Sweet Home to DC: The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree journey
A Modern Day Adventure on the Historic Oregon Trail
Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in the western Cascade mountain range. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog.
To read previous entries, visit https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.
For more information, visit the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website, www.capitolchristmastree.com, and story map: https://arcg.is/10DOyv
Track the tree! Follow the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree on its Return to the Oregon Trail journey in near real-time, at www.trackthetree.com.
November 18th, 2018
Season’s greetings and holiday cheer on the Great Plains
What a beautiful day! Blue skies and incredible scenery pass our windows as our modern-day wagon train rolls by.
High prairie grasslands, golden in the sun, and the most incredible rock formations I have ever seen are dusted with the snow from yesterday’s storm.
Oh, what a difference a day makes!
This morning, we stopped at the Historic Territorial Prison in Laramie, Wyoming.
This beautiful state park was a prison in the late 1800’s and helped to maintain law and order during the wild, wild, west. It was used to lock up notorious outlaws, such as Butch Cassidy.
The site now offers historic buildings, museum exhibits, a gift shop, and today, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.
Quite a few people came out to sign the banner, have photos taken with Smokey Bear, and to wish the tree team well on our way to Washington D.C.
Our next stop was 147 miles away. We said “farewell” to Wyoming and “hello” to Nebraska with a stop in Scottsbluff, Neb.
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree team stops for a photo while cleaning road grime from the truck during a stop in Scottsbluff, Neb. before continuing to Scotts Bluff National Monument Nov. 18, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.
The first thing we did upon arriving was to wash the truck, trailer, and all of the support vehicles. The storm had left all of the vehicles coated in icy, sandy, grime!
Once everything was sparkly-clean, we drove up to Scotts Bluff National Monument for a photo shoot.
Here’s the view from my window as we drove past the bluffs.
What a beautiful area!
Big, reddish colored rocks rising like giant castles seemingly touch the sky, above the golden plains.
It’s incredible to think about the half-million travelers on the Oregon trail who marveled at the exact geologic formations I stood marveling at, 175 years later.
Some things change, and some things stay the same.
This evening, the City of Scottsbluff hosted a wonderful nighttime parade, with several thousand spectators in attendance.
The mayors of Scottsbluff and Gering, Neb. also proclaimed November 18th, 2018 as “U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Day.”
The cities of Scottsbluff and Gering declared “U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Day” as the tree stopped by for a whistle stop event during it’s “Return to the Oregon Trail” tour across the U.S. en route from Sweet Home, Ore. to Washington D.C. Nov. 18, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.
A proclamation declaring “U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Day” in Scottsbluff and Gering, Neb. Nov. 18, 2018. The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree “Return to the Oregon Trail” tour left Laramie, Wyo. and continued to Scotts Bluff National Monument and Scottsbluff, Neb. en route to the U.S. Capitol Nov. 18, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.
When the tree stopped at the end of the parade, everyone converged on the tree, eager to sign it and to see the noble fir and the beautiful, handcrafted ornaments.
Once again, the atmosphere was joyful and full of peace and good will. I have never in my life experienced 30 days of joy, in a row. This tree has shown me that there is still joy in the world even though it can sometimes be hard to find around us. It is there, just under the surface, waiting to emerge if given the opportunity.
The city of Scottsbluff, Neb. hosted a nighttime Christmas parade Nov. 18. 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.
I, for one will be looking for the hidden joy every where I go from here on out. I think I might be addicted to joy now. I’m ruined forever, in the best possible way.
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest
PS: Check out this aerial footage of our U.S. Capitol Christmas tree “modern-day wagon train” as it travels through Scotts Bluff National Monument, courtesy of Andrew Smith at Adventure Photograpy.