I walked over to the neighbor’s house and mowed down his cat’s ears (which he calls dandelions) today. I used his riding mower (vroom! 😉 ) and it took me 90 minutes. He wrote me a check for $40, which was nice, and told me a few stories. He’s turning 85 years old next month, and he’s been around this part of the country his whole life. We were talking about Mt. St. Helens, and he started talking about how his father and grandfather were both loggers. I thought it was just a case of an old man getting distracted, so I let him tell his story, but it turned out that he did actually have a point connected to the mountain.

I guess back in the 20’s it was standard for the loggers to all get 2 weeks off over the 4th of July. So every year, the whole family would load up in the two cars and head out to Spirit Lake to go fishing for two weeks. It would take them two days to get from Dryad, Washington up to Spirit Lake in the Model T Ford and the old Chevrolet. The Chevrolet was the first model of car to have rolling windows in it. They would make it almost the whole way in the first day, but the second day was spent on puncheon roads for about 15 miles. That 15 miles would take all day. I had never heard of puncheon roads before, and he explained that it was a road bed made out of saplings about 4 or 5 inches in diameter and cut to about 10 feet long. Over 15 miles of that, and you were bound to get stuck several times. And the puncheons weren’t anchored at all, just laid on the roadbed, so as soon as you accidentally spun the tire a little bit, it would spit the puncheon out, and your wheel would be stuck down in the mud between the two adjoining puncheons. So you would have to jack the whole car up in order to get the puncheon back in there underneath the tire and be on your way again, until the next time you got stuck.

I ended up spending about an hour listening to his stories. He’s also super conservative, and has been a logger most of his life. He has Rush Limbaugh books on the mantle. When he got out of the service after World War 2, he sold his car for $1000 and went into the logging business and has worked for himself ever since. It was interesting to me that, during the course of our conversation he said something about how it’s too bad that we aren’t utilizing our own natural resources instead of buying them from other countries. I figured he meant that we should be cutting down more trees, but then he said, "Someday I suppose they’ll develop a useable alternative fuel, and then we won’t have to buy so much oil." And that led to a discussion of electric cars (Preston is planning to convert one), and solar power (Willard, the neighbor, started using solar powered radio towers for his crews back in the early 60’s). It was really encouraging to hear that even this ultra-conservative could see the need for alternative and sustainable fuels.

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