Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Family Tradition

(Photo by me, Tasha)

I’d like to share with you one of my family’s traditions. When my family and I came to live in Wyoming in 1994, we started a family tradition with my sister and her family, which we still practice today. Every first Saturday of December, we go up to the mountains to hunt for that Perfect Christmas Tree. Perfect has a very relative meaning in this subject. The mountain-harvested Christmas trees do not look like the tree farm bought trees that have a perfect, robust, and green appearance. The perfect mountain-harvested Christmas tree is something the tree farm owner would discard in the landfill. Unfit for the market! You know that saying, “A face only a mother could love,” right? Well, it applies in this situation also, especially that we’ve worked hard to find it and bring it home.

We may never have a perfect tree farm bought Christmas tree, but we’d never give up our tradition for one, either. We treasure our tradition because it gives our families another reason to get together, go up to the mountains, and enjoy a fun-filled day. First, we gather at my sister’s house and then leave when everybody’s present and accounted for. Laramie is only 45 minutes drive from Cheyenne, but it never fails that we stop at this fishing tackle store there, just off I-80, before heading up into the mountains. I suppose it’s a part of the tradition, too. It wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t stop.

On our drive, the kids are talking through the two-way radios. When the kids were little, there were just two vehicles and two 2-way radios. This year, there were four vehicles, so there were four 2-way radios. We make jokes and make comments about anything and just have fun using the radios along the way.

Once in the mountains, we park our vehicles alongside the narrow road. (You don’t want to go too far to the side or your truck drops off into the snow drift-covered ditch and you get stuck in the snow—four wheel drive and all.)

Hubby's vehicle still didn't get washed from his bison hunting trips.

For all the years we’ve been going up there, we always park and walk into the same area. We’re traditionalists, I suppose. We routinely see snowmobiles whizzing up and down the sides of the roads. One of these days, we’ll join them. We’ve been telling ourselves that—year after year, but still haven’t gotten around to doing it. Maybe next year. Yeah, right.

We put our snow boots and snow shoes on. (Hubby usually helps me put mine on.)

Off we go. Many times we’re the first humans to walk through the virgin snow. We see deer and rabbit tracks, but that’s about it. We’ve been up there in different weather conditions—pleasant to bitter cold, snow falling and/or blowing, white-out or blizzard, cloudy and sunny. This year, it was a gorgeous, sunny day. My family and I walk all over, stopping occasionally to take pictures and to critique each potential candidate until we find our perfect Christmas tree. Once we make our choice, we cut it down and then drag it to the truck, huffing and puffing.Hubby and his saw.

My brother-in-law usually brings a pot of his favorite chili recipe, which he heats up on his camping stove. My sister boils some water to make hot chocolate. I then bring out the shredded cheese, Chili-Cheese Fritos, and some desserts from our vehicle. We sit in camping chairs that my brother-in-law carries in his truck all year round, while the kids go sledding.

This year, one of my nieces towed the others up the road while they rode the toboggan that was tied to the back of her truck. Once up on the summit, they’d untie the toboggan and, then, off they’d go down the slope. They’d repeat the same maneuver until lunch is ready. Of course, it’d take forever to get them over to eat. There’s just something magical about eating piping-hot chili and drinking hot chocolate out in the cold outdoors. They taste heavenly. When the kids are done eating, they’d go back sledding until we’re packed and ready to head home.
This is our Perfect Christmas Tree after hubby decorated it with glass ornaments, white lights, and gold and silver balls.

Because Gabe gets into everything now, we hardly put Christmas decorations out, especially the breakable ones. We still put a few out that are not breakable.

Our Son and his son, Gabe.This is Gabe, smiling at you.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you share some of your family traditions, as well.

I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to you, my friends, for not having visited your blogs lately. The past two weeks have been so hectic, meeting friends for breakfast or lunch, attending parties, going shopping, Christmas decorating, and just meeting everyday life’s demands and responsibilities. Don’t think one minute that I’ve forgotten about you; I have just been very busy. And it looks like it will be this way at least until after the second week of January. By then, I’ll have put on another 20 pounds. I’ll be Mrs. Pillsbury Dough Boy, for sure.

