adventure, bliss, bridge, campfire, campground, camping, children, Deby Dixon Photography, forest, gratitude, Half Dome, memories, Merced River, national parks traveler, nature, nature photography, night, night photography, outdoors, photography, pines firs cedars, sissy husbands, tourism, travel, trees, vacation, writing, Yosemite National Park
The campfire shouted heat into the cold Sierra evening and I pulled my camp chair up close, allowing my body to warm and my mind to wander into the flames.
Thoughts of freedom and choices flooded me and suddenly I felt like the luckiest wanderer/photographer/writer/human that I knew. To be able to spend three months amongst the tall pines, firs, cedars and even a sequoia, listening to the creatures and breathing the fresh mountain air is one thing, but to have the good fortune of my trailer and utilities – well, bliss comes to mind.
A group of young people in a camp site behind me were having troubles getting their own fire going with the wet and green wood and they kept looking over at mine. I want to help them but tell myself that their fire woes are theirs and not mine and so continue to luxuriate in my bliss just a little while longer. Until I can no longer stand their furtive glances…the fire was also meant to be their cook stove for their ethnic foods that consisted of meat and vegetable kabobs, which, by the way, had smelled good earlier in the day. I load my arms up with dried sticks and twigs and take the pile over, showing them what would burn best. Earlier in the day they had attempted to blow up their mattress using my bicycle pump.
I am good at camping, having done it for a life time, except in the years when I didn’t. When injuries, illness or sissy husbands who didn’t sleep on the ground interfered with my passion for the out of doors. It was only one husband who was a sissy. During the intervening years I remembered the gourmet meals cooked over the campfires, the quiet solitude, the laughter of my children, the hiking in the forest and the animals. Most of all the s’mores. I remembered the s’mores and would sometimes make them grandpa style – in the microwave for thirty seconds, before the marshmallow exploded, leaving a sticky mess.
My first husband, my sons’ father, taught me everything that I still know about camping today, 30 odd years later. He also taught me about fishing. Over the years I’ve prided myself on those one match, one light, campfires, the proper soap, how to pitch a tent and how to eat like queens and kings in the forest.
With in a month after leaving husband number three (that was 18 years ago) I bought a Jeep Cherokee, a German Shepherd, and the tent, sleeping bag, pad, etc., that I still have today. And went camping and fishing in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. Finally then, I was back to myself. When my sons, David and Brandon, came to visit we loaded down that Jeep with camping gear and mountain bikes and went camping out west of Cherokee. I took along books about the ghost stories of the Blue Ridge and the kids, and others that they met, stayed up around the campfire the entire night, reading those stories. I remember that trip as one of the best I’ve ever taken, even though David called me a sissy when I walked the bicycle up hills. Hey, by that time I’d already proven my toughness and decided there was nothing more to prove.
I walked around the campground and checked on some new arrivals before sitting back down at my fire. One of the young ladies from “next door,” brought me a plate of different meats and grilled asparagus on skewers and asked me to please have it. That food lit up my eyes but I felt awkward also. I knew that it would be considered rude to turn down her kindness and so gratefully accepted the plate and sat down at the fire to eat. Each bite brought groans of pleasure. Some people know how to eat!
People come and go so quickly. I become a little attached and they are gone. There was the family from Wyoming – the woman’s best friend is the mom of a photographer I met in the Tetons last year. The three men from Canada with their sexy Canadian accents and questions about things to do. The group who were looking for a wedding spot, the quiet couple who stayed for a week in their camper…the list is already growing long. Last night I simply called for the weather report to appease fears of RV pipes freezing for a German couple and their daughter, who was in a second RV. Later they brought me a delicious chocolate bar that came all of the way from Germany! I am just being nice, trying to add to their experience….
And there was the Lewis family. A particular delight. A family of four in a small, hard-sided tent shaped pop-up. They had their share of learning experiences – no water, dead battery, etc., and I was able to help them some. I watched them go from being over-whelmed to staying an extra night and having their first campfire, which was one that anyone would be proud to make. They left this morning and promised to be back in June. Those are the kinds of stories that I love – the type where people overcome, conquer and then come to love being in the out of doors and want to come back. Because we all own a slice of this thing called nature and all owe it to ourselves to enjoy it – and mostly to become good stewards for its continued survival.
