I remember Christmas growing up in Fort McMurray. We would all bundle up, drive out to the bush, and pick out a Christmas tree to cut down and bring home. My mom hated it because the trees were thin and often had empty spots. She called them the “puka tree,” puka being Hawaiian for hole. But we kids loved it, we loved going out with our dad who was often working shift work at the plant and picking out what we wanted. The tree made the house smell so good too.

This year I was determined to cut down a Christmas tree. A quick visit to the ESRD website and I found out that not only is permit only $5 (for up to three trees!) but the areas you can cut were only an hour away from us. Game on!

My family was not stoked about the excursion, Ryan thought it was a waste of time and gas and my step kids had never done it before and thought it sounded boring. The hour drive was filled with complaints from all three of them! But at last we arrived at the Mill Creek area of Castle Special Management Area and pulled over to begin the tree hunt.

Within minutes everyone was having a blast! The snow had a crust over it so the kids could slide around on top and the dogs were running around and sniffing things like crazy.


And Ryan was enjoying watching all of them frolic.


I was impressed by the beautiful views and of course, feel my best when I’m in the mountains. I played with the kids and dogs and snapped away at the fun they were all having.

Gorgeous views
Gorgeous views

After eating a light lunch in the snow, we got down to tree hunting. There wasn’t a lot in the spot we chose and I would have liked to drive to another place but we were on a time schedule. We found one that worked for me, it was ‘puka’ on one side but we decided if we faced that side to the wall we would be good to go.

Sawing down our tree
Sawing down our tree
Our 2014 christmas tree
Our 2014 christmas tree

After we cut down our tree, Ryan and Ace cut down a mini tree for their room.

On our way home we pulled over at the Pincher Creek to let the dogs get a drink and to play for just awhile longer.

On the way home everyone agreed that it was a ton of fun and they want to not only do it again next year, but want to explore the Castle area some more in the summer. I want to take the kids to this same spot in the spring so we can plant seedlings to make up for the trees we cut, a great way to teach them about conservation and build their love for the outdoors.

Here is the final product. A wonderfully simple tree that smells delightful.


5 thoughts on “Oh Christmas Tree!

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