Fun In The Woods With Wes’ Parents

Walking in the Woods!!!

by Rachelle Siegrist

cades cove cabins wes siegrist
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!

cades cove barn
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.

hiking the gatlinburg trail
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!

gatlinburg trail
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.

rachelle siegrist gatlinburg trail
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

turkey in Cades Cove january.jpg

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!

photographing deer in Cades Cove - 1

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!

lab dog painting in progress by rachelle siegrist - 1.jpg
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

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!
extreme kayaking
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!
wes siegrist
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!
hiking  in the smokies
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!

walker sister's cabin
Us with our snow friend behind the Walker Sister’s cabin
snowman in the smokies
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!

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Until next time ~ Rachelle