December 2009 – Week 3

Happy Holidays! Lately I have been very good about having my camera on me for my tree climbs… but fail to take pictures of other events and people. I need to remember to do that more. I guess that’s one reason I try to get people to climb with me… then I’ll at least have some pictures of my friends and family.

DAY 986 12.15.09 – I needed to climb and didn’t feel like going far but I have exhausted most of my climbing options around the house. But I found a nice tree just across the alley near a neighbor’s garage. The main branches split low and create two trunks. I started to climb up and about half way I heard something. I looked and a guy walking his dog was coming up the alley. I froze and hoped he couldn’t see me. Unfortunately there is a bright street light not too far from the tree and I was well lit. If it weren’t for his dog being so interested in the tree I think I would have gone unnoticed. But thankfully the guy just looked up at me in puzzlement and kept walking. I continued up to the top in stealth mode hoping that if he came back this way he wouldn’t see me at the top, nor that he would have he called the police.

All went well and I made it back to the ground without trouble.

DAY 987 12.16.09 – I went to the Waterfront Park by Tumbleweed as I always do on Wednesday evenings. It was dark and cold and no one seemed to be out and about. Workers had recently finished the spiraling ramp up to the old railroad bridge. I thought tonight would be the best to sneak under the fence and get to the top. I searched for an opening as Mark and Chase warmed up. Then we went for it. We crawled under the slightly angled section of fence, ran to the newly cemented steps and ran to shady cover. A section of the ramp had bails of hay then a section where the hay had been spread. The floor underneath seemed solid so we continued on. Then beyond the hay was just the steel girders and a strange corrugated aluminum floor.

There were no sides so we crouched and walked quickly on the steel section holding the steel safety cable. Soon we reached the top and the bridge. The old rotting rail ties were still there and made the bridge seem entirely too dangerous to walk on. I took out my camera and started to take just a couple shots

then Mark told me to “get down, shut up.” I lay on the cold rusty steel and Mark looks around. He said he saw some figures running to the ramp. The three of us stay still and silent and then see three figures coming up the ramp. I think we are totally caught. Then as we watch them approach us we notice that they seem quite small of stature. Then we soon realize they are a few teenagers doing the same thing we are doing. So we decide to go scare them. We start doing our crouch walk back and when we get within 30-40 feet they see us and just bolt back down the ramp. We scrambled back down ourselves, raced down the stairs and then crawled back under the fence. Clear!

Later, after Chase left, I was feeling emboldened and suggested Mark and I sneak onto the fenced off area on the other side of Tumbleweed where the new Condominiums are supposed to go in.

This time the fence was open and we just walked right in. I checked out some different trees and eventually chose a beech with some pretty nice damage up in the limbs. Mark followed me after I monkeyed in an overhanging limb. I got up to the top past a severely split limb and took a few pics. Mark stayed a little below and his hands have not adjusted to the freezing temperatures.

Then we went back down. Nice to have some company in the stealthy mission.

DAY 988 12.17.09 – I was doing a little Christmas shopping and went to Unique in Portland (KY). After finding nothing I walked down the street, over the pedestrian bridge over I-64 and down to a ball park. A couple nice old cars with HUGE wheels sat idle in the parking lots as I headed straight to a cottonwood. I had tried to climb this tree before in some recent summer but was prevented by the poison ivy. Now, in the winter, the ivy was gone and I was free to climb. It was a good challenge with the few new limb growth off the massive branches. I shimmied, reached and climbed using my best tricks. Then settled on one high limb with a view of the setting sun, the Interstate, and the park.

I love this time of year not only for the leafless clear view out from trees, but the new buds forming on the ends of the bare branches.

When I was finished shooting I climbed back down and walked back to Unique warmed and satisfied.

DAY 989 12.18.09 – The Christmas Party at Drew’s. I went early to help decorate. And I climbed a tree in the grassy median on Hite once again. Running out of options. It was a nasty rainy evening and I didn’t want to get that dirty and wet anyway so I guess it was good that I picked a small tree. I went up as high as I could, which wasn’t that high, took a few quick picks trying to keep my lens dry,

and then climbed down. I jumped and I guess I was further up than I thought because when I finally hit the ground it hurt.

Back at the party, the guests very slowly started to trickle in. I ingested a weird combination of food and eggnog and got a serious belly ache. The karaoke was a hit, especially with Garett, and the Ultimate Snowflake competition was not much a competition but I think people still enjoyed themselves. Unfortunately no one took pictures that night. Oh well.

DAY 990 12.19.09 – My brother and sister came home for an early Christmas this year. Amy and her family (Sean (husband), Mitchell (3 yr old) and Jason (5 month old)) came Friday night.

I picked up Scott in the afternoon and we were supposed to pick up his girlfriend, Julia, but she was horribly delayed and rerouted. So we had dinner back at the homestead and I climbed a tree. Another horribly dreary grey, rainy and cold day. I climbed a tiny little tree just off the back deck. I figured it might be fun for the family to watch, specifically my nephew Mitchell. So I positioned them at the sliding glass door and I went up the dirty wet limbs.

I stopped and took a few pictures of them. Mitchell couldn’t understand that he needed to look up to find me.

He finally gave up not understanding and my mom stayed behind. Not sure why she did because she says she hates to watch.

But there she was, staring up at me as if to be saying, “why does my son continue to do this dangerous activity?”

DAY 991 12.20.09 – The Smith Family Christmas.

With people going to church, kids napping, all the eating, and the long process of opening Christmas presents one at a time, I didn’t get to climbing till pretty late. I just went to the end of my parents’ street and climbed a Maple I had climbed before. It’s a fun climb and I got to the top. It was so dark out that night I didn’t get many good shots except this one of a car going by on Cedar Point Rd just under me.

DAY 992 12.21.09 – Another day with family. I went out with Scott and Julia to get the fixings for a big taco dinner. And of course I put my climb off till night. I didn’t want to go far so I thought I might be able to find a new tree in my parents’ front yard. I found this one big leaning tree that had a little tree growing right next to it. I went up the little one and when I got to the big one I realized it was dead and horribly dirty and slippery. I had to stop there just 15-20 feet above ground.

So disappointing. My face says it all.