Sunday, June 22, 2008

Of Kids and Loggers...and Rodeos!

For those of you who do not know, the small town that we live in is nestled in the foothills of Mt. Rainier, and has a heritage that is deeply involved with logging. Because I do not want to get all political on you, let me just say that while I am saddened that the profession of logging is near extinct, I am also glad that the forests are not being eradicated as quickly as they used to, and that my son will not be tempted to work in one of the most dangerous lines of work, other than crab/deep sea fishing: logging. Some of you may watch the reality show on the History Channel called "Ax Men," and if you do, you will know why I want Eric to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or an engineer, or....whatever! Ambivalence aside, the lack of available logging jobs has caused a major change in the way of life for many of the local families and businesses around here, and that is never matter what my thoughts on logging may be!
OK, back to the story at hand. Our town puts on an annual "loggers rodeo," that is very entertaining, and it has done so for the past 35 years. Next week is the actual rodeo, and it has several events that range from climbing and cutting competitions, to log rolling and relays. An all around logger is picked at the end, based on his scores in several of the events. My brother-in-law, Brad (Amber's husband), has held this esteemed title, and Trailblazer Martha's husband and son also compete.
Yesterday was the Jr. Logger's Rodeo, and my son actually competed in the events that were held for his age group...thanks Brad!!! Now Eric wants to be a logger again:) Eric got first place in choker setting and the ax toss, in the eight year old division, but did not place in the obstacle bucking. I was a bad mom and missed the first two events, but was able to catch the last one. (Sidenote: Choker setting involves placing a large cable around a log and hooking/clasping it onto the log. Loggers use this technique to hook onto and drag the fallen logs up a hillside to their tower and waiting log trucks.) His daddy was really proud of him, because he used to be a choker setter, waaaaaayyyyy back when he used to log. Yes, I am married to an ex-logger! Shocking, I know!
When I finally decided to haul my tired hiney out of bed, take a shower, eat breakfast...I headed to the rodeo grounds, and this is what I saw: Eric sitting complacently upon a five foot log. If you click on, and enlarge the photo, you can see his "I'm to cool to say 'hi' to my mom," look.
Eric likes when he hangs out with "the guys," doing things like wood cutting and hunting--hunting opens up a whole other can of worms with me, but I will discuss that when it is hunting season!!!--because he can wear the clothes that I will not allow him to wear to school, or when he is out with me...I'm kinda snobbish that way:) Here he is right after he received his trophy for the ax toss. He has never tossed an ax, but he does archery and plays sports, so I think he did so well because of the whole "hand-eye coordination" thing...something that I struggle with (lol!).
This is a picture of Eric competing in the obstacle bucking event. Before you call CPS on me, just know that he is holding a plastic chainsaw, not a real one!!! Next week, the BIG boys will do this event while running, and their chainsaws are real and turned on
"What are these stripped poles, and why did I take a picture of them?" you may ask. They are two 75 foot trees, that the loggers climb in a timed competition, as quickly, and as safely, as they can. The kids at the Jr. rodeo do NOT climb to the top, and they are not really kids; they are teenagers. This is the most dangerous event at the rodeo, and it is probably one of the toughest. The guys wear special boots with spikes in them--they allow them to dig into the tree--and they use a rope that is looped around the log, as an extension of their arms. The real danger of tree climbing is on the way down, because if there looped rope falls below their feet--something that can easily happen--the climber can flip over backwards and fall to their death. Of course, at the Jr. rodeo, the kids are also tethered to ropes that are being held by REALLY strong, and experienced, loggers.
See, here is some poor kid hanging on for dear life...I mean resting, on his way up. You can enlarge this photo to see how he is hanging...I mean climbing, up the tree.Go boy! Go! There is also one girl who competes in the log climbing. You go girl! I once put on my brother-in-law, Brad's, climbing gear, and huffed and puffed my way--about 15 feet up--a tree. It is NOT easy, and it is scary on the way down...especially when Brad yells, "You have to listen and do exactly what I say or you will break your neck!" Thanks Brad! Maybe you should have told me that BEFORE I climbed the tree!!!
Lastly, there is/was a log roll competition. The log roll is self explanatory, but let me tell you that the water was freezing cold--it had just been filled that morning by my husband and the other volunteer firefighters--and that the sun was NOT shining. Poor kids! You can see Eric longingly gazing at the log. He is the second kid on the left...the one with the red shirt and camo hat. He was not allowed to compete in this event, because the kids have to be at least nine. I told him that he should have lied about his age!Once the log roll was done, the announcer told all of the kids that they could jump into the pool. Here is Eric after he got out and realized that we did not have a towel, or a change of clothes, for him! Thank goodness we live like one minute away...if that.Here the little champion is at home. I said, "Let me take a picture of you with both of your trophies, Eric," because I felt guilty about missing him compete:(After next weekend, I will post some pictures of the official logger's rodeo, so stay tuned.


Fish Assassin said...

Cool! I have a Google Alert monitoring my book I recently wrote. "Knutson" is one of the words searched. My name is Steve Knutson and I live a bit north of you. Kenai, Alaska. I used to live in WA, Oly Town, Gig Harbor and Warden. I can see by the pictures a good time was had by all. I envy you!

The Knutson's said...

Fish Assassin-Hello fellow Knutson! What kind of book did you write...I am assuming that it has something to do with the outdoors, due to your location and your screen name.

Pony Girl said...

Hi there- YEP, it looks like that was the same trail challenge! Actually, I remember people shouting "Go Martha" during her go at the course. How cool you almost went. What a small world! ;) I really enjoyed the feel of the event. It was very low-key, almost a playday, and not overly competitive. But it definitely got me thinking this is something I could enjoy. I'm just not into the Eq & West. Pleasure thing anymore.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Pony Girl said...

One more thing, which horse was Martha's Curly??

The Knutson's said...

Pony Girl- I left a response over at your blog about Curly:)

Angie Penrose said...

You guys are so cool! Way to go Eric!!