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


Enjoying Our Winter Wonderland With Wes’ Parents!

tremont road in snow

We enjoyed a fun and adventure filled week, with Wes’ parents, who arrived last Sunday. The first couple of days of the visit, the weather was yucky, so we opted to spend most of our time in the big city of Maryville. However, Tuesday night brought positive changes and we woke up to a world covered in white Wednesday morning! So right after lunch, we headed into the nearby Tremont area of the Smoky Mountain National Park. A winter wonderland awaited us, and as we drove higher, the surrounding scene became even more beautiful! After reaching the end of the road and parking, we suited up and headed out into the world of white. I saw several guys carrying their kayaks towards the upper part of the river, so I quickly went to the bridge. Minutes after getting there, we found ourselves in the middle of a short-lived blizzard. Although it made it very cold and harder to see, it was still beautiful!


We took several photos, and at that point Wes and his dad left us and went to the van. Jeanie and I decided to wait for the kayakers, so we waited . . . and waited . . . and waited. Just as we were about to abandon my mission of getting photos of them, finally we saw a glimpse of bright color in the black and white world, so I got out the camera and got ready. I must say it was well worth the chilly wait, as the photos came out splendidly! As I watched the group of adventurers, I must say I decided then and there to add yet another thrill to my personal bucket list, that being to kayak in the snow! The entire scene was surreal, as the four brightly colored kayaks made their way down the roaring river, and I felt very blessed to have been at the right place at the right time!

kayaking in the smoky mountain national park

kayaking in the little river

We watched them for several minutes before retreating to the warm van. We had slowly started driving back, when I noticed that the kayakers were approaching in the river behind us. So we stopped and watched them, and quickly saw that one of them had gotten his paddle lodged in between the rocks, so he got out of his kayak and crawled out onto the large rock and worked for sometime before finally getting his paddle unstuck. In the meantime, another one of the kayakers had gotten out of his kayak to go back to try and help this one. He thought he had secured his kayak, but alas he had not and suddenly it along with his paddle appeared, both floating down the river at a rapid rate of speed! By this time the other kayaker had gotten back into his kayak, and quickly made his way over the gushing cascades, where he went down and literally rounded up the runaway kayak, and then grabbed the paddle. By this time, we were obviously all worked up from this amazing event!

kayaking in the smokies
Retrieving the paddle . . .
kayaking in the smokies
Uh-Oh! Runaway kayak!
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The kayak round-up!

So we continued our drive back, and suddenly we saw a shadow go over the road. I happened to look back and saw a large Barred Owl land in a nearby tree. “There he is,” I shouted, so we stopped and I quietly rolled down my window and took several nice photos before he flew a short distance and landed at the base of the waterfall. “This day is getting more amazing by the minute”, I said as we watched and waited to see what he was going to do next. Shortly thereafter, he flew up onto another tree limb nearby, where he commenced to preen. It was such an incredibly beautiful experience watching the owl fly silently about, in that winter wonderland setting. Once again I felt tremendously blessed! By that time it was starting to get later in the day so we enjoyed the rest of the drive making our way back home. That evening we enjoyed having friends, Sammie, Fred and Barb over for my homemade baked ziti, and applesauce cake. Afterwards we played Mexican Train Dominoes, and I must admit that we all did more laughing than anything else!

barred owl in the snow
Who’s there . . .
biking in the smokies
Oh yea! . . . another thing to add to my bucket list! . . . biking in the snow!
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Fred was a bit on the cold side when our automatic thermostat turned down the heat for the evening . . . ha ha!

There was still snow the next morning with sunshine and blue skies above to boot! So after lunch, off we went, back into Tremont. We enjoyed an amazing hike up Middle Prong Trail, still bathed in white and glistening like diamonds in the sun. Every turn in the path offered up yet another amazing and gorgeous view, and all that could be heard was the squeak . . . squeak of the snow beneath our feet and the word “Wow!” coming from our lips! The numerous cascades along the walk were surrounded by white making them appear ever so stunning. Being a wet snow, it clung to every leaf on the evergreens and every branch of the trees, and looked like a postcard, something that just couldn’t be real! Needless to say, we had a royal time, just taking it all in and getting lots of photos along the way.

