As I mentioned, we decided to go on winter walkabout down at Cedar Creek Sunday morning. My only stipulatoin was that I had to be back by 2:30 to go to the tree farm with Brian & Kristin (and, of course, Vicki -- but that should go without saying).
We got to the Cedar Creek wildlife area before 10 am, after going and grabbing the traditional dogs and buns at the grocery store. Nobody had been on the trail since the snow. It was a virgin snow trail -- and good thing we knew about where it was, as it was, of course -- burried.
Early on in the trail is a grove of large cedar trees, and it was like entering "Christmas Land" going past the first ones, as 20-30 foot cedars loaded down with snow towered around us. The only tracks in the snow were numerous rabbit tracks and several deer tracks. Every now and then you'd see a little rabbit sized hole in the snow, and rabbit tracks leading out of it. I guess their fur keeps them warm even when surrounded by snow.
The snow was about knee deep and powdery - it moved easily. It also stuck to my dungarees, and by the time we reached the island, the bottoms were frozen tubes, practically clanking against my ankles.
We set about finding material to make a fire. Most of what we found that looked dry had been soaked in the days of rain before the snow storm and frozen -- so it didn't catch easily. We finally wandered a couple of hundred yards to a known cedar grove where we found plenty of drier dead ceader twigs to get things started. Cedar has an oil in it that helps it catch even if it isn't completely dry.
Still having trouble with the magnifying glass method, we actually ended up after several healthy tries -- using matches, because time was a factor. We didn't scrounge up much wood, but enough for a small, hot fire that melted the ice from my pants and had steam pouring off of them into the 18 degree air.
I was feeling a little queasy, though, and the smoke wasn't helping. I ended up just eating buns, because the hotdog didn't sound good. I wasn't really even in the mood for taking many pictures -- which was a shame considering the scenery. I did get some, as you can see. We never even got around to firing the guns -- usually a staple of walkabout. There are typically cans that less wilderness conscious people leave lying around and/or they've floated down the stream and gotten caught on the island. But they were all under 15" or so of snow. And it was cold. And I did need to get back by 2:30. So after a successful fire, albiet using matches -- gathering and cutting/breaking up burnable wood was challenge enough, and it was time to put the fire out and go.
I got home in time to stablize my stomach with some tums & sparkling water -- and by sitting very still for a bit. Then Brian & Kristin showed up to take us to the tree farm in Brian's gigantic pickup -- which was quite handy considering even Nifong had a thick blanket of very bumpy ice on it.
Apparently a re-enforcing front passed between the time we left Cedar Creek and the time we got out to the tree farm. The wind picked up, and it was waaaaaaaay too cold to spend a lot of time outside picking out a tree. The wind chill must have been in the single digits.
A lot of the firs hadn't been unbound, and we always get a fir. They can't grow them right here, this tree farm grows pines, but imports firs from tree farms in Michigan. And being so cold even if you unwrapped one it wouldn't fall out so you could see how it looked. Eh. In the end, they all look fine once you get the lights and ornaments on them So we (and Brian and Kristin) each got one and put them in the pickup before going into the little gnome Christmas store to look at their ornamengs, get some glogg, and pay for the trees. And ornaments. You always have to get an ornament.
Got back and thawed the trees in the garage with Mr. Heater, the catalytic propane heater. Kevin and Angela came over and joined all of us for some turkey noodle soup -- yeah, that's HOME MADE, Jack, with Reems noodles and turkey frome the carcass of the Thanksgiving turkey we froze a week ago. Real live chopped up carrots, celery, and onion. Poultry seasoning, salt & pepper. That's pretty much all it takes. And a big stock pot. I have a huge one.
After dinner we sat around and yacked a while while Angela made Vicki a necklace to match some earrings Vicki had bought in Eureka Springs -- she matched it very well. Found the beads herself and made it right before our eyes, and added a magnetic clasp. Vicki's very happy with it. Kristin was feeling pretty sick (turns out she has strep -- we found out today) and Brian and Kristin took their tree home. A bit later Kev & Angela left and we pretty much crashed.
So, that pretty much sums up the snowy weekend.