It’s Christmas Eve and I have a lot to be thankful for. Even though back home in Wisconsin I’m lamenting the fact that there’s not a flake of snow on the ground and it’s unseasonably warm for a late December day in North America, there is still so much joy in the world. After many long months of travel I’ve seen a lot of our great nation. Following the path of the United States Capitol Christmas Tree I connected with some truly wonderful folks from one end of our great country to another. Despite all the partisan wrangling that has divided us along political lines and has resulted in a shutting down of the Federal Government I am very happy to have witnessed a bit of what brings us together as a people. For more than a month I met and photographed literally thousands of my fellow citizens as they came out to celebrate and share the holiday spirit.
I am especially grateful to my friends co-workers on the Choose Outdoors team, Bruce Ward, Maureen McElroy, Sara von Feldt, Olivia Tinney and Jodi Massey. Through their creativity and organizational skills they put together this wonderful tour that brought joy and happiness to communities large and small from coast to coast. Along our journey worked in cooperation with the dedicated professionals of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service led by Willamette National Forest District Ranger Nikki Swanson. Her team included Ron Feist, Tim Lahey, Joanie Schmidgall, Scott Own, Suzanne Schindler, Molly Juillerat, Stefanie Gatchell, Aaron McDowell and Jared Richey. Working early mornings, long days and late nights we were under the constant protection of law enforcement officers led by Greg Moore that included Fred Perl, Regan Elvers and Bobby Phillips. And the tree itself was transported with the generous resources of the Central Oregon Trucking Company and driven by the company’s CEO Rick Williams along with Brad Aimone, Phil Taylor, Luke Williams, Laurie Wachoski and several other professional truckers who took a turn at the wheel.
The harvest, transportation and delivery of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is made possible also thanks to the support of more than 60 corporate sponsors. The Kenworth Truck Company and our title sponsor The Papé Group provided the heavy equipment we needed to get the job done. Other sponsors that gave both cash and in-kind contributions included Alaska Airlines, Cascade Timber Consulting, Inc., Freres Lumber Co. Inc.,Great West Casualty Company, Hale Trailer, Husqvarna, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Meritor, National Press Club, Oregon State Society, The Papé Group, Silver Mountain Christmas Trees, SkyBitz, Truckload Carriers Association and VanDoIt.
So as a gift on this Christmas Eve I’ve put together an album of my 50 Favorite images from the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Tour. Of more than an a thousand photographs that posted to our Facebook and Instagram accounts these are the ones that best tell the story of our incredible journey. Many include the smiling faces of those who excitement and enthusiasm left a lasting impression that made the trip all the more enjoyable. If you followed along, either online or while we were on the road I hope you’ll share your memories of this wonderful experience from the Willamette National Forest near the town of Sweet Home, Oregon all the way to our Nation’s Capitol in Washington D.C.