An Adventurous Week With Family!

An Adventurous Week With Family!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Tyler and Haydyn enjoy walking on our trail with a wee bit of snow

We enjoyed an adventurous fun filled week with my parents, niece and nephew, starting with a happy reunion a week ago!  Last Sunday morning while driving to Fort Loudoun State Park, we stopped along the Foothills Parkway to play in the dusting of snow.  We managed to scrape up enough to build a small snowman, we named Poe and placed at the base of the windshield.  Poe managed to last through our picnic at Chilhowee Lake, and much of the drive until all that remained was his head and an arm, which blew off while driving down the road, obviously filling the truck with laughter!

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Mom, Dad, Haydyn, me, Tyler, Wes, Sharon and Tom at Fort Loudoun

Once at the fort, the kids enjoyed exploring the numerous buildings, finding old canons, and checking out historical artifacts!  Haydyn and I even made special brick oven “pizzas” for everyone, from pieces of bark, stones and sticks in a brick fireplace.  Blue skies above and ample sunshine made for a great day while roaming throughout the picturesque fort and the evening culminated with a delicious supper at a favoriteMexican restaurant.

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Haydyn and me making special brick oven pizzas

The next morning Wes showed the kids how to draw and design their own forts. Once completed, we each explained how our forts worked and what everything was, and Tyler informed me that mine called “NoNo’s Happy Fort” was going down, because of the chocolate fountain and palm trees in the center court yard, as well as the fact that the canons shot out chocolate kisses instead of bullets, and the alligators swam in a chocolate filled moat!  

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Drawing and designing our forts

That afternoon we hiked up nearby Middle Prong Trail, and the kids had a ball exploring and seeing the waterfalls and cascades!  We petted lots of thick green moss, skipped rocks and pretended how much fun it would be to tube down some of the big cascades!  They really loved the old, long, metal bridge and floating pieces of bark, our boats, down the white water!

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Haydyn and me

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Dad, Tyler and me found the perfect spot . . .  out on a fallen tree

Tyler and Larry by falls
Dad and Tyler sitting by one of the many cascades

Clouds, cold and drizzly rain made it a perfect day Tuesday for spending the afternoon at friends Sharon and Tom’s house, while Sharon helped the kids make special cards and projects.  That evening they, as well as friend Kit, joined us for a taco party at our house, with everyone enjoying playing in ping pong tournaments!  

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Wes and I are happy to have influenced their likes … Bats and Rattlesnakes!

We spent Wednesday afternoon in Cade’s Cove, where we counted close to 80 deer while driving around the loop road.  We stopped to walk and see historical buildings and play in the wee dusting of snow at times, and I must admit we all just about froze to death!  That evening we joined several friends for a delicious supper at Pizza Hut, and played pool here at the house afterwards.

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Tyler, Mom, Wes, Haydyn and Dad in Cades Cove . . . I thought I saw the camera . . . obviously not!

Although Thursday brought clear blue skies and sunshine, it was still a cold one!  So we bundled up and headed for the Knoxville Zoo, where we had a great time seeing all of the animals and exhibits!  A highlight for the kids was riding a camel for the first time, and for me it was spending time singing a duet with Georgie the Gibbon, as well as watching a mother gorilla cradling and feeding her baby! Delighted to have captured the precious intimate moment in a photo, I can’t wait to paint it!

knoxville zoo camel ride
Tyler and Haydyn having a blast!

Lots of fun and excitement at the zoo!

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Haydyn and I ride a friendly Komodo Dragon

Friday we hiked to a nearby waterfall, and I am thrilled to say I have two new little hiker buddies, who absolutely love hiking now, especially to waterfalls!  They had a great time climbing over the rocks and standing at the base of the falls!  We watched water striders and small minnows swimming, petted lush moss and smelled wee wildflowers. Needless to say, we had an awesome time!

Haydyn and Tyler by the falls ~ Dad, me, Haydyn and Tyler walking the trail

That evening friends joined us for fresh baked brownies on the screen porch and the kids, big (me) and little, had fun walking and playing on the trail in the back woods.  Little Chance immediately fell in love with my family, especially Haydyn, and while sitting by her on the porch swing, sweetly told her “hold hands” in his tiny little voice, and as you can imagine the rest of us said “Ohhhhhh” with big smiles on our faces!

