In the Forest

We were going to go somewhere entirely new. We were headed for lakes, hills, cypress trees, forests & mountains in states that we haven’t really taken the time to explore yet. The weather had other ideas, and sent us west instead.

Into the West 2019, 1 Ondu Lincoln National Forest  (1 of 9).jpg

We were going to go somewhere new: and we did! Last year we drove through more than one National Forest, but not Lincoln. It may not have been a new state for the adults on the trip, but it was for the youngest member of the family; it was a place that may have taken on mythical proportions in her mind after hearing us talk about it for 12 months. It was a thrill to get to take her somewhere that had such a deep meaning for us.

Into the West 2019, 1 Ondu Lincoln National Forest  (4 of 9).jpg

None of us knew much about Cloudcroft, only that, according to the kind couple who spoke to me in a coffee line last summer, it was a wonderful place, worth visiting. I’ll say more about that another day. The town may have been our destination, but the forest turned out to be a happy home for us while we were there.

The moment we pulled into the campground we knew we wanted to stay there; the moment we got out of the truck was even more memorable: it was cool and smelled of pine! It was going to just be a spot for one night, but we ended up staying three, and it was hard to leave even then.

There’s something absolutely magical about camping in a forest. The view from our tent was amazing - but then again, the view from everywhere around it was amazing too. The sound of the wind in the pines was new for me: like the ocean, but more soothing; a whisper of comfort rather than the roar of destructive power. It was a wonderful place to just BE.

We sat and read, wrote, made drawings; my daughter got to roam around, gather firewood. Just the fact that we were able to have an actual campfire, and one that was welcome for the heat as well as atmosphere (and marshmallow roasting) was a huge bonus for us Texans who are used to constant burn bans (and hot weather). We were buzzed by hummingbirds, and awoken by a chorus of their song-singing cousins. One of the days we explored a waterfall formed by a natural spring; this included a hike to the source, through forest meadows graced by water flowing downhill in a little stream.

These are the things that embed themselves in your memory, build a relationship with the land, with time, with life as a whole.

We never know exactly where the road will lead us. The child that I was so many years ago never could have believed I would get to sleep in a forest; that’s the sort of thing that usually only exists in daydreams. I’m thankful that we got to live this experience together. The woman that I am now hopes that eventually we will be brought back to that place.

All photographs Ondu 6x6 pinhole camera and Kodak Tri-X