So far I have told you about my first experiences living in Big, Wonderful. You have seen me begin my successful career as a Wyoming Wife. It doesn't seem so bad does it? I mean, this is stuff that can save you if you get stranded out in the wilderness, right? So, you have to be asking, how does Christmas tree hunting figure into all of this? Well, let me just tell you, it was definitely an experience! An experience that leads to an $817.50 christmas tree. An no, this isn't for a gigantic one, either.
I know, I know, most people don't hunt for a christmas tree, in fact there isn't one state out there that will tell you that hunting is involved. I mean, how hard is it to find a tree out in the forest, right? Well, there is more to it than that, so prepare yourself, you're about to be shocked!!
Christmas tree hunting is actually a sport here in Wyoming. You go down to the Forest Service, pay some where around $10.00 and get a map and a permit to cut down a tree. How adventurous! Anyways, we have our permit, our map, our kids, an axe and some warm clothing. We also have some sleds to haul this thing back with, just in case we find this monster tree that is unable to be carried! Next we head out of town, having got a good idea where to go by talking with other people. Head south on Hwy 191 and take a right about 15 miles from civilization. Go another 6 miles, hang a left at the entrance to Little Mountain (so known by the BLM sign stating it is so) and then just go up this two track road until you come to the unsuspecting forest! From there take out your equipment and end the life of something that is cleaning up our air... Sounds easy enough, right! Well, here is how it actually happened:
We headed down Hwy 191, turned at all the right roads and made our way up towards Little Mountain. It was about the first good weekend in December. We started up on that two track road and found a little part that was snowed in, so what do you think we did? Yeah, you're right, we locked in the four wheel drive and went around it. Now my loving husband was at the wheel right now, as I had been sicker than a dog the day before (three months pregnant and feeling it!) So he proceeds on down this road. It actually clears up for a little bit, no snow or nothing. But then, out of nowhere, we are driving on this road, turn a corner and drive right in to 12 inches of slush and powder. Not anything where you can get some traction at all. So my survival skilled spouse, hops out of the drivers seat and begins to put chains on, as we can't back down to the dry part of the road. Needless to say, it isn't as fun as it sounds. Rocking back and for and moving farther on up the road, is not my idea of getting a dang tree. But, he's pretty sure it can be done. So he's out there putting chains on while I'm driving, or at least attempting to. :) And it's cold out, really cold out. He's got his warmest stuff on, but the jeans are absorbing that snow quickly. My loving husband begins to guide me up this road that only one car at a time can drive on and make a three point turn to trek back down the road. There will be no tree for us today! Now making a three point turn on a two track road is not all that fun or exciting, in fact it's dang scary. Especially since this is really the first time I've done it... So I'm white knuckling the steering wheel, moving slower than cold molasses, my loving husband is freezing his hair off... It was not a good combination.
So I finally get turned around and he is freezing. So he let's me drive, is this a good idea? My first experience driving on deep snow is on the side of a mountain, I really can't think of a worse place, can you? So I just follow the ruts he made going up. It's like being on an amuzement park ride, until... Yeah, you guessed it, it didn't work out the way it was supposed to. I got caught in a drift coming back down and had a choice. Accelerate and hopefully get out of the drift and not go off the side of the road, down into the ravine or gracefully lay my big ol' truck up on its side in the little ditch on the other side of the road. So, I made the right decision, at least in my mind, I layed my truck up. Now this is not an easy task. Imagine a Dodge 2500 long bed truck with its driver back tire up off the ground about 3 feet. Not anything a person truly wants to experience! Well, we tried to get it out, but it wasn't having any of it. My side of the truck was up in the air, my spouses side was pressed up against the mountain. Now mind you through all of this, I have two kids in the back seat, elementary school aged. My daughter behind my husband and my son behind me. So I start to try and sooth the kids, talking about going tree hunting again, after we free ourselves from the hold of Little Mountain. She looks at me and says "Next time you have to roll on your side of the truck, I don't want to be squished into the door again." Yeah, like I planned this or something!! So then the two kids start arguing on whose side of the truck I'm going to roll next time... Quite comical considering! Luckily, we had cell service, so we called some friends to get us off the mountain. While we were waiting, my kids decided that they had had enough of being in the truck, so they start sledding down the road I just slipped off of. I found the tinsiet bit of humor in that. But at least someone was having a good time...
Then the unthinkable happened... Yup, the kids had to use the bathroom... I instruct my daughter in the ways of the wild and tell her to find a bush and do her thing. My son, however, being the adventurous outdoorsman he is, at 8, just does his thing in the middle of the road... Thank goodness for snowpant!! And the fact he turned away from us!!! I had to explain to him that he also has to find a bush to do his business... He didn't understand why... LOL!
Finally, my husband's boss arrives, with reinforcements, to remove us from our hunting experience. He is absolutely shocked at the condition of the road, since he was just up here the weekend before. We end of leaving my truck there, as it cannot be freed, and head back to town. We live about 40 miles away. Now this is where it gets worse.
By the time we get back to town, it has started to snow. I call the tow company to go and rescue my truck and wait. After an hour, I get a call back that there will be no sight of my truck tonight, as a white out has occured and all tow companies are on call for traffic accidents... Oh could the day get any worse?? No that day couldn't, but the following day could...
I called the tow company again. They are sending in the big guns to get my truck off the mountain. Directions include turning on this county road and then turning again where you see this sign, although there is actually no road name... I confused the guy so bad, he let's me talk to the driver directly and give him directions... Lucky for me this guy knows exactly where he is going!! So I tell him to drop it at my husbands job site so he can look it over for engine damage and such.. It takes the guy 2 1/2 hours to find it and bring it back, no remember we were only 40 miles from it. The snow dropped a load on to it and they had to break some snow drifts just to get to the poor truck! They bring it back and give me a bill for $300! (Ouch!!) Thank goodness there was no engine damage. Just bent the passenger side in a few places and tweeked my running boards... Once again Thank goodness!!! So off to the body shop... $500 deductible... Then off to Wallyworld for my $7.50 christmas tree that was 1 foot tall and living....
Christmas tree hunting permit - $10
Tow off the mountain - $300
Damage deductible - $500
Actually buying a tree - $7.50
Time spent with family alone in the wilderness - Priceless, there are just somethings you can't buy!! And then there are some things you just don't want to!!
We all made it out good, the truck looks great, but that was the first and last time we hunted for the elusive Christmas tree in the land of Wyoming!!
Hope you enjoyed it! Stay tuned for more Wyoming Wife training...