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Tyler, Wes, Chance and Haydyn

Sadly, the next morning it was time for big hugs and goodbyes, and after our fun, adventure filled week, nobody was ready to go home!  Needless to say we’re already looking forward to their next visit!!!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Adventures and Fun With Wes’ Family!

A fun week with Wes’ parents!”

By Rachelle Siegrist

The Siegrists and Kit Gentry at the knoxville ZooThanks to Kit for this nice photo of us at the Knoxville Zoo

Wes’ parents arrived a week ago today, anxious to spend the week with us here in the Smokies! The next morning, we headed into nearby Cades Cove in time to enjoy a nice lunch in the picnic area. We found the perfect spot along the river and all was well until I realized I had forgot the bread! “Not to worry”…I exclaimed…“We’ll just have lettuce wraps instead”. With full tummies we started the lovely drive around the loop, stopping to pet and feed carrots to the resident horses. We then took a short walk to Elijah Oliver’s cabin and barn, enjoying the beginnings of fall color along the way. Leaving there, we meandered around and through the many historical buildings by the visitor center, before driving the last half of the loop road leading out of the cove.

rachelle siegrist photographing horses in cades coveJeanie feeds carrots to the horse while I took his photo

Wes siegrist in cades cove picnic areaGeorge, Wes and Jeanie at our bread-less picnic

wes and george siegrist in cades coveWes and George hold down the fence

Tuesday was spent at the Knoxville Zoo, with friend Kit, joining us! The weather was gorgeous once again, as we walked about, admiring, watching and photographing the many zoo residents. A favorite was watching and listening to a beautiful Gibbon named Georgie, entertain us with his version of The Barber of Seville, sung with the finest Gibbon opera voice, as he swung around and hung upside down! It seemed the more we all laughed, the more excited he became to entertain! Other favorites included the petting zoo of course, as well as watching the Meerkats and Otters play. As usual, Wes and I got numerous photos that will become future miniature paintings!

george siegrist at knoxville zooJeanie sees the zoo in relaxed style

rachelle siegrist in cage at zooWes wanted to take this critter home with him!

rachelle siegrist petting goatsWhile brushing the one, the other just gently butted me to inform of his wishes to also be brushed, and of course no goat can go un-brushed when I’m there!

rachelle siegrist photographing ottersKit and I try unsuccessfully to photograph the otter swimming at warp speed!

Wednesday, after a relaxing day of hanging out at the house, with me baking a loaf of the Ultimate Banana Nut Bread, as the recipe from Cooks Illustrated called it, we met several friends at our local Mexican restaurant for supper. Afterwards we all went for a yummy ice cream at our favorite ice cream place, and I must say most of us about froze to death! That night I did a quick pack job, as we got ready to head up to Dale Hollow Lake the next morning, where we were meeting Wes’ brother, Greg, for a couple of days.

We arrived at Dale Hollow about mid-day and as soon as we checked into the hotel, we headed down to the marina to join Greg on his boat. It was another gorgeous day, with lots of sunshine and clear blue skies above, which thrilled both Greg and I greatly, since we’re the sun lovers in the family! Within no time we had arrived at a favorite snorkeling destination, and as soon as I could muster up the courage to get in the cold water, I was submerged and thrilled to be swimming once again! Thankfully there were numerous pockets of warmer water scattered about as I swam and snorkeled around. The neatest thing was when Greg rounded up a large bass and steered him towards me, where he then swam directly below me! After that exciting episode, I now call Greg the bass wrangler! Later, when I began shaking uncontrollably, I decided I had better get out and warm up a bit.

