A Thanksgiving Adventure to Find a Christmas tree in the Gila

This is the third year in a row we have scouted our own wild Christmas tree in the National Forest, and we got to share it with Nan and Grandpa Joe!

For Thanksgiving weekend I found an awesome Air BnB up in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. It was a 4 bedroom mansion of a log ‘cabin’ with two huge suites and an big kitchen, dining, and living space, not to mention a plethora of great outdoor spaces. Bonus: there was no TