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

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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!

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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


A Wonderful Visit With Family!

“As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.”
~ Buddha

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Me with my Mom and Dad in Cades Cove

We enjoyed a wonderful visit with my Mom, Dad and sister Hayley this past week, while they were visiting from FL. Unfortunately for them however, it was much hotter here much of the time than it was in FL, due to the freakish “heat storm” that we had. While we were in Knoxville last Sunday,  visiting the Knoxville Museum of Art, the temps reached 106 degrees! That kind of heat is completely unreal and record setting for this area, and it felt like we were walking across Death Valley instead of the museum parking lot! Nonetheless, we really enjoyed our visit there, especially getting to see the Thorne Rooms, which are beautiful miniature rooms filled with miniature scaled furniture from different themed time periods. After a visit to my favorite used book and CD store afterwards, we enjoyed a nice meal at a local Mexican restaurant for supper that evening, before returning to Townsend.

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106 on our back deck!!!  It doesn’t seem possible, but it happened!

Tuesday afternoon was spent walking around Elkmont, where it felt as if we were traveling back in time while walking through the various old cabins that still remain there. A former logging camp, Elkmont became a vacation destination in the early 1900s before the Smoky Mountain National Park was established. If only walls could talk, I’m sure that the walls of these old cabins could really tell some stories! One refurbished home is beautifully situated on the river, where we enjoyed sitting and relaxing on their adjacent old stone patio. I simply had to wade in the water for a while, and even though it was ice cold, it felt amazing after the intense heat of the day before! The only other brave soul that afternoon was my mom, whom I convinced to at least wade in ankle deep. That evening we enjoyed a nice dinner at “Chez Rachelle’s”, our place, which consisted of Tilapia meuniere, smashed sweet and white potatoes with garlic, and sautéed yellow squash, zucchini and onions with fresh oregano. For dessert, we enjoyed my homemade “Heavenly banana pudding”.

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A picturesque spot in Cades Cove

Early Wednesday morning, my parents, Wes and I headed into Cades Cove in hopes of securing a table in the picnic area before walking around part of the loop road. Well, everyone else obviously had the same idea, and we ended up parking in the maintenance area in the campground. We at least came up with the idea of walking the loop backwards, and it wasn’t nearly as crowded that way. We saw several deer, turkeys, and heard of a sighting of four bears nearby. We walked out into one of the open fields to a grouping of very large old trees, which had several old grave sites underneath them. While there, Wes spotted a Bluebird nest locate down inside of an old log fence post, which was really neat to see! From there we wandered further out into the field to the next grouping of trees, before reaching an area which was filled with Blackberry bushes covered with berries, with many of them being ripe. Needless to say, we had to spend a bit of time there, having a little berry snack, which was quite tasty before heading back to the loop road. Hundreds of Queens Anne’s lace blossoms filled the surrounding fields, making it quite a picturesque setting indeed! The shade covering the road was a welcomed relief as we walked an hour or so back to where we had started earlier that morning. Since the picnic area was overflowing, we drove to nearby Tremont, where we found a quiet and lovely spot along the river and enjoyed eating our picnic lunch there.

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A beautiful Bluebird nest in an old log fence post!

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One of the fields of Queen Anne’s Lace in Cades Cove

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A close up of a Queen Anne’s Lace blossom

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My Dad and I enjoying our picnic lunch by the river

That afternoon we returned back to the Tremont area, where we found a lovely spot along the river, to enjoy all to ourselves. With a couple of tubes in hand, Hayley and I headed down to the river to float for a while. If you can survive that first shock, when the extremely cold water hits you, the parts in the water will go numb and it will feel delightful! So in we went, and after a few shouts, all was well. So there we were just relaxing and floating, enjoying the best of both worlds, the cold water and the warmth of the sun, making for an ideal situation! After a bit, Hayley decided to get out, and so I convinced my Dad that it was indeed a wonderful thing to do and would feel so refreshing, so in he came. We enjoyed floating about for quite sometime and would occasionally enjoy spinning, where we would paddle with our hands as quickly as we could, causing ourselves to spin in circles while watching the trees go round and round above. Nothing seems more relaxing on a warm summer afternoon, then to float slowly in a mountain stream, while listening to the sounds of small waterfalls cascading down the rocks and looking at the beauty of the mountains surrounding you! It simply was the best, and we enjoyed it greatly for a couple of hours before returning home for my baked Ziti and homemade chocolate butter walnut ice cream . . . yummy!!! That night we all walked down to the base of the mountain, where we spread out blankets on the grassy hillside and enjoyed a beautiful firework display put on by the city of Townsend and the Highland Manor Inn hotel. It was gorgeous to watch as the fireworks exploded into a variety of colors while listening to the perfectly chosen music. There was one firework in particular, which greatly resembled a Queen Anne’s Lace blossom each time it would explode and fill the air above, and the sounds of “Ah” from observers would fill the air. Before we knew it, the show had come to an end, and Wes and I decided it was one of the best displays ever.

