Thursday, June 2, 2011

Logs I

If you've ever made the drive from Portland to the coast on Highway 26, chances are you've noticed Camp 18. The grounds include an outdoor logging museum, a restaurant housed in a massive log building, and a newish logger's memorial. Going to Camp 18 is a favorite tradition in Shaun's family, as it's only about a 20 minute drive from the tree farm.

In the past few years, Camp 18 has started holding an annual service (for loggers whose names had been added to the memorial that year) and logging competition.

Well, this past year Shaun's mom wrote a lovely write-up of Shaun's Grandpa Chick's life and found a nice picture to go with it, and it is now hanging in the memorial. (Look for R. N. "Chick" Jensen.) And when Shaun's folks invited us to the big event, we were excited to go.

In my fervent prayers for no rain, I had neglected to consider the need for sunscreen. It was one of those overcast days that gives you a stealth sunburn. We mystified all of our friends at church the next day with our ruddy glow, as it had apparently rained all day in Camas. I felt like a terrible mom allowing Willem to get his first real sunburn, but I guess one every five years isn't too bad.

The competitors were made up of professional logging crews and high school forestry club students. I didn't know there was such a thing as forestry clubs. It's like 4-H, but with logging instead of farming. Apart from the climbing, I think I might have enjoyed something like that when I was in high school. It sure would have beat marching band.

A word on the crowd: The event was well-attended, but it wasn't really a spectator deal. Almost everyone there was obviously in the industry in some way. Everyone knew each other, and, if they didn't, they felt like they should. It was really fun to sneak into that community and get a first-hand look.

When we first arrived and I saw everyone in their logging gear, I was bummed that I hadn't thought of dressing the boys in their hickory shirts. But after hanging around the families of the real loggers for a while, I was glad I hadn't. Nobody likes a poser. Which doesn't mean that we won't happily have the boys wear the shirts in other less "professional" settings. After all, Grandpa rightfully wears one (as did Great Grandpa Chick), and we are very proud of the family's logging heritage.

Here things are getting underway; we're singing the national anthem as they run the flag up the spar tree.

After a short talk from a pastor who managed to find a logging passage in the Bible (!), the names of the loggers who'd been added to the memorial that year were read. The man doing the announcing choked up several times when he reached the names of friends, particularly those who'd died in accidents. His emotional extemporaneous remarks had me wishing I'd brought a tissue. At the end of the list, the signal whistle was sounded.

"One long and one short," said the man. He struggled over the end of the next sentence. "That's the signal for quittin' time."


A big aim of the day was to raise money to keep the memorial building open and running. So all of the professional crews were "auctioned" off, with the highest bidder winning a percentage of the prize purse if "his" team won the competition. Most of the teams sold for $400-$800, which I thought was impressive. We had to keep swatting Willem's hand down, as he got pretty enthused over the proceedings.

Auction in progress.

You may recognize some of these guys if you've watched the show "Ax Men."

Ax Men on the block.

Here's the field of competitors getting their instructions. The high school kids did all the same things the pros did. One thing Shaun noticed is that there were no barriers anywhere. Folks were trusted to keep a safe distance and not to crowd the competitors or mess with the equipment. We appreciated the opportunity to see everything up close.

Let the games begin!

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