Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fetching the Tree 2008

Traditionally, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is the day we go fetch our Christmas tree. This year was no exception. The difference was that everybody else--AND their dog--decided it was their day to get a tree, too!

In years past we have had blizzards, time constraints, and dog fights, but this year the weather was dry and a "balmy" 27 degrees F with a low ceiling of clouds that threatened snow, we had all day, and the dogs were cooperative.

Despite the usual mad search for hats, boots and coats, we got an early start. The road to Evanston, WY was pretty much deserted, but once past Evanston our Wrench-in-the-Works for this year manifested itself: it had rained the night before and then frozen, and everything was coated wtih 3/4" of ice. We slowed way down.
In order to cut down a fresh tree from Christmas Meadows, you have to get a permit from the US Forest Service. It only costs $10, making these the cheapest and most exciting trees on the market. But to get it, you have to pull into the lodge parking lot, which is attached to a parking lot 6' lower than the road. Oh, and coated with ice. And everybody was either in the parking lot, trying to get in, or trying to get out. Getting in was no problem for us. Gravity works. Pulling out, however, we had to go up the hill in the face of oncoming traffic, the ice, and the congestion. Our first 2 tries were unsuccessful due to oncoming traffic, and people ahead of us stopping, so 5 cowboys hanging around the parking lot (for just such a situation, probably) headed our way to push us up the hill (in our Chrysler New Yorker! HA! I don't think so.). HH waved them away, sure that if he got an uninterrupted run at the hill he would make it. We backed way up and sat there waiting for traffic to clear (making several people behind us mad), finally got a minute opening, and ran for it.

It was touch and go there, for a second, but our wheels kept spinning and we actually kept moving and made it out. From then on, we drove VERY CAREFULLY as the road was narrow, icy, snowy, and not maintained. And busy. We had to go a long way to find a place to pull out of traffic without going downhill at all, cuz if we got stuck way out there, we'd be there all winter! HH spotted a nice stand of young trees across a marshy place next to a campground. The ice coating everything made every step a drumroll. You could always tell where the dogs were by the crunch-crunch-crunch of their steps!

Crossing the marshy place, we very quickly found a nice, bushy tree less than 12' tall, cut it down and hooked it up to the dogs' leashes. The benefit of the ice was that dragging it back to the car was much easier than in former years!

The tree "fit" in the trunk, with the copious application of lots of rope, but the fun wasn't over yet! Just past the Lodge, an extended cab pickup towing a motor home had jack-knifed and was blocking both lanes, unable to move for the ice. A trooper was parked on the side of the road with it's lights flashing, but apparently not helping in any other way. We all just sat there burning dead dinosaurs for half an hour. Finally, another pickup with chains and TWO tow ropes was able to tow the offending pickup past us to the Lodge. The chains dug deep holes in the ice as they went by. Traffic started moving then, and we passed another motor home in the ditch, and two cars with bashed-in grills waiting for tows as well. We crawled back to Evanston, filled up with gas (at $1.45 per gallon!), treated Daughter #3 to a 15th Birthday lunch, and drove merrily home. Back home, Daughter #1 had moved the furniture around in the living room, set up the Christmas tree stand, and fetched half the boxes of Christmas decorations from the basement. What a nice surprise! We are now officially Decorated for Christmas!

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