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Hayley and I tubing while my parents enjoy just sitting and relaxing

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Dad and I laughing about something while floating around

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Hayley and I with a lovely cascade behind us

Thursday, my parents took us to our favorite restaurant, Lemon Grass, for lunch to celebrate our 22nd Wedding Anniversary, which was actually yesterday. It was delicious as always and we made another wonderful memory! That evening we met a couple of friends down at our local Subway for supper, before we were planning to attend a concert later on. We had been there for about half an hour, when all of a sudden it started pouring down rain and the winds were blowing and gusting unbelievably! It looked like a hurricane outside and unlike any storm we had ever seen here in Townsend! The winds were in excess of 70 mph, and were blowing trees over and things around. Within minutes the power was out, and as we all sat watching and talking, we counted over fifteen rescue vehicles and ambulances go by outside. We would later find out that a couple of our dear neighbor friends had been hurt during this storm, as well as many others injured and even a couple of people were killed. The road into the Smokies was closed as they began rescuing people. after the storm had died down, we returned home and our friends came to join us for watermelon on the screen porch. We were without power all night, and some of our friends are still without power. It was an unbelievable night, and something I hope we never experience here again!
Friday we enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant and just relaxing here at the house. Saturday morning, we said our goodbyes and shared hugs, as it was already time for my family to leave, returning to FL, where it is probably cooler.  Once again, we made a lot of great memories while they were here!

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A beautiful Brown Water Snake that swam with us in the river for a time

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A gorgeous moth that Wes spotted along the river

~ Events and Exhibitions of Our Paintings This Week ~

EXQUISITE MINIATURES BY WES AND RACHELLE SIEGRIST at the Nevada State Museum, Carson City, NV (Fifty of our miniature paintings are on display and available for purchase!)

  Blossom II: Art of Flowers at the Greenacres Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH

8th Annual Heartland Art Guild Miniatures Art Show at the Miami County Historical Museum, Paola, KS

To view all our many exhibits:

~ Coming Soon! ~

the siegrists teaching at the Artistic Designs 2011 workshop 

We will be attending the opening reception for the 6th Annual Miniature Fine Art Show at Artistic Designs Gallery in Brownsburg, IN on July 13th.  At 7:30 that evening Wes will be giving a PowerPoint presentation on “The History and Challenges of Miniature Art” to the public.  The following day, Saturday the 14th, we will be teaching a workshop on miniature painting.  Please contact the gallery for information on joining us! (Photo courtesy of the Gallery from our 2011 Workshop)

 “Collect the future’s history today while it is still affordable.”

Until next time ~ Rachelle


One of my sweet Tufted Titmice peering into the dining room window, to see if I'm bringing more peanut crunchies.

        The weather this month is certainly starting off a lot different from last month’s! Wow . . . . has it been cold, with temperatures down in the low teens a couple of nights. It was nice and warm inside of our house though, with Wes keeping a wonderful fire in our beloved old wood stove, affectionately called “Ashley”. And boy, does it ever keep the house warm, spoiling us with temps in the upper 70’s, while it’s in the 20’s outside. I sure love Ashley! It’s supposed to be a bit milder this week for a couple of days and then more snowfall is on its way!

Tom Turkeys enjoying the peaceful setting in Cades Cove.

        Our feathered friends are certainly enjoying their feeders and the numerous peanut crunchie handouts, with my precious Peedeepeeps (Carolina Wren), now eating them out of my hand . . . .yippee! Our very, very fat squirrels are also enjoying the remnant seeds dropped from the feeders and the peanut crunchies. We have four squirrels that visit regularly, Chubby (quite appropriately named), Stubby, Bubba and Poser. Poser is the cutest by far as he really lives up to his name. He knows I am the peanut lady, so when he sees me in the dining room, he prances up and sits on the rocks directly outside the window and begins this series of poses he has. If one doesn’t seem to work, well then he tries another, usually with each successive pose becoming cuter than the last, while maintaining direct eye contact with me! He quickly melts my heart and you guessed it . . . here comes more peanut crunchies! This entire scene is too funny! Squirrels are so smart!

No room for swaying in this scenic spot along the Lumber Ridge Trail in the Smokies.

        This week on the easel:  I’m painting  a miniature piece of a Amur Leopard. This is the rarest of all Leopards. I photographed it at the Rolling Hills Wildlife Museum and Zoo, during our visit for the SAA show this past September. It has been quite fun to paint and I’m enjoying giving it my glowing, ethereal look. I hope to finish the miniature  this next week. Wes is currently painting a miniature of a beautiful resting quail, nestled in the pine straw, surrounded by the lovely Southern Georgia fauna. He photographed this pretty setting at Birdsong Nature Center in Thomasville, GA. As soon as we complete these two miniatures, there are numerous photos and experiences awaiting to be started next.

Until next time ~ Rachelle   🙂