In closing, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous New Year!

With Love,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Gave Into Temptation!

I was only in this country three months when hubby and I drove from Florida to Pennsylvania to visit his family in December 1977. It was my first long trip in a car. Along the way, we passed people with backpacks, holding signs, asking for rides. I asked hubby why we didn’t stop to give them rides. “This is something you have to learn in this country,” he said. “Unlike the Philippines, you just don’t go stopping and giving people rides, if you want to live.”

“What do you mean?” As na├»ve as I was, hubby had to explain to me all the dangers of giving rides to strangers.

“Oh, but they look tired, cold, and hungry. I feel sorry for them.”

“Well, you just have to feel sorry for them, Tootie, because we’re not stopping to give them rides,” hubby said. I was truly heartbroken for them. I still am when I see them out there. I’m always tempted to give those hitchhikers rides. Actually, I gave into temptation and gave a guy a ride a year and a half ago. Needless to say, hubby was not happy. I was scared to death the whole time. So, as much as I like to give them rides, I’m not going to anymore. You’ll find out why.
Anyway, I was driving up in Vedauwoo (pronounced as Vedavoo), looking for the outdoor performance by the University of Wyoming dance troupe. It’s a type of dance in which dancers are tied to long ropes as they perform their aerial dances. I couldn’t find the place, so I stopped on the side of the road to check the map again. The man I passed a while back walking from the direction of Interstate 80 (I-80), approached me, unexpectedly, in my van. He asked if I could give him a lift to his truck somewhere on the other side of the wooded park. I saw that he only had the can of gas with him and looked very tired from walking. I was reluctant to give him a ride, but he pleaded. It was just him and me out there in the boonies. I said, “I can’t because I have to be somewhere. I just can’t find the place right now.” As soon as I said that, a voice inside my head told me that perhaps I wasn’t suppose to find the place so that I could give this man a ride. The next thing I knew, I was asking him where his truck was while allowing him to get into the passenger side.

I called hubby on my cell phone right away, saying that I was going to be late meeting him for lunch because I had to give somebody a ride. I wasn’t making any sense to him. He was clearly baffled. We didn’t plan a lunch date, so why was I calling to say that? He asked where I was and what I was doing in Vedauwoo. He had forgotten about me going to the outdoor dance performance. It was my subtle way of letting the man know that I was in contact with my husband that if he had any evil purpose, that he might want to think twice before doing it. It was also my subtle way of letting hubby know the general area where to find me or my body, just in case. After driving a while and not finding his truck, I became very suspicious and very nervous. I talked to him some more. He didn’t talk very much. In the mean time, hubby had been calling me every few minutes wanting to know if I was okay. I said yes. He wanted to know if he should come over, or if he should call the police. I said no, and that we still haven’t found the guy’s truck. So far, we had been driving an hour and a half, looking for his truck. Hubby suggested taking him to the Highway Department to see if anybody there had towed his vehicle. I told that to the guy. He agreed. I also told him that I had to go to work. I was so relieved after I dropped him off at the Highway Department’s parking lot. Whether he went inside or not, I don't know. I didn't wait to see. I hurried to drive away from him incase he'd ask me to drive him around some more.

I’ll never know if the guy truly got turned around and had lost his bearing, completely, which he had claimed. Supposedly, his truck ran out of gas around 2 a.m. on the other side of Vedauwoo. He then hitched a ride with a Semi truck to Laramie, which is 15 miles west of Vedauwoo. While in Laramie, he went to a bar, which explained the strong alcohol smell in him. It could have been worse if the smell of gas didn’t dampen it. From Laramie, he hitched a ride with a semi-truck and got dropped off at the entrance of the park. From there, he walked up to where I was parked. Either that or he was running away from the law. The smell of gas was so potent that dogs would not have been able to follow his tracks.

Yes, never again will I give a stranger a ride. I was very fortunate that nothing bad happened to me.

Thanks for reading.

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