rachelle siegrist throwing a snowball
Get ready . . . here it comes!
rachelle siegrist throwing a snowball II
What . . . it looks like I’m hitting myself . . . ha ha!
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Jeanie and I stand by a beautiful snow covered Hemlock Tree

From there we drove into Cades Cove and as soon as we entered the one-way loop road, were met by fields filled with horses, White-tailed Deer and turkey, all together, as if it were some kind of a natural zoo! It was so beautiful and peaceful as we drove along, enjoying the winter setting. By the time we had made it around the entire cove, we decide we must have seen at least eighty deer or more! At one point, there were several turkeys forging quite close to the van. So we slowly pulled off and sat for a few minutes just watching and photographing them. They were totally oblivious to us and I stated this was my favorite kind of turkey on Thanksgiving, one that is alive and well, and happily eating in the woods! We got home later that evening, where we enjoyed the leftover ziti from the evening before.

white tailed deer in cades cove
Why jump the fence when it’s easier to just walk through it!
turkey in cades cove in the snow
My idea of happy Thanksgiving turkeys

Friday, we spent another wonderful day in the woods, while hiking to the Walker Sister’s cabin. Most of the snow had melted away along the trail by this point, so we weren’t quite sure if there would be any left by the old cabin or not. Well, much to our delight, there was still quite a bit of snow remaining by the cabin, and it was beautiful as we rounded the corner in the road, and saw the ground covered in white! After looking around a bit, I decided we needed to build a snowman, so I started gathering snow and rolling it around until it became a large ball. This became the base, to which we added another good-sized ball, and was topped with a smaller ball. Next we added eyes, a nice smile and an old small piece of wood for the nose. Arms were added and after placing Jeanie’s hat and scarf on it, we saw that it was such a pretty snow person that it indeed had to be a snow lady! So she was given mittens and hiking sticks and looked like she was ready for a lovely walk in the woods. We took several photos with and of her, and then decided it was time to tell our snowy friend good-bye. So we waved to her as we walked down the snow covered path and started our journey back. That evening we enjoyed delicious homemade soup, given to us by our dear friend Sammie, which was a wonderful treat!

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Us with our snow friend behind the Walker Sister’s cabin
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Isn’t she lovely!
walker sisters cabin in the snow
The Walker Sister’s cabin surrounded by snow

We all decided that it had been a delightful week and that we had been truly blessed with some beautiful experiences. We said good-bye to Wes’ parents yesterday morning, and began catching up on different jobs and work. Wes has been packing up paintings for several different shows this afternoon, and we’re hoping to get back to painting in the next couple of days!

To view all our upcoming exhibits:

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Until next time ~ Rachelle

A Hike To Indian Flats Falls and a New Miniature Painting

tremont in the smokies
A trail sign along the Middle Prong trail in Tremont

The highlight of this past week for me, was a hike along with friends, Fred and Pat, to Indian Flats Falls in the nearby Tremont area, here in the Smokies. It was a gorgeous fall-like day when the four of us left early last Tuesday morning, heading for our destination, the Middle Prong Trailhead in the Tremont area. With packs mounted and walking sticks in hand, we started up the beautiful lush trail. The water in the stream adjacent to the trail was running full steam ahead, with all of the recent rainfall, creating a melodious and relaxing symphony of nature in the background! I noticed right away that there were incredible amounts of thick, lush piles of moss just begging to be “petted”. And so I did . . . several times over, while getting my friend Pat to also join in on this fun pastime of mine!

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A beautiful Indian Pipe along the trail
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The interesting wildflower,  Doll’s Eyes, which are actually berries.
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A fallen tree covered by beautiful orange Fungus

Middle Prong is dotted all along with beautiful cascades in the stream following alongside the trail, as well as numerous large rock formations and walls, and a few remaining artifacts from the days when this stunning area was unfortunately timbered. One such memory from a past era, is an old rusty car body, which I just had to “test drive” for a few minutes. And yes . . . I checked for snakes first! Walking along, we started hearing this high-pitched chirping noise and of course started looking up into the trees. We soon realized that alas it wasn’t a hawk or other type bird, but two precious baby otters! Oh Wow . . . I exclaimed as I saw these two adorable little critters sliding over rocks, climbing out onto the moss covered shore, and jumping back into the water before swimming a ways and then sliding over more rocks. Obviously they were having the time of their lives as they went along playing and frolicking the water! What a treat, I thought, as we had never seen baby otters in the Park before.

middle prong trail in the smoky mountain national park
My “new” old car I found along the way
middle prong trail in the smoky mountain national park
A stunning section in the stream along the trail
middle prong trail in the smoky mountain national park
Wes and I in front of a really cool rock formation!

Before long we had worked up an appetite, and decided it was lunchtime. So Fred suggested a small meadow-like clearing in the trail up ahead, which once served as the old C.C.C. camp many years ago. As we all sat there in a relaxed state, enjoying the amazing weather and beautiful location, I said this looks like a perfect place for a deer. Unbelievably, a few minutes later a beautiful doe walked through a small clearing nearby before going back into the deeper woods! This day just kept getting better I thought! With tummies full, we continued our journey to the falls. Sometime later we found the small cutoff, which leads to the falls, and made our way along the narrow trail. The falls were gorgeous and within seconds I was in the water, which was very, very cold!!! Nonetheless, being the water baby that I am, I could not resist, and so had to walk around in the pool at the base of the falls and play for a while. Unfortunately I had to play alone, as I couldn’t convince the other three wimps to get into the cold water. There were still several Rose Bay Rhododendrons blooming by the falls, which made for a nice photo opportunity. Having enjoyed the falls for quite sometime, we started our journey back. We reached the trailhead later that afternoon, having enjoyed a gorgeous day and waterfall, and making another wonderful memory!

middle prong trail in the smoky mountain national park
Me, Wes, Pat and Fred in front of Indian Flats Falls
middle prong trail in the smoky mountain national park
LOL . . . the effects of the COLD water are visible on my “trying to smile” face!!
middle prong trail in the smoky mountain national park
Indian Flats surrounded by Rhododendrons

Although we’ve spent a lot of time painting this past week, my “hillbilly hot tub” continues to be a source of joy and relaxation almost daily for me. Wes and I also have taken our daily walks and bike rides, doing so earlier in the morning, before it gets too warm or rain comes. We also enjoyed several fun evenings with friends this past week. Dominoes at our house one evening, with another celebrating our friend Darlene’s birthday, while eating at our favorite restaurant Lemon Grass, along with her husband Bill and friends Fred and Barb. Afterwards, we enjoyed Darlene’s delicious homemade coconut cake and ice cream at their house. Last evening we met our artist friend, Kit and his parents, at a local restaurant called Firefly Cafe here in Townsend. The food was delicious, the service very good, and it is nicely decorated inside. It was a real treat to meet Kit’s parents for the first time, as they are such sweet people and love to laugh, while telling great stories about vacations spent in Hawaii! After supper, they joined us at our place where we had ice cream on the screen porch, as we shared more stories and watched nightfall descend on us.

middle prong trail in the smoky mountain national park
Wes practices his Karate kid stance by a cascade
middle prong trail in the smoky mountain national park
Hugging a dear old friend!
middle prong trail in the smoky mountain national park
A spectacular collection of Shelf Fungus grows on an old log

Fresh off the easel ~ Wes finished a painting this past week of two chickens sharing a dust bath.  I finished a commission which I have been working on.  I’m currently painting on the landscape featuring a spectacular view in Yosemite Valley.

chicken painting
“Spa Sisters” by Wes

~ Opening this week: Our Solo Touring Exhibition, EXQUISITE MINIATURES!

Saturday, August 10, 2013 – Sunday, January 5, 2014

KENOSHA PUBLIC MUSEUM, 5400 First Avenue; Kenosha, WI, 53140
(262) 653-4140


A public reception will be held on Friday, the 18th of October from 6-8PM. (We will be leading a Gallery Walk that night to discuss our paintings in the exhibition) Also scheduled will be an adult painting workshop with us from 9AM to Noon on the 19th followed by a formal presentation by Wes on miniature art at @2PM. To register for the workshop please call Nancy Mathews at the museum at 262-653-4140.


To view all our upcoming exhibits:


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

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Until next time ~ Rachelle