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Cold . . .  but oh so much fun!

snorkeling with rachelle siegrist at dale hollow lake

Greg and I snorkeling and looking for bass

Sunset Marina was some distance away, so we enjoyed a most pleasant boat ride as we headed to our supper destination. The view was great and food delicious, with most of us having their signature smoked potato salad with our meals. After eating it, we all agreed with our most entertaining red-headed waiter, that it was indeed deliciously different! As we left, the sun dipped low, painting the vast skies above in pinks and oranges, as we enjoyed the chilly ride back to the lodge where we were staying for the night. The next morning we took a nice hike up to Boom Ridge, where upon arriving at the rock ledge, were rewarded with a spectacular view of Dale Hollow Lake! It was lunchtime when we returned, so after a quick picnic, we loaded the boat once again for another fun afternoon on the lake.

rachelle siegrist on Boom Ridge at dale hollow lakeGreg, George and I on Boom Ridge overlooking the lake

This time we went to a small island in the middle of the deep, clear lake, and I was most thrilled when Greg said he had a wetsuit, which I could borrow! “Where was this offer yesterday” I thought as I quickly suited up.  Wes, Greg and I snorkeled around the island and along the top of a submerged ridge, where we saw several large and medium sized bass, as well as lots of beautiful Sunfish, which are my personal favorites! With the life saving wetsuit, I was able to stay in the water for almost two hours, while enjoying watching the fish, relaxing and swimming over to the island, where I got out and explored a bit. Having been out of the water for awhile and warm once again, I fell into the water on the first attempt of trying to get onto the tube, where I got ready for a thrilling ride! This time Wes had the honor of driving the boat, towing me in high-speed behind. I really enjoyed seeing the lake shore from a fast-skimming duck’s point of view, while flying along, bouncing over wakes, as we zipped along the lake! I rode for miles and miles as we crossed back and forth into two states, TN and KY, so I really covered some serious territory!

rachelle siegrist on island at dale hollow lake

Me with the lone tree on the island in the middle of the lake

snorkeling dale hollow lakeIn my 7th heaven once again!!!

rachelle siegrist tubing at dale hollow lakeWes drives, while I hold on and the everyone else just relaxes awhile

Having personally worked up an appetite, I was quite hungry and ready to eat supper! That evening, we ate at the Wisdom marina restaurant, where we sat on a floating dock surrounded by water filled with lots of spoiled, chunky fish! As the waitress began taking our orders, each one of us were informed that they no longer had any of “that” left, but that they still had tater tots. So when we were later laughing and joking that you could either have tater tots . . . tater tots . . . or tater tots, the waitress returned with the news that they unfortunately had no more coleslaw, so Wes and George said they guessed they’d have more tater tots! What a hoot, and the food was yummy to boot, and with the surplus of tater-tots, we shared some with the anxious fish, turning them into a swarm of writhing piranhas! I must say I feel sorry for the poor soul who had their heart set on getting tater-tots there the next day, as I’m sure after us, there was none of those left either! We enjoyed another gorgeous, relaxing ride back to the marina parking lot, where we said goodbyes to Greg, returning to Townsend later that night.


siegrist family at dale hollow lakeAnyone want some tater tots????

sunrise on dale hollow lake

A stunning sunrise on Dale Hollow

Yesterday was spent at our Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, while enjoying the festivities accompanying their Country Fair, with Kit joining us. Beautiful chickens could be admired and goats and sheep enjoyed being petted, before we watched the children’s greased pig contest, then visited the historical buildings, filled with people dressed in period attire, carrying out chores of that time. Afterwards we visited our local Little River Railroad museum, which was most informative. Later that evening, George, Kit and I walked back down to the Visitor center, where we enjoyed listening to the live bluegrass music and watching the numerous cloggers at the Old Timers Festival. It was yet another fun day, and as Wes’ parents left this morning, they took home many great memories with them of our adventure filled week!

country fair at smoky mounatin heritage center

She was intently listening as I spoke chicken to her

little river railroad in townsendJeanie, George and I at the Little River Railroad Museum

rachelle siegrist and sheep at heritage center

She absolutely loved the back massage I gave her!

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Until next time . . .
~ Rachelle

A Fun Time With Family

A beautiful snowfall on fall leaves atop Newfound Gap.
A beautiful snowfall on fall leaves atop Newfound Gap.

