DAY 264

DAY 264
TREE 189

Christmas Eve and Scott and I spent most the day out shopping for last minute gifts.  We drove all over the place and I constantly looked for good trees.  We stopped at Skyline Chili for a snack and there were some decent tree around there but I chose not to climb any of them.  We went to the mall and eventually made our way to Springhurst shopping center to buy ice cream and rent some movies.  Once we were done we had the option of taking the highway or back roads.  I chose the back roads for my last attempt at finding a tree before dark.  We went all the way down 22 until it becomes 146.  Nothing.  Then I came to the intersection by South Oldham High School. 

Off to the left, a little back into the campus, was a field with a few great possibilities.  I pulled into the school and drove back to the parking lot near the trees. 

The sun was low and bright.  A perfect time to climb.  My brother stayed in the car and I got out and immediately picked my tree.  It had good branches all the way up but was a challenge at the bottom.  Quickly I spotted an overhanging limb and grabbed it, tugged then hung from it.  It was strong enough though very bendy.  As I began to climb it became almost completely vertical like I was climbing a hanging rope.  The little twigs growing off this limb poked into my hands butthey helped keep my grip.  The branch gradually got thicker and bent back up to normal as I moved into the trunk.  I righted myself to my feet and up I went. 

Fast and difficult, making quick decisions to reach the highest possible point that I could.  Many little twigs broke as I moved up the tree.  At the top I spread my stance between two thin limbs. 

I tied my ribbon and took pictures of the surrounding landscape. 

Then I put the camera away and really took in the view.  I could see the Buckner water tower from my position.  Really, all that stuck up were the small town water towers.  The sun was warm and the climb felt good.  This was a good tree. 

I looked down at the car to see if Scott was watching but I was too high to see his face.  I am not sure how interested he was anyway.  So I began my descent trying to pick an alternate path down than I went up to vary the experience.  The climb went quick and I was soon to the lowest branch.  I didn’t want to make a big drop so I went out the limb as far as I could then gently dropped to the ground.  I went back to the car, then my family, ready for the coming Christmas. 

12-29-08:  It was nice to have all my presents ready well before Christmas this year.  My brother did so as well so we didn’t have to go out shopping on Christmas Eve this year.  Braving that traffic and feeling the pressure of finding the right gift on the last day possible is something I can do without.  I remember one year in high school I hadn’t gotten anything for my girlfriend, Rachel, and my brother and I went all over the place looking on Christmas Eve.  All I came home with was a stuffed animal crocodile key chain.  I stayed up till 5am making an oil painting of a cut watermelon.  Needless to say, it wasn’t close to being dry the next day when I gave it to her, but it was one of the best gifts I ever gave. 

Speaking of Rachel, she came in town for the holidays and wanted me to show her my installations inDublin, Ohio.  We had the chance last Tuesday so she came over and we headed out for a road trip.  I drove while she finished knitting Christmas gifts.  She said she had checked the weather and thought it was going to be clear.  It started to rain just north of Cincinnati.  It was grey, cold, and rainy.  Not a great day to go to a park, but whatever.  After a little more than three hours we made it to Coffman Park in Dublin.  By this point it was sleeting and the wind was freezing.  We stopped in the office to warm up and to get a map, then we headed out to see the work. 

I took her to each of the bodies letting her spot them before I pointed them out. 

She seemed to like them. 

She also like the swans and ducks in the frozen pond and had me take some pictures.

It was too bad it was so cold out, we would’ve stayed longer and enjoyed the park.  I had brought my camera thinking I would climb here, but it was just so wet and nasty, and I wasn’t wearing the proper attire for the weather.  We left the park and went to Trader Joe’s to stock up on essentials.  Then we stopped at the Whole Foods since I thought Rachel would like to see the largest Whole Foods I had ever seen.  By the time we got onto the highway, it was rush hour and the interstate was like a parking lot.  I had taken the wrong exit and ended up going north to I-71, then turned to go through Columbus.  I think we went a couple miles in a half hour.  It was pointless so we pulled off and drove through down town and ended up in the German Village.  The streets there are all brick and the rain from the day had frozen solid.  We pulled over to inquire about a place to eat and almost hit a pole.  Our restaurant choices were limited to crappy chains or nice and expensive.  We chose a place called Barcelona and split an soup, side, and entre.  It was nice and got me in a better mood.  We finally got back on the road at 8:30 and I was ready to get going so I could get home and climb a tree.  When we got onto the interstate I started to feel the car shift.  People were driving slow and had their emergency flashers on.  The entire highway was an ice rink.  I slowed way down, held strong to 10 and 2, and told Rachel to keep very quite.  I concentrated and we very slowly made progress towards Cincinnati.  I had Rachel call Rickey to find out the weather and road conditions south of us.  He said Cincinnati was rainy but not icy.  He was right and I was able to increase my speed as we approached.  We pulled off on Exit 25 to get gas.  It was pissing with rain and after I filled the tank I spotted a nearby tree and thought I should just get it over with.  I grabbed my camera and walked to the base of the tree.  It was one of those oaks whose trunks are crowded with branches.  It looked like it would be a dirty struggle to the top so I climbed up about 4 branches and quit. 

I didn’t care this time.  I was more concerned about getting home safe and at a decent hour.  I took some pictures of the surrounding restaurants

and gas stations,

and a few shots looking down. 

I refrained from pointing my camera up so it wouldn’t get completely soaked.  I climbed back down and tried to take one last picture of the tree but the rain had gotten to the lens. 

I jumped back into the car soaked and we got back on the interstate.  We got through Cinci ok, crossed the river and headed towards the I-71 exit towardsLouisville.  About a mile away, we saw that the exit was backed up and no one was moving.  Not wanting to sit in that shit, we drove on down I-75 towards Lexington.  We called Drew and he told us a back roads route we could take to get further south down I-71.  Two exits later we took 467 and it was clear.  We were making progress then hit another snag.  A line up of about 10 cars in the middle of no where were stopped on the road.  Rachel got out and talked to the truck in front of us.  They had been waiting for 10 minutes and had been trying to get across the river since three that afternoon.  It was past 10pm at this point.  It turns out we were just behind someone who was scared and didn’t know how to drive.  We started to move but didn’t get above 30 mph.  They should have pulled over and let us pass, but, of course, did not.  Eventually we did make it to I-71.  The south bound lanes were moving but crowded.  The north bound lanes were a parking lot.  I drove in the mess constantly tapping my brakes and accelerating and slowing.  I decided when we got to Buckner to take 393 by my parents’ place and take highway 42 the rest of the way to my house.  When I we got off the interstate the rain just poured and I could barely see out the window.  Thankfully 42 was empty of cars and I could drive with out much concern.  Until, that is, I hit a puddle and hydroplaned.  Not bad, and I didn’t lose control, but I was just done with this trip and ready to be home.  We finally rolled up to my house about 1:30am exhausted but relieved.  What a damn road trip.  I am so glad we made it home safe.