Archive for December 11th, 2005

Dashing Through the Snow

Sunday, December 11th, 2005

Yesterday’s tree expedition was a definitive success. It was everything we thought it would be, and a lot more fun. Frankly, it was also more convenient than I had expected. Well, except for a few location errors.

I’ve decided that Google Maps aren’t all that for this area. For the second time, the program has failed to alert me to the presence of more than one road with the same name. Well, at least that’s the second time that it’s picked the wrong duplicate address and sent me out into the backwoods. To further complicate GM’s issues, their satellite photos of this area don’t exist at a magnification beyond 2,000 feet per inch, and even at that level, they are so fuzzy as to be completely useless. I realize availability of satellite photos isn’t their fault, but it does reduce the usefulness.

Before we could go into the woods to do our lumberjack shtick, we had to buy a tree cutting license from the US Department of Forestry. We found an office in the neighboring town that would be open on Saturday and mapped it. But as you can probably tell from my previous paragraph, that didn’t work out so well. Instead of ending up at the USDF Visitor’s Center, we ended up at the edge of BumFuckEgypt, surrounded by double-wides and rusted vehicle carcasses. I swear I heard a banjo playing, but Beau Hunk says it was only my imagination.

We called the USDF, and after finding that there are two buildings there, one of which was closed, we found out we had the wrong version of the address. Luckily the correct version was only a few extra miles away. We hot-footed it out of Hooterville, headed to the office, got our permit and pointed the hood toward the woods.

The next problem was that the clerk had told us to go to a specific town, but the maps he gave us that showed exactly where it was legal to cut a Christmas tree didn’t cover that town. We ended up going another 15 miles up the road to an area that was shown on the map. There was a little apprehension about this at first, because since we are new to this area, we didn’t know that it was only 15 more miles until we started seeing highway signs with distances. Until then, it could have been another 50 miles for all we knew. But it all worked out for the best.

Our route was easy enough – a two-lane highway that was cut through tall pine trees and wound through little towns whose highway frontage consisted of three or four buildings. The road rose in elevation, and just past the 5,000 feet mark, we found our turnoff. The little dirt road had been covered in snow, but had since been rutted out in muddy tracks. Beau Hunk put the truck in 4WD and grinned. He was in big-boy heaven.

We bounced down the road for half a mile or so, then pulled off down a side track that had a few tire tracks on top of the snow and ice. The truck slipped and slid a couple of times, but mostly because Beau Hunk was purposely hitting the gas. We stopped in a little clearing where we could easily see trees that would fit the bill.

Of course we couldn’t just pick the first thing we saw. We tromped off into the meager snow (only 4-5 inches) and started looking for the perfect tree. We narrowed down the selection, eventually selecting a lovely tree that was straight, balanced, full and about eight feet tall. It was perfect! Beau Hunk cut it down and loaded it in the truck. We cut off a small bough from the tree and stuck it on the dash – the whole truck was filled with the most lovely pine scent. We took some time to play in the snow, throwing snowballs and generally having fun before going home.

We’ve decided we’d like to do this every year. It’s affordable enough, the tree cutting sites are only about an hour from here, and we had load of fun. As an added bonus, the truck smells wonderful!