To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
An eternity in an hour. ~William Blake
Dad gets his hunting license not only for Westmoreland County, but also for the surrounding counties and his New York license. In certain areas, dad has his tree stands set up, keeping them there year-over-year. Yes, that wasn’t a typo. Tree stands! As in plural, meaning more than one.
So what does all this have to do with me? Let me tell you were I was this past weekend. In Cortland, New York moving a tree stand. Why? Simply, because last year, someone hit a big buck up the hill from where dad was sitting. Ever since then, dad has been talking about moving his tree stand up the hill. He believes it would have been his buck if he was positioned at a higher elevation. Is that a fact? Not necessarily, but I do trust dad’s hunting sense and his observation. Previous to that, Dad’s was actually talking about moving the tree stand for a while now, but since the buck incidence, that made up his mind for him.
Now don’t get me wrong. Dad’s not bitter in any way shape or form, for the lucky hunter, not at all. He’s happy for anyone who gets a deer, especially if it’s a prize. But he’s had it in his head for a while now to move the stand, pretty much where Larry, a good friend of the family and my mom’s boss at Gutchess Hardwoods, suggested in the first place. Dad said, “I should have listened to Larry, but I was being so stubborn and had my mind made up.” Can’t imagine!
Moving a tree stand seems simple enough, not really. First we had to drive six hours to Cortland, New York to get to the woods where the tree stand was situated. Then, we had to drive back into the woods, only so far, before all piling on the quad and riding it another couple of miles, before getting out and hiking to the hunting spot. Yes, somewhere in the 500 acres, was this big metal tree stand attached to a tree. Did I mention I was the one who had to assemble the beast a few summers back?
Let’s start off with Saturday morning. I mean morning. We got up around 3:00 am, and we didn’t leave until 4:30 am. There used to be a day when dad was up early and started on his day right away. No sitting around, none of this taking his time, watching the news, finishing his coffee blah blah blah. Nope! Dad used to get up, make sure everyone else was up, get dressed and out the door like lightening. Boy have times changed. Usually Kyle does pretty good in the am, but this time was a bit different, not that I can blame him, even for me this was a bit early.
Once we were off, Kyle slept in the backseat of the truck. He really wasn’t ready to get up and get moving, that is until we made a pit stop at Sheetz. Naturally, he had donuts on his mind and with his pappy there, he pretty much gets what he wants. Although as in keeping with tradition, I raced him in and out of the gas station, to and from the truck. At one point, we both tried to wedge ourselves out of the door and practically got stuck. Dad saw us and just shook his head and chuckled.
While on the road, once we finally got Kyle up, Kyle and I started to play a game of War. You know the card game that goes on forever and requires little to no thought. That game seemed like it was the longest ever played! Seriously. Me and Kyle were in amazement because it was never ending. We kept joking around that we were going to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
The drive was pretty uneventful. It’s actually kind of nice to be up before dawn and watching the day unfold before my eyes. We passed Beaver Stadium, my sister’s Alma Mater. We joked around a little and called my mom and my sister to check in. I was even fine with the Willy Nelson Serious XM radio station on, that is until it stayed on the entire time to and from New York.
Dad cracks me up. When he had to pee, he just pulled the truck, which was hooked to the trailer containing the quad, onto the side of the road, peed and left. Back in the day, when I was little, dad NEVER stopped for no one. Not himself, not my mom and certainly not for his kids. We had to go before we left and we learned to hold it until we got to our destination. Granted, we never really traveled for than four or five hours, but regardless that’s how dad traveled. Come to think of it, that’s probably why I am, the way I am, when traveling. I never stop, I keep going till I reach my journey’s end. Now-a-days things are different, very different. I swear we pulled over every hour! Every roadside pause gave me and Kyle the giggles. Then it would start the teasing towards dad.
At one point, Kyle had to use the restroom, as did I but I can hold it because I knew dad would expect me to go along side of the road. Fat chance! Dad pulled over for Kyle, but not just on the side of the road. He pulled over were they were doing construction. To reach the side of the road, dad had to weave the truck and the trailer between the cones. Me and Kyle were dying! For some reason we thought that was the funniest thing ever! Keep in mind this is around ten o’clock or so in the morning, along a major highway. I knew Kyle wouldn’t use natures facility, and I was right. But what made the situation even funnier, dad drove down the road that was coned off, and as we progressed the cones got closer together. We were taking bets if dad was going to knock down a row of cones. Nope! Didn’t even graze them!
After we checked into our motel room in no-man’s-land we headed to the woods. The minute we got out, I was attacked by mosquitoes! Anyone that knows me, knows I am always the first person to take fire from the blood suckers and I usually get it the worst. My bites always swell and linger for twice as long as most. Would you believe no one thought to bring bug spray? Nope! We were screwed!
After we unloaded the quad, dad had me plant my buttocks on the front rack, while Kyle was seated right behind dad, beside the chainsaw, tools, salt block and extra chainsaw gasoline. Yes, that was my first reaction too! What are we cutting down? The layout of us all situated on the quad was nothing new, we rode like that before for hunting season and I suspected it was going to be that way. But what I didn’t know is that we had to chuck wood too? Yes, apparently we had to clear out the roadway back to the tree stand. This just keeps getting better!
The ride to and fro was quite an adventure! We hit a few pond size mud puddles, which at one point I thought was going to sink us all whole. Then, let’s talk about the cliff of death. The trail was pretty wide, wide enough for a full size vehicle. So naturally one would think we had enough room for a quad. Well, we did, but dad kept driving along side the brim of the edge, while looking down! Me and Kyle were hanging on. I stated, “Dad, they had a ton of rain this week. You have the entire road, use it!” Meaning, dad get away from the edge, the ground is soft and could collapse at any minute driving us down over the edge into the heart of the woods. Even Kyle laughed about that one and was feeling the same way. When we later recapped the story to mom, Kyle commented on that very scenario.
We did need to hack up a few logs laying across our path, to get through and I had to get off a few times to walk. I must say it was quite the journey. The one part of the road seemed like it was a complete vertical shot straight down and the road looked like a miniature Grand Canyon from being washed out. I was hanging on, trying not to be projected off from the front end. It was hard! The road wasn’t exactly smooth sailing.
Once dad had me and Kyle on foot, he instructed us to walk up the hill and he followed on the quad. He even tried to go up a side of a bank and I swear I saw the front end of the quad lift, like it was going to flip. Me and Kyle just gave each other the look, you know the kind that says, ‘Wow that was a close one.’ or ‘Something bad is going to happen today.’ Then I said, “And you wondered why I brought my phone?”
While on foot, in the hot, humid mosquitoes infested deep woods, we seemed to keep walking on forever. Like our path was never going to end. Kyle turned to me and said, “I don’t think pappy knows where he’s going.” I laughed so hard, I was thinking the same thing! We kept trucking and following dad on foot. Did I mention I had a long-sleeved thick hoodie type of top on, zipped up to my neck to protect some of my skin from the pests, and jeans on while I dripped with sweat in the eighty degree weather? Awesome!
As we zigzagged through the tall brush, dad would stop every now-and-again to cut a few fallen trees. That is until we came upon vertically intimidating, reaching the top of dad’s head, “jagger” bushes, briars and thick brush. He actually used the chainsaw to mow down the obstruction! Me and Kyle watched in amazement. Then, when he was done, I yelled over, “You didn’t tell me we needed the weed whacker!” Dad gave me an already tired grin and nod, while me and Kyle found that comment to be pretty darn funny.
Dad even used the quad to knock down small trees and mow down tall brush. Then, we started to have a field day with that saying, “Does pappy think he’s a bulldozer?” and “We know what to get him for Christmas.” Kyle said, “Ya, he could use a steam press to flatten our path.” Very true buddy! Very true!
To be continued…