Fun In The Woods With Wes’ Parents

Walking in the Woods!!!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Wes and his parents by the Lawson Barn in Cades Cove

Wes’ parents arrived at our home here in the Smokies this past Wednesday and we have been on the go ever since!  We enjoyed a picnic in Cades Cove and riding around the loop road, while counting turkey and deer the first evening.  It was a beautiful one too, complete with a gorgeous sunset over the mountains!

turkey in cades cove
A couple of resident turkey in the cove

No matter how many times we visit Cades Cove, it’s always a joy and inspiring as an artist, as we love painting the historic barns and home places located there, as well as the numerous gorgeous vistas, scenes and resident wildlife!

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The Lawson Barn in Cades Cove

The next day we headed over to Roaring Fork near Gatlinburg, but recent high winds in our area combined with the wildfires last year, had caused numerous trees to fall, therefore temporarily closing the loop drive.  So after visiting one accessible log cabin and barn, we decided to hike the Gatlinburg Trail.  Following alongside the river, it’s always a pleasant relaxing walk, and was gorgeous, dressed in lush green foliage.

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Wes’ parents and me on one of the bridges

Numerous Mountain Laurel were blooming showcasing their delicate light pink flowers dotted throughout the woods, adding even more beauty!

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Jeanie and George by one of the Mountain Laurel

Of course if there’s water around and it’s not frozen I usually get in . . . most of the time!  I just couldn’t resist the stunningly clear water, and after my legs went numb, it didn’t feel too bad . . . Ha Ha!  Sadly I couldn’t convince any of the others to play in the water with me though.

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Brrrrrr . . .  so refreshing!!!

Yesterday was spent at the 27th Wilderness Wildlife Week event held in Pigeon Forge.  What a fun and interesting day it was as we attended several different lectures and presentations, including a hammered dulcimer concert, as well as an old fashioned harp note singing!  We really enjoyed “The People of Cades Cove” presentation and were thrilled to hear stories about life in the cove from about a dozen people who were actually born inside the cove! I learned that “When you can step on your head, it’s 12 noon”, in other words being able to step on the shadow of your head.  Another person told about living in the cove after it became a National Park, that it was like the goldfish bowl effect, as people were always watching them and asking questions, mostly kind of ridiculous ones.  One tourist asked the cove resident if he realized there was a deer pasturing with his cattle, to which his father quickly replied, “Why yes I do . . . I milk her along with the cows!” (They had a Jersey Cow among their Herefords) I found this a brilliant answer to a silly question!  Another highlight was the presentation “What is it?” where the audience was shown objects found in the cove and we were to guess what they were, and I was thrilled to have guessed one correctly!  I also learned of a few more awesome places to camp, kayak and hike!  Needless to say, we came away more knowledgable in so many ways!


What a better way to cook a gourmet Mother’s Day lunch than over an open fire, so we did just that, and it was delicious! I want to wish all of you special Moms out there a very Happy Mothers Day, especially to my own amazing Mom who has loved, prayed for and taken care of our family in tremendous ways throughout the years, and to my special Mother-n-law Jeanie!

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Happy Mother’s Day to my most precious Mom, whom I love SO very much!!!

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

I finished my latest dog commission this past week featuring a mule seat full of joy and love!!  I had so much fun painting this adorable bundle of fur and told their mommy I would love to sit on that seat and hold them all in my lap! You can’t help but smile when looking at this fun painting!

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My “A Mule Full!”

Wes finished his landscape painting of the John Oliver cabin in Cades Cove this past week, as viewed from a seldom seen angle.  We never tire of seeing, hiking to and painting these great historical beauties and national treasures!

“A Cabin in the Woods” by Wes

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle


Visiting the Pearl Harbor Tree in Cades Cove

Searching for the Pearl Harbor Tree in Cades Cove

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Last Tuesday was a gloriously beautiful day, one of those that seems picture perfect, albeit a cold one!  So Wes and I decided to take a day off from working in the studio and spend it in nearby Cades Cove.  As we started around the 11-mile loop road, the first amazing sight was turkeys, lots and lots of them! While still relishing in the turkey sighting, we came up on several White-Tailed Deer, which were mostly big bucks!  “Wow . . . this day is starting off amazing!”  I thought to myself as I was photographing them.

