Fresh-Eyed America: A Day With My Uncle In OregonPosted on May 13, 2012 | 2 comments
Last fall, a group of young travelers made their way around the United States on the Mama Bus. I asked each of them to write a guest post for us about their most memorable moments. This post is from 16-year old Jeremiah Wood.
The sun sent its first streaks of light early over the green mountains that surround my Uncle’s run down farm. My brother Jonathan, my Uncle and I ate a quickly ate our omelets made from Auntie’s fresh eggs, and then jumped in the truck and headed for the mountains. It was a two hour drive along dusty single lane roads, we were going to a logging site to see the machinery and learn about logging.
My Uncle is an interesting character, has been a logger all his life and is a walking talking fact book on the subject. He goes nowhere without his rat (ahem I mean his Dachshund) Molly, he drives a truck that runs most of the time, he has a heart of gold, and… well he’s kind of a redneck.
Jack, our guide to the site was waiting for us in his pickup as we turned onto Bear Camp road. Bear Camp road runs over the Klamath Mountains and is extremely dangerous during the winter, and must be driven with care even in the summer when we drove it. Multiple people have been stranded for days or even weeks before being found.
We came around a bend in the road and suddenly the sun finished rising over the mountains and lit up the earth. It was as if someone flipped a light switch in a dark room, you could almost hear the trees yawning as they woke up and reached for the sky, the same way they have been for hundreds of years.
The dust billowed up from the truck ahead of us; my Uncle slowed down to a near stop and drove the truck forward carefully. It was impossible to see through the dust and it took minutes for it to settle again so you just slow down and keep driving, very, very carefully. We traveled this way for two hours; we would slowly drive through the dust cloud, and when we got through it Jack would be there waiting for us and then we’d do it again, and again, and again.
My Uncle pointed out mountains, past logging sites, and where forest fires had swept through years before, and occasionally muttered something about the air conditioner blowing the dust inside the cab.
We finally reached the site where six men were hard at work, three at the bottom, and three at the top. Logging on hills and mountains is very difficult, so there is a lot of specialized equipment to help.
At the top of the hill there is a machine called a “Yarder” it’s similar to a crane, but it has a more complicated pulley system. The way it works is that a steel cable is attached to the top of the yarder (which is placed uphill of the area being logged) and runs downwards where it is attached to a tree, backhoe, bulldozer, or large pickup truck.
Then a pulley runs up and down on the cable, the workers below attach the logs to the pulley and then signal for the operator to pull the logs up. When the logs reach the top they are disconnected from the pulley and loaded on trucks.
My Uncle taught me about the individual responsibilities of each person, and pointed out who was doing their job correctly (and incorrectly). One particular mistake caused a $500 log to be snapped in half (my Uncle wasn’t happy about that one). After a few hours at the logging site we kept going down Bear Camp Road and went out to lunch at a little place overlooking the Rouge River.
On the way home I looked out across the beautiful, rugged mountains of Oregon and thought about how lucky I am, to be on this trip, to have great friends, and great family joining us on it, shaping it, and adding their own little part.
Thanks to Jeremiah for such a thoughtful, well-written piece. Family and Travel: A great combination.
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