Water, Painting and Wonderful Fun!

Water adventures in the Smokies!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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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!  

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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.

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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?
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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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”

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

A Bike Ride Around Cades Cove

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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.

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A beautiful setting in Cades Cove
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Wes on the cross over for the hog fencing
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The beautiful Black Gum Swamp located inside Cades Cove
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Weeeeeee . . . I’m having a blast!!!
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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!

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One of our Carolina Wren’s precious babies
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A few of our lovely Wisteria blossoms up close and personal
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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 


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Until next time ~ Rachelle