It doesn’t matter that the park has posted signs warning visitors to remain at least 50 yards from all wildlife, there is almost always someone who just has to have that “Nose hair” shot, and such was the case the other morning, with these men who were out near the bucks, then suddenly found themselves surrounded by them. Hopefully that nose hair shot came out in perfect focus, and the bucks didn’t see them as competition!

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After watching and photographing them for a little while, we ventured on to see what was around the next bend in the road. Well, you guessed it . . . more turkey and deer!  By the end of the day we had counted around 75 deer or more!  Soon it was lunchtime, so we found a perfect spot for our picnic.  Thankfully the sun was shining, as it kept us from totally freezing up when the cold, crisp breeze blew!

rachelle siegrist picnicing in Cades Cove

Sitting under crystal clear blue skies, while enjoying the amazing view, this song came to mind . . . “I’m just sittin’ on top of the world, looking out over creation, and the only explanation I can find . . .” was obvious,  we had simply taken the time to come and enjoy it all!  Then and there I decided that this restaurant truly had a grand view!  After suiting up, we started trouncing through the woods, searching for what we had come to find and see, the Pearl Harbor Tree.

rachelle siegrist with pearl harbor tree in Cades Cove

On what was once the property where Golman Myers’ homestead stood, there stands a beautiful tree, straight and tall.  After learning of the attack on Pearl Harbor via his little battery powered radio, Golman, who had two sons of draft age, went and pulled up a young sapling and planted it in the front yard.  He placed an old metal tire rim around it to protect it from the mower, and told his sons “We will remember this day forever!” and he couldn’t have been more right.  His two sons did leave to fight overseas, and although they both survived and returned home, sadly their dad died of a heart attack working on the farm in April 1945, as times were very hard.

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This tree stands as a living reminder of the past, with the words “Pearl Harbor” inscribed on the back of the tag, and the metal ring still around the bottom, showing that the folks living in Cades Cove were certainly not out of touch with what was going on in the world outside their cove nestled in the mountains.  Leaving the special tree, we drove a short distance and decided to hike up along the trail which leads from the trailhead to Abrams Falls to the back of the cantilever barn near the visitor center.  There were sections along the river’s edge where the frigid temps had frozen the moisture in the ground, forcing it up, thus creating what I call “ice spurts”, which are absolutely stunning in the sunlight!

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We walked along the river’s edge quite sometime before reaching the barn.  Once there, we decided to walk back through the open fields while heading back towards the Abrams Falls trailhead.  It was absolutely beautiful, and much of the time it felt as if we were the only ones in the cove, a glorious feeling indeed!

rachelle siegrist hiking in Cades Cove

Sections of the fields were full of birds, mainly Song Sparrows and their chirping and singing was truly nature in surround sound!  Leaving there we went and parked along Hyatt Lane, and later Sparks Lane, where we once again enjoyed walking in the vast sun drenched fields under clear azure blue skies.  It’s places like this, that time somehow seems to stand still for a few moments, allowing you to just soak it all in, in all of it’s glory!


~ Currently On the Easel ~

I’m just starting on one of my latest paintings of a beautiful Chocolate Lab, which I plan to have done in time for the upcoming SEWE show in Charleston, SC.  I’m also currently painting on a landscape with a cow for another upcoming show, as well as a commission of a handsome Spinone Italiano dog, named Splash.  It’s coming along great and I’ll be anxious to share it with you when it’s done!

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My Labrador retriever Painting in progress

Wes has been working numerous hours lately while redoing our website to make it mobile friendly.  The new site has a simple, clean, more modern appearance and will be much easier for you to enjoy, while exploring it and see our latest works and upcoming shows and events.  I will certainly let you know when it’s all done and ready!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle