Last year's hunt for a Christmas tree hunt went nothing like we planned it, so this year we were itching to get out and see what the adventure would bring. It turns out, everything went exactly as planned, perhaps making up for last year.
We headed out around 10am, with three goals in mind:
- Test out the APRS setup.
- Check the clearance of the new tires as the rear of the truck flexed.
- Get a Christmas tree.
Of course, there was a fourth goal as well - try to do all the above without @mini.turbodb asking "are we there yet?" a million times.
The drive out I-90 and ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ went completely uneventfully; perhaps the only notable thing being the terrible gas mileage (as a result of the bigger tires). I can almost watch the gas gauge drop now - fun times.
As we turned onto ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮ , we found a nice hill to check rear tire clearance. I backed the passenger rear slightly up the hill while keeping the other three wheels low, and then checked out the situation.
I'm not totally flexed here, but it's clear that in a situation where the rear gets stuffed another couple inches into the wheel well, I'll be in trouble - the mud flap will likely be trail-deleted, and I'd get a bunch of rubbing.
Lucky for me, I have a new top leaf that moves my center pin forward ¾-inch, which I'll be installing soon; that should completely eliminate the problem, and there's plenty of clearance in front of the tire.
From there, we were looking for our tree - always a hemlock, and generally from the edge of a scree field a few miles up the road. As we headed out, we hoped the weather - overcast but not raining - would hold.
Soon, we hit Mine Creek, where a 4-foot culvert that used to take the creek under the road now sits useless, just above the Ford. At least it makes a good "perch" for the poser shots!
As we pulled out of the creek, a Subaru showed up behind us and kindly asked if we were stuck. "Nope," I said, chuckling - adding, "Are you guys coming across?"
"No way," was their response, as they started their 9 point turn around.
We continued on, pretty sure that we weren't going to be seeing anyone else for the rest of the day.
And then we arrived at a scree field we've scouted in the past but haven't ever gotten a tree from. These scree fields are ideal because they allow the trees to grow more slowly (there's less competition), and there are often trees growing out of old stumps - good because they get light on all sides, making for a reasonably "full" and "balanced" tree.
@mini.turbodb was still in good spirits as we got out and ate lunch before picking our tree.
After eating, we made our way up the slope to check out a few nice specimens - ultimately deciding on one that was ~9 feet tall. While I proceeded to cut it down and drag it to the truck, @mrs.turbodb headed up the road looking for some cedar, fir, and pine boughs that we could use as greenery for a wreath and mantle-piece.
And with that, we packed ourselves back in the truck and headed out for what would become our daughter's favorite part of the adventure - and probably the only part she'll remember a year from now.
It was her turn to "drive."
Each year she's driven she's gone a bit further, and this year was no different - she steered, mostly by herself, for about a mile before getting too scared to continue (as we crossed a shelf road).
Through all of this, the APRS performed flawlessly - we tracked several other folks out on the roads, and our beacons were successfully registered on aprs.fi.
So that was us - three-for-three this year; a huge success!