        My family arrived later Saturday evening, a week ago, after a very strong cold front was just pushing through. Needless to say the temps here in the 40’s that night were a big change from the 90’s they left in Florida one day earlier! Sunday morning we woke up to beautiful sunshine, which to me was a welcome and beautiful sight after two weeks of grey skies and rain. After learning that it had snowed in the upper elevations in the Park, we loaded up with as many jackets as would cram into the back of the van and headed into the Smoky Mountain National Park. We ate a quick and cold picnic lunch in the van on the way up, which proved to be quite interesting with seven adults and a baby. The journey took a couple of hours to make since everybody seemed to be going up to see the snow as well.  On the positive side, only being able to drive eight to twelve miles an hour, due to traffic, you certainly have a chance to see everything around you.

Me, Hayley, Marshall and Tyler posing with Mr. cool snowman.
Me, Hayley, Marshall and Tyler posing with Mr. cool shades snowman.

        Once we reached Newfound Gap it was time to get out and enjoy the snow while trying to keep warm. Being the first time my sister-n-law Alicia or nephew Tyler had ever seen or been in the snow, you can imagine it was pretty exciting for them as it was for us all. Tyler was way too adorable in his coat that Wes and I had got him that was a bit too big, but was very padded and warm! He was such a good sport as he walked along, periodically falling down and patiently lying there until someone came to his rescue and picked him back up, while the rest of us were all laughing at his precious misfortune. Tyler was also gracious enough to let his Aunt Rachelle gently throw an occasional snowball at him. We happily made the use of the quiet end of a trail to build a snowman and adorn him with my brother Marshall’s cool sunglasses and hat!

Tyler making friends with a resident Meercat at the Knoxville Zoo.
Tyler making friends with a resident meerkat at the Knoxville Zoo.

        Monday was spent at the Knoxville Zoo enjoying all of the local residents. The highlight of the visit was getting to watch the baby Chimpanzee exploring and playing in its enclosure, with it occasionally coming over to give a “high five” to the small children in front of the glass window. He was just too cute, and I could’ve stood there and watched him all day! I think Tyler got as excited about all of the decorated pumpkins that were displayed throughout the zoo as he did all of the different animals and birds. It was a perfect day filled with fun and excitement with the gorgeous fall weather and colors adding to the overall beauty. Of course I had to make a personal visit to the petting zoo to brush all of the goats and pet the sheep, which by obvious faces enjoyed it! I also had to take a ride down a long winding slide in the children’s section, which was great fun until halfway down I realized there was water on it! This brought my swift, fun ride almost to a complete halt and totally soaked my backside! Oh well, what is life if you don’t live it 🙂

Mom (Sally), Tyler, Dad (Larry) and me by the Beavers home.
Mom (Sally), Tyler, Dad (Larry) and me by the Beaver's home.

Me still enjoying the way down, dispite the surprise on the way down.
Me still enjoying the ride, despite the surprise on the way down

        We enjoyed another wonderful day on Wednesday, driving up the Foothills Parkway and on up to the Cherohala Skyway. It was a gorgeous day with stunning views along the way showing off an array of beautiful fall colors. Wes and I enjoyed our return trip to Huckleberry Bald and sharing this gorgeous spot with my family. Most stayed on the lower bald, while my Dad, Hayley, Wes and I went on to the top bald. The view from the top was spectacular and afforded a 365 degree view of the surrounding mountains decked in fall color on the lower portions. It is the kind of place which I could take  lunch and a blanket and spend hours and never tire of the magnificent beauty and sounds of nature! My brother Marshall and Tyler enjoyed playing and rolling in the grassy field on top of the mountain deciding they too could’ve spent hours there.

My family feeling on top of the world on Huckleberry Blad.
My family feeling on top of the world on Huckleberry Bald.

        Friday it was time for them to say good-bye and head back to Florida, which was a sad departure for us all. Before they left however, we had a little more fall fun with me dropping piles of leaves on Tyler while he would stand in amazement and extreme excitement, and after the last leaf had fallen he would yell in a most adorable way “WOW”. I could’ve carried on this activity with him for hours. After they left I tried it with Wes, but somehow it wasn’t the same and I didn’t get the “WOW” response. Oh well, perhaps Tyler’s little sister, that’s on the way, will enjoy the same activity with me in a couple of years

Until next time    ~     Rachelle     🙂