us on Facebook!

Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

A Bike Ride Around Cades Cove

cades cove photo
Doing one of my favorite things . . . riding my bike in Cades Cove!

It was our first bike ride of the season around the loop road in Cades Cove, when it’s closed to vehicles on Wednesday mornings until 10 AM. It’s a beautiful time to be in the cove, as it’s so amazingly quiet and peaceful without the sounds of motors running! Most of the time, all that can be heard is the distant gobble of a turkey or a snort of a deer, with the early morning breeze rustling the leaves on the trees above. There is however, the occasional sound of bike brakes being applied, which temporarily interrupt the natural symphony, and usually comes from my own obnoxious brakes. While riding along, we saw several White-tailed Deer and turkey wandering about the open, grassy fields. Although they had been seen in the cove the day before, unfortunately, we didn’t see any Black Bear. Oh well, hopefully next time! Being early in the season, there wasn’t that many riders, so most of the time it seemed as if we had the entire cove to ourselves, which was wonderful indeed! We stopped a few times to just admire the vast landscape bathed in the early morning sunlight, and I must admit a couple of times to just catch our breath! Having not visited the Black Gum Swamp in many years, we decided it was the perfect opportunity, and so we stopped to saunter down to it and take some photos. It is encircled with hog proof fencing and has a step-over built out of 4x4s and 2x6s which you climb to get over the fence. The still, dark water of the swamp was beautiful, as it reflected the entire scene, which lay overhead! It was like seeing double of everything! From there we continued riding along the curvy, and at times, steep road, until we came to Sparks Lane, which is a gravel road that cuts across through the open fields to the other side of the cove. Halfway across, the river crosses over the road, and I must say I had a ball riding back and forth through it a couple of times on my bike! I would ride at a good rate of speed and send the water flying into the air each time I crossed it, exclaiming how much my nephew Tyler and niece Haydyn would absolutely love doing this with me! Instead of trying it himself, Wes decided to just go with my thoughts on the experience, and so we headed back to the main loop road to continue our way around. Soon we had made it the entire way and were back to the van, where we loaded our bikes and made our way home.

cades cove photo
A beautiful setting in Cades Cove
cades cove photo
Wes on the cross over for the hog fencing
cades cove photo
The beautiful Black Gum Swamp located inside Cades Cove
riding bikes in cades cove
Weeeeeee . . . I’m having a blast!!!
crow photo
A Crow perches on the split rail fence in Cades Cove

Nice weather has made it very pleasant for dining on our back porch this past week, so we’ve enjoyed most meals out there. The food seems to taste even better being eaten outside, and you can’t beat the entertainment, with all of our little feathered and furry friends joining us while eating their treats and sometimes interacting in funny or strange ways. We have a pair of doves, and the male seems to think he is a major Casanova, and so he stands up tall, puffs up his salmon colored chest feathers, and approaches the female while singing “Who-Who” over and over to her. Well, she is usually just wanting to eat and when he gets close enough, all of a sudden she raises a wing and you hear this “Whap . . .whap-whap . . . whap . . . whap”, and we look over and this timid female has become a she-Rambo and is beating the mess out of this poor male! Although you can’t help but feel a bit sorry for the poor fellow, it is indeed a hilarious thing to watch! Now for the complete other side of the spectrum.  We observed a gorgeous pair of Cedar Waxwings sitting sweetly close together in the Mulberry Tree by our back porch. Well, the one flew down and got a berry off of our Pyracantha bush and flew back up to the limb, with it in its beak. At this point it passed it to the other one and they passed this bright red berry back and forth several times, while appearing to toss and catch it. I told Wes that it looked as if they were playing a game of “Hot potato!” The things critters do is always amazing and so many times quite entertaining I must say!

carolina wren photo
One of our Carolina Wren’s precious babies
wisteria photo
A few of our lovely Wisteria blossoms up close and personal
photo of peonies
A couple of my prized Peonies

Much of the past week has been spent with us painting during the day, while also enjoying our daily walks. We had neighbor friends over to watch old movies one evening this past week, and on another evening, met several others at our local Pizza Hut for dinner before spending the remainder of the evening talking and relaxing at their beautiful home. We’re also looking forward to our artist friend Kit, coming to join us for dinner tomorrow evening. Wes has spent several hours this past week working in the garden and watching things start to grow. I’ve added a few more flowers to my collections in our gardens as well. I’ll share some photos of what’s blooming in our yard currently with you next week, as I want to share a few more photos of our great weekend spent with friends last weekend. So sit back and enjoy . . .

dinner at the lodge
The happy campers from L to R ~ Woody holding Sophie, Donna, Stephen, Vicki, Niek, Sharon, John, Susan, Me and Wes . . . Thanks to Niek for sharing his great photo!
the old lodge
The beautiful old lodge with delicate Bluets blooming in the foreground
smoky mountain stream
This has to be the best grilling spot I’ve ever seen!
beautiful old tree photo
I absolutely loved this old tree full of character and sporting a posted sign which moss was growing all over . . . I guess moss has no respect for private property!

Currently On Our Easels:  I just finished my still life painting of chocolate!  It was so hard to try and photograph it without eating it!!!  But alas I somehow managed and thus was able to paint my miniature of it, while drooling . . . hee hee!  Wes also finished his painting of this precious little Anna’s Hummingbird which he photographed during our recent trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

miniature still life painting of chocolate
Mmmm … Chocolate! by Rachelle


annas hummingbird painting
“Anna’s Hummingbird” by Wes

~ This week’s featured show ~

EXQUISITE MINIATURES Tour Produced by David J. Wagner

Until June 2 at the Museum Of The Gulf Coast, Port Arthur, TX

Exquistie Miniatures on display at the Museum of the gulf cost
“Exquisite Miniatures” on display at the Museum of the Gulf Coast

~ To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html 


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

Don’t forget to “Sign Up” to receive an email each time I update the blog!

Until next time ~ Rachelle