The day after Thanksgiving, as is tradition, we headed out into the Black Hills to hunt for our Christmas tree.
It took a little longer than usual because we had to go the opposite direction to the Forest Service office to get this card for our fourth grader, Evie, which gives her (and her family!) free entrance into any US park. But also, as was the point, we could get a free Christmas tree permit. Hey, it saved us $10! And now we'll be able to go back to the Badlands for free again too.
Forty five minutes later we finally arrived at our hunting grounds. We had coordinated to meet Nathan and Ana up there, but since we had to go so far out of our way and because their kids are so little, they were already past done and had to leave ASAP. Ana, I won't post your talk-to-the-hand picture. Ha!
Ana marched to their van to feed the cranky kids and Nathan hung back, unsure of what to do. He made the right call and went and helped Ana. They were long gone by the time we started loading up.
Crossing the highway first for a change of pace.
Perhaps this one? Garn...Noah!
Hiking through the trees. This is my favorite part of the day! I just love it out there.
No snow this year, or even ice, and pretty warm out.
Evie sat on every rock she came to.
The other kids joined her on the decent sized boulder.
A little closer.
Walking through the beautiful sun!
Yet another rock.
The older kids wandered up onto the Rock Maze rocks
Ezzie liked to sit in the grass near us.
These are the rocks that you park by at the Rock Mazes. Just enough for our four kids.
We crossed the road and walked over to the Steamboat Rock picnic area and found more rocks and what looked like an old road beyond them.
Terry was drawn to a tree just the steep creek bank.
Evie and the littles were creeping along behind me in the tall grass.
We were right next to the highway.
Further down the hill he went...
Ezra went back to roll in the grass with his saw. Ha!
We found it! It was growing out of a rock right near the edge of the creek. We had to climb down the steep bank and then through a thick bramble of bushes but it was worth it. It was a very healthy tree (I always feel bad cutting them down) with a thick trunk, the thickest we've ever had, and pretty full! We seem to think that every year we've found the best one yet.
Chopping her down.
Helping Samuel is saw.
Ezra climbed back up the bank with Terry and the tree while me and the others followed the creek down to that green bridge in the distance.
Hop scotching across the rocks to join daddy on the road.
You can see Noah, Ezra, and Terry with the tree through the sun beams on the right.
Me, Evie, and Samuel struggled to find our way to the bridge on the opposite side of the creek. Zooming in you can see Ezra's red coat on the bridge and Terry at the street sign.
We had to climb up another steep bank but we finally made it back to the Envoy. Oh and I just realized that this was Luna's first year tree hunting! Last year was Snap's last time out because he died just before Christmas came.
I always make the kids turn around. Luna is so cute!
The kids threw rocks while Terry tied the tree down to the roof of the Envoy and then I lined the kids up for another picture. Ezra was crying because his eye hurt. See him pointing at it? Awww. And then look at Evie's funny hair. She had taken a shower before we left and put her hat on pretty soon afterwards thereby making her bangs all fuzzy. Ha!
Kids and a tree.
Mommy and daddy and a tree.
And the annual kiss! Terry thought he'd change it up a bit while picking me up.
Very tall tree.
Lighting it up!
Beautiful tree and cute kids. It was a great day.