Until a minute ago the campground was empty, except for myself. Another family just arrived and are camping close by.
During some of the nights I have stolen away into the valley for some evening and night photography.
I hope that you are able to derive some joy and excitement over my stay in Yosemite National Park, and that you too will want to visit someday.
Daryl L Hunter said:
Sounds like things are looking up for you – great photos 😀
Jill Clardy said:
What a wonderful experience you’re having; able to make a difference for others, even if just for a day or as long as it takes to get a campfire going; and the rest of the time you can explore and photograph the most beloved of all National Parks ! I’m officially jealous 🙂
Lowell Simonsen said:
Wonderful and fabulous photos. The clarity of your experiences is inspiring. It sounds and looks like you are at peace with nature and yourself. Kudos to you and your writing of your experiences.
Sure beats the motel in O.S.! Your experiences will be with you the rest of your life…so glad you took that first step.
Jolandi Steven said:
I just love the awe-inspiring beauty of nature you capture so well in your photographs. America has never been on my list of countries to visit, but you manage to ignite my curiosity with your wonderful experiences in the national parks. Maybe one day… Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly your thoughts and artistic talent. I enjoy traveling with you.
Debbie, it sounds like you are having an enjoyable time. There is something about a campfire that just does something for the sole. Some years due to drought the forest service restricts campfires. When they do that I’m done camping. I hope your not having to buy your firewood at typical campground prices.
I am hoping to make it to Yosemite sometime early in June. This would be my third visit.
Albert Wengerd said:
Outstanding photos and outstanding writing! You are doing what many people would love to be doing and that includes me. I hope the camera problems will soon behind you. I hope you will get a chance to explore some of the high country.
Albert Lecourt said:
You are enjoying nature and having some quiet enjoyment Deby. I enjoyed this post very much.
Chuck McCarty said:
Gary Fern said:
Great to hear all the positives that are happening to you now Deby. It is amzing how if we persevere (which you have) so much turns out for the better. All of the images are fantastic! I’ve got my favorites as I am sure others have, and would love to see a blog sometime of you thoughts while you were taking them and the photgraphic process you used. I’m sure this was not all ‘hit and miss’. DId you bracket? How did you determine your first exposure to get a starting point? I am envious of our photgraphic skills and your situation. Someday……………………… Keep up the good work!
Deby Dixon said:
Hi Gary, thanks for asking about my process. I began detailing my experiences and thoughts in a new post and will try and follow it up with more.
shirleen mitchell said:
Deby i am so glad to see you really enjoying yourself!! How is the camera thing going? you finally got me, i want to buy a copy of the falls and stars at night! let me know Shirleen
Deby Dixon said:
Shirleen, I’ll get with you soon. Fighting the weather today so need to get back soon.
thank you so much for sharing your adventure.. your photos are absolutely stunning. I look forward to your next post.
Andrew Countryman said:
So glad you are having a good time. Sat internet would be nice. Great photo’s.
Chuck McCarty said:
Deby, It was so good to hear from you this evening. You should get my letters over the next few days. I was happy to receive your email. your work is awesome and your talent is incredible. I would also like to buy some of the photos, so i could frame them and put them on our ” wall of fame “. i didn’t get a chanch to show you that when you were here. Sorry about the cameras. Mine too. Maybe we should go to Canon. At the Arizona Highways shoot, the guides had Canons. They said Canon invents, and Nikon follows. I’ll talk to you later
Deby Dixon said:
No, no Canons in my house!
susan matera said:
so my BEAUTIFUL friend….instead of me telling camping stories…i am sitting here..reading yours like a little kid, a huge smile on my face. i felt like i was sitting by the fire tonight with you. thank you for this. you always make me smile, and i long to read more of your thoughts all the time. i “see” you smiling as you talk. so good to hear from you. the moonbow at upper yosemite falls…took my breath away. I LOVE IT! sending you hugs (( )) xo …be well until the next story. 🙂
Mark Mendonck said:
Especially the two last photo’s are just amazing!