- Ted & Debbie (Photographers)
As we manuver around curves in the roads visited only once a year we pull into our campsite that at this point seems like home. Everyone knows what to bring and where to set up their tents. Some faces are missing because of lifes responsibilities. I’m feeling those commitments and pressures even more this year but know this trip is important. I don’t know what else to say, but there’s a feeling when the wind blows through our campsite and everyone who is busying themselves with backgammon, bow and arrow making, tidying up, playing music, or relaxing, and we all look at the trees together and feel happy.
It’s been said that when you take photographs at an event you miss the actual life experience of what is going on around you. Sometimes this is true with school plays, sporting events, and even jobs that I’m shooting. I loose track of the score, the plot and what shot we are on. My little world becomes what is going on in the viewfinder and tune whatever is around me out.
The other day while camping in Sequoia we were getting ready to eat Sam’s birthday cake around a large redwood picnic table. We called everyone who was at the campsite to gather around. Some people were out mountain biking, hiking, or soaking in a hot tub. While Debbie was putting 18 candles on the cake people were making jokes about Sam being all grown up, going off to Iowa for college and voting. I had my camera out and was setting up “the shot” of the cake and trying to find the best background. I looked over to my side and saw Sam watching the action and taking it all in. Simon walked up to Sam leaned on him and held his hand very tight. I knelt down and shot a few frames and returned to the cake. When everyone was singing and Sam was blowing out the candles that the wind didn’t already blow out I knew I had the best present I could ever want- Those few frames of my littlest boy and my young man.
As we get ready our camping gear to make our annual journey to Sequoia I just realized there wasn’t a posting from last years trip. That’s not to say the event wasn’t documented nor exciting. There was Dave’s giant fires, rolling a giant log into our campsite, ukuleles galore, birthdays, haircuts,U.B.S- unconfirmed bear sightings, paella night, 6″ of snow, a speeding ticket (me) and culminated with stitches at an emergency room in Bakersfield, that would be Ollie.
Back to packing…Thank the gods we have a paramedic with us again this year.
When we first started going to Sequoia we heard about a small grouping of redwood trees near our campsite. It was called the remote Cunningham Grove.Â A remote grove of ancient trees. The lure was obvious. Upon our first quest for the lost grove we stumbled upon a cold stream ending in a small waterfall. The kids stripped down naked and began wading and sliding down the falls.
We would search for the “lost redwoods” every year with no luck. In 2006, we eventually found the remote Cunningham GroveÂ on a hike that included a good map, a lot of bush whacking and a rattlesnake sighting. It was an amazing experience seeing, climbing, forming a ring around and touching the most ancient trees on this planet. There was something majestic yet sad about this lonely grouping of redwoods. Some were damaged by fire and I imagined one of them being struck by lightning and catching on fire, scarred for eternity. Some gave the impression they were so old they just couldn’t grow anymore.
Every year we do the waterfall hike. Every year we get to this now familiar destination and start exploring in our own way. Theo launches logs down the falls, we all yell at Theo to stop throwing logs down the falls, the little ones start slipping on the rocks, some of us ride down the falls on our butts. I kick off my boots, take off my shirt and lay down on the warm rocks while cold water covers my head. It’s refreshing. I’m looking at our group from sea level out of the corner of my eye. Water is the only sound I hear. Everyone is taller then me. I become lost in the thought of finding our past once again.
You could tell it has been one of those years for nearly everyone. Dragging ourselves out of the cities we’ve embedded ourselves in is hard. Back at home we have 4 different alarm clocks. One might think that this isn’t unusual for a family of 7 to have 4 different alarms. The thing is we all sleep in the same room. We tend to (or try to) ignore the alarm which isn’t ours. First, my cell phone alarm goes off followed by Debbie’s Kloss clock radio. Henry uses a timer which makes a different tone practically Â every morning. His alarm is usually synchronized with some kind of sporting event occurring somewhere in the world. Sam uses his cell phone which makes a horrific screeching sound. It sounds a little like The Emergency Broadcast System schreech. Luckily it goes off after everyone is already up. He tends to ignore the sound and lets it screech on and on. So it’s nice when there are no alarms, no car sounds, no sounds of the city to wake up to. In our campsite, in my tent I’m sharing with Ollie I wake up to birds chirping and the Â sound of the wind blowing through the trees.
After a breakfast of pancakes and sausages our day begins. There’s talk of rock climbing, setting up zip lines across the meadow or hiking to the Pinnacles but none of these activities materialize. What happens is nothing. A nice sort of nothing. Hanging in the hammock, Wendy giving haircuts, Dave playing his guitar, and the kids all looking at Emma’s Midlands yearbook.