The Fedora Rides Shotgun

Painting from the Gage Hotel

“Mom, you’re so weird.”

I just returned from camping by myself in Big Bend National Park.

I had not been camping since 2009, and as I looked at what to do with a few days off in September, all I could think of was what it sounds like to wake up in a tent.

Fedora on headrest of car

The Fedora Rides Shotgun

There have been times in my life that I slept in a tent to drop the overall cost of a cross-country vacation. I moved from New Orleans to Seattle and eventually back to NOLA, and multiple times both direction I camped with my cat, Jenny, and my bird named Charlie. Then when my daughter was going to Girl Scout camp in the Davis Mountains, I took my tent and launched out to various places, like Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I don’t need to camp anymore, but I’ve found that I miss it. This is where I need to be really honest. I don’t camp in the haul-it-in-on-your-back way. No, thank you. It’s car camping, so I have a cot and a nice tent and a great camp stove.

Catherine saw my grocery list for the trip. “You’re bringing red snapper? Orzo? Normal people make easy stuff when they camp.”

Preparing steaks, new potatoes and asparagus for the grill

Steaks, new potatoes and asparagus for the grill

Yes, I like good food, and I enjoy cooking. I’ve learned that there are many delicious things I can make with a grill, some foil and a little ingenuity.

At the end of the day, what this is really, really about  — it’s seeing the stars, and hearing the breeze pull at the tent. It’s sitting with my coffee in the morning and watching the last stars fade out, the light grow until the sun peeks her head above the horizon.

Campsite

Fixing another cup of coffee

Big Bend National Park. It happens to be my personal park.

No, really. I have been many times, simply because it was the closest big western landscape to Houston. I can go and get my desert, big sky, big rock fix in less than a week — if I have to do so.

When I came here with Drew in 2010, it was before he was diagnosed with cancer. On the Lost Mine trail, there is a vista that opens up between the peaks in the Chisos mountains and the desert stretches out into the far distance. I told Drew that right there, that spot, behind the big rock we sat on as we enjoyed the view, that would be where to bring my ashes when I died. He looked at me and said, “it’s perfect. That’s what I want, too.”

We thought we would live to be . . . well, old. I promised to chase him around the breakfast table when we were eighty.

Life had other plans for us though, and we took them as gracefully as we could. We talked several times about where he wanted me to take his ashes when he died. He never wavered.

Drew on our rock, Lost Mine Trail, 2010

Drew on our rock, Lost Mine Trail, 2010

Wasn’t he a beautiful man? I did go spread his ashes in January of 2014. Several of his siblings were able to join me, and it was a very special pilgrimage.

View from the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend

The view from our rock

So now the fedora rides shotgun with me. This time, my trip was not about ashes and it was not about mourning. It was about feeling the Big Bend again and being very, very alive.


 

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Ann Fisher

18 Comments on The Fedora Rides Shotgun

  1. I love camping solo too. After reading this though, I’m sorry you had to this time. But you’re right, three nothing like being out under a million stars, endless skies, and the sounds of silence only wild and untamed places provide. I’ve camped my whole life, and there really is nothing like it. I do prefer roughing it, backcountry style though. By the way, I lived in NOLA as well. Is that where you’re from? Just curious. I’m sorry to hear about your husband by the way.

    Like

    • Hello, I thoroughly enjoyed the camping. I was out there for the Blood Moon — it was an amazing evening. I understand about the back country. Of course, there is nothing better. And to answer the question, I was born in Texas, but spent a big part of my childhood and teen years in New Orleans.

      Hope your next camping trip comes to you soon,

      Ann

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Dream Big, Dream Often and commented:
    I would like to introduce Ann Cavitt Fisher!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My first time on your blog and you made me cry. It was that moment when I scrolled down to the picture of the happy young man sitting on a rock.

    Since my husband Andy survived cancer three years ago, the subject of “after he is gone” comes up periodically. He asked me what would I do and my answer was to continue the same life we are both living now. That is living in a motorhome and traveling in the summers. After reading this post, I am thinking that, after the initial grieving, it would be comforting to visit the spot where the ashes are scattered, and to be in a place you both loved

    Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    • Hi Dinata,
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful post. It makes me very happy whenever I hear about a good cancer ending, and it’s so wonderful that your Andy is there with you. I do think about Drew, frequently, but I am no longer sad. In many ways, he has simply become part of me.

      One thing I have considered doing, perhaps after my daughter finishes college, is trying the full-time motorhome adventure — like you and Andy are doing. I look forward to reading through your blog.

      Ann

      Like

  4. An amazing post and journey into your life, thank you for sharing. K

    Like

  5. I’ve never been camping alone. I would love that, I am surrounded by people and noise all day, even at home. I love that the Fedora travels with you.

    Like

    • You know, I really enjoy traveling by myself — whether it’s camping or a regular hotel stay. I spend the quiet time thinking and writing, and often taking pictures. And I invariably meet interesting people.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That is a nice view of your campsite Ann. So nice you could get back out to BB and get some of its good wide open fresh air therapy!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Peter Harvard // October 23, 2015 at 7:40 pm // Reply

    Car camping and more coffee and morning light and memories…

    Good.

    Sent from iME!

    >

    Like

    • Peter, you were the first person who talked to me about “making memories” — a self-conscious effort to be in the moment, to be reflective, to understand how powerful our images and memories are.

      Like

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