Oh , Christmas Tree

This year the Lincoln National Forest was offering a pass to anyone adventurous enough to want to cut down their own Christmas tree.  In the past we have cut down our own tree, but it has been many, many years.  With the kids getting older we decided this year we would try again.  We packed up the car with saws, ropes, work gloves, snacks, change of clothes, drinks, 3 very excited  children, their accessories, knitting for me and one puppy then we left.  Now, when you pack all that into a pickup truck you are bound to be a little crowded.  And so we were, so it was no surprise when the whining and complaining and fighting started only miles from the house.  I'll admit I was slightly concerned when John said, "we can go home right now!" and we hadn't even made it to the highway!  Soon they were settled and we managed to make the 2 1/2 hour drive to the National Forest.  Lincoln national Forest is in New Mexico just NE of Las Cruses.  We picked up our tree cutting permit and arrived, in Cloudcroft NM, relatively early on Sunday morning.   It was a brisk 42 degrees, 20 degrees cooler than we left the house!  Map in hand we drove down many a country road with the kids shouting, there's one!, there's one!, how about that one? as they spotted the "perfect" Christmas tree.  It dawned on me just at that time, what a difficult task we had ahead.  Ask any given number of people to pick out their perfect tree and  you will get a different answer.  We found a secluded country dirt road and parked the car and got out to go find our tree.

  I cannot put into words how extremely beautiful it was in the woods.  The ponderosa pines towered over us as the sun beams shot thru the branches.  Every now and then the kids would stumble upon a patch of snow that had been hidden from the hot sun.  We hiked, played in the snow, scouted for animals (saw a few beautiful elk, a couple of squirrels and evidence of deer) and generally had a great time, all the while discussing the trees we had come across.  After about 2 hours of hiking, Jack started to complain that he was cold,  Emma decided she was ready to go home and put up the artificial tree and Mark, hatchet in hand was more than ready to chop down the smallest sapling, just to get the chance to use the tools we had brought.  The party was over.  John made an executive decision and lead us back to a tree, "he had found earlier" (wink, wink) and we decided that we had found it!  The kids took turns "helping" to cut down the tree, trim off the dead branches and then carry the tree back to the car.  It was an all around group effort. 
 After a great day in the forest, we had our tree and were ready to head home!
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