Saturday, December 1, 2007

An Oregon Christmas Tree, part two

So anyway, a permit, a chainsaw, and a small bit of holiday insanity are your Oregon Christmas tree prerequisites. Here's how it works:

Step one:
You get up much MUCH earlier than you normally would on a Saturday to make sure that you have all of the necessary gear to go Oregon Christmas Tree hunting. This includes boots, coats, hats, mittens, scarves, and extra mittens and warm socks for everyone, including two small excited little girls who have no idea what's going on but are sent into peals of excited laughter at the mere sight of their snow pants. You also have to find the baby's carrier and snowsuit, the dog's leash, and an ear/headband thingy that is big enough for your husband's bigass head. Is it any wonder that *I* forgot *my* coat?

Step two:
You get in the car and drive towards a mountain. Preferably a mountain with trees. Because that's the whole point of this whole expedition. Any big ol' snow covered mountain will do, but because we were really looking for an AUTHENTIC Oregon Christmas Tree Hunting Experience, we of course headed for Mt Hood.

Step three:
Communicate with friends and apologize because you are running late. They are waiting. You of course apologize profusely, and then realize that everyone KNOWS that you are on time 99.9% of the time and after all, you do have three children. And a dog. And Skippy. It's all good. Continue driving. Very soon, it begins to look like this.

Step Four:
At this point, you finally meet up with your friends. You are in the tiny town of Parkdale, Oregon - pretty much right in between the civilization that is Hood River, and the wilderness that surrounds Mt Hood. The snow is deeper here, and it's soft powdery stuff - a skier's dream snow. You're here because in order to go cut down an Oregon Christmas Tree, you have to have a tree cutting permit. For five dollars, you get a nice neon orange tag for your tree, a map, and two pages of instructions. It's actually more complicated than it sounds. For example, you can't cut within 100 feet of a trail. You can't cut within 200 feet of a water source. The tree you cut down must have another tree within eight feet of it. And so on and so forth. Kind of fascinating really. You read while your husband drives and your kids draw funny faces on the fogged up back windows. When you finally reach your destination (for us, Little John Sno-Park), you realize that this ain't your Daddy's tree farm.

Step Five:
You get your family out of the car and get everyone bundled into their snow gear. This includes stuffing your annoyed baby into a snowsuit like a sausage and then stuffing said baby-sausage into the snuggli carrier WHILE wiping his nose and getting two little girls into snow pants. All of this takes approximately four and a half days. Thankfully, you have very patient and wonderful friends.

Step Six:
You take a headcount, strap the baby onto your chest, and start walking. This begins as a rather rowdy and cheerful event, with all sixteen members of your party throwing snowballs, exclaiming over the beauty of the scenery and making some funny although horrible Donner party jokes. You are immediately thankful that the event organizer's father has a chainsaw strapped to his back. Thus begins the quest for the perfect tree.

Step Seven:
You look at trees.

Step Eight:
You walk some more.

Step Nine:
You look at some trees.

Step Ten:
You pull your five year old out of a snowbank for the thirty seventh time. Thankfully, she still thinks it's fun.

Step Eleven:
You walk some more.

Step Twelve:
You shake some snow off of some trees.

Step Thirteen:
You fix your four year old's gloves, AGAIN. Then you repeat steps 9 - 13 several more times.

Step Fourteen:
You realize that your feet are cold and you can't feel your butt. Oddly enough, you are having an absolute blast.

Step Sixteen:
Finally, at long last, the chainsaw fires up. The snow is falling in huge fluffy flakes and the trees start coming down to the jubilant cries of TIM-BER and "No Skippy, that one is too big babe." It was actually really fun. The first thing you realize is that these trees....they are different. They aren't like Christmas tree farm trees, all perfect and full and shaped like a first grader's green construction paper triangle. These suckers have character. And when each family/couple/group found their tree, it was really pretty neat. There was a great sense of accomplishment. I mean, it's not like we walked along a clean paved path, surveying the available trees the way one would check out the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Nuh uh. There was no trail. We used a "path" of sorts that some snow mobiles had created earlier and we were hiking up and down hills wading through snow that sometimes came up past my knees. It was AWESOME. Can you blame Skippy for looking proud?

Of course, then you realize that not only must you walk all the way back, but now you have to drag a tree along with you. And your kids are tired. And now you REALLY can't feel your butt anymore. Which of course brings us to step seventeen.

Step Seventeen:
You walk back. Let's just leave this step as it is okay? You really don't want me to elaborate.

Step Eighteen:
You prop your tree up against the car. Your very own real live OREGON CHRISTMAST TREE. You realize that you're not done yet. Somehow you still need to tie that puppy up there. You still have to drive all the way home.

But right now, there is a monster hill waiting, and there's more important things to do. You're going to go sledding with your kids.

So. There you have it. How to get a REAL OREGON CHRISTMAS TREE WITH FRIENDS WHILE YOUR BUTT IS NUMB, in eighteen easy steps. Pretty darn neat huh?

A HUGE thank you to all of our friends, especially B&Y for putting it all together, and Y's folks for letting us all tag along and putting that chainsaw to good use! Tonight after our kids went to bed, Skippy and I were talking about the day and we agreed that even though it was a hell of a lot of hard work, it was one of the best and most memorable things we've done with our kids since moving out here. This is a beautiful place to raise a family and we're so happy to have you all in our lives!

I'm going to get a bunch of pictures up on Picasa - AmyM took a million great shots, and I got a few as well - when I get them up I'll update the blog with a link!

And before you ask, no we haven't gotten it into the house yet. It's snowing outside and we've got an awesome fire going tonight. And my butt just thawed out.


Lavendersheep said...

It was a whole lot of fun! I must say that it was probably the fastest we have ever found trees. Blair and I thought it was a blast. Hopefully we can do it again next year.

Kyla said...

I'm sounds like fun! We had an ice/snow storm and stayed in most of the weekend. Next year, we will probably head out to a nice, neat little tree farm and cut down a tree. Dan's never had a real sad! Of course, I guess since we don't have one this year, Addie's never had one either!

AuntJane said...

As much as we miss you - it's so nice to hear how good life is! Love from home...j,s,e&a!

AuntJane said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aslan said...

if you see a Hanukkah bush you let me know. otherwise, you have fun. watch out for nesting squirrels.

ToniRose said...

Beautiful Pictures! What a picture perfect blog =o) You should make prints of your adventures and sell them =o) Ps...whens that book coming out?