Sunday, November 17, 2013

 This is the awesome cake that Faith and her friend Shannon made for Dylan's birthday, it's a Skylanders cake, which is a game Dylan really likes.
 About a month ago Dylan said he wanted a surprise party for his birthday.  His party was on Saturday, so we sent him over to his friend Blake's house for the afternoon and got all set up, then waited for him to get home so we could all jump out and yell "Surprise!".  It was really loud, I guess.
 Dylan hugged every present he got.
 All the kids kept edging closer and closer to Dylan as he was opening presents and he kept getting pushed back into the corner.
 Here's Dylan and Mckinley blowing out his candle.  She offered her help without even being asked.

 The picture above is a cake our friend Arwen made for a themed dinner thing we did a year or two ago, I just found it on my camera and thought I'd show it off.  It's supposed to look like a horse heart.  It did not taste very good at all, I don't think anybody there finished their piece of it.
 This is my wall tent that has been at my friend Mark's house in Portland since we moved to Republic.  I went down and got it this summer for a guy on the fire crew to live in on some property he had bought.  We got it back at the end of the summer and went camping on Halloween.  I had to camp out for work, and Faith and the boys signed up as volunteers so they could come with me and ride in a work truck.  I was unsure if the boys would be willing to miss trick or treating to go camping, and when I asked them if they would rather go trick or treating or camping Simon yelled "I don't care, cancel Halloween, we're going camping!".  The reason I had to camp out for work is this:
 The Capitol Christmas Tree came from the Colville National Forest this year.  The Capitol Christmas tree goes on the lawn of the capitol building, not the white house.  We found out in April of 2012 that we had been chosen for this "honor".  We had to find a few candidate trees, as well as arrange for 80 companion trees, and coordinate the making of something like 8,000 ornaments.  Candidate trees were selected by forest service employees, we were supposed to look for them while we were out working.  Then the head groundskeeper for the capitol building came out and made the final selection, which was on the Newport Ranger District.  The tree was an 88 foot tall spruce.  The forest decided to put together a small incident management team to manage the whole operation of getting the area set up for the cutting ceremony, cutting the tree down, getting it loaded on the truck, and transported down to Newport, WA.  In typical government fashion, they selected a guy named Brian to be the incident commander, then never told him.  I heard about Brian being the IC in early September.  Near the end of September, at least 3 weeks since I had heard that Brian would be the IC, my phone at work rang and it was Brian.  He said "I'm not sure if you heard but they're setting up a team to manage the christmas tree ceremony, and I was told this morning that I was the IC."  I stopped him and told him I had heard he was going to be the IC 3 weeks earlier.  He was a little frustrated, because the government shutdown rumors were flying at the time, and there was only about a month until the cutting ceremony, and a lot of work to be done to get ready for it.  Anyway, he asked me to be the operations section chief for the team, which meant I was in charge of getting the tree cut, put on the truck, secured to the truck, and transported down to Newport.  I agreed and after a few meetings we decided that it would be best if I camped out at the tree site the night before the cutting ceremony.  The tree is about a 3 hour drive from Republic and I had to be at the site the day before the tree was cut to get the cranes placed, go over how to cut the tree with the sawyers, make sure the climber and the crane company agreed on how to get the tree rigged, and make sure everything was ready to go.  We got through that day, then I was working the next morning by 0630 finishing getting stuff ready.
 The three folks in the picture above are Jim, who climbed the tree to set the rigging for the crane; John, who made the face cut on the tree; and Adam, who did the final cut on the tree.  Everybody that was interested in cutting the tree that was a C-sawyer (the highest level of sawyers in the Forest Service) had their name put in a hat and John and Adam were selected.  I'm the one who certifies the C sawyers on the forest, so I was assigned to make sure the guys knew how to cut a tree suspended from crane, and be the back up if necessary.  None of us had ever cut a tree suspended from a crane before, so we kind of made it up as we went along, with some help from the crane company.  The top of the tree was hooked to the crane, and once Adam cut it off the stump a second crane was hooked up near the bottom of the tree, that's the yellow crane in the picture above.  It was then laid flat suspended about 20 feet above the ground and the truck backed in underneath it.
 When the team we had set up first got involved the forest was planning on there being around 50 people in attendance at the cutting ceremony.  Brian and I spent a lot of time convincing them that there would be way more than 50 people.  They somewhat reluctantly agreed to let us plan for more than 200 people, but I don't think they believed that there would be that many.  It ended up being just over 300 people that showed up.
 Here's the tree laying on the truck.  It rested on 8 cradles on the bed of the truck.  Once it was laid down the branches were all dragging on the ground and we had to get them all tied off so they wouldn't drag.
Here's the truck, donated by Mack Trucks to transport the tree to Washington.  The truck was so long it couldn't make it around all the corners to get down the dirt road to the highway, so we had a front end loader hook onto the back of the trailer and lift the rear wheels off the ground and move the trailer around the sharp corners.  It took 2.5 hours to make it 25 miles into Newport.  Once the tree got to Newport it got all packaged up so it fit on the trailer, then it headed for the Capitol.  It's making a bunch of stops on the way, right now they're in San Antonio I think.  I was going to sign up to travel with the tree, but then I found out it's a 5 week long road trip and I decided not to sign up.    Overall it was a pretty neat experience, and the boys really enjoyed seeing the whole thing, but I sure don't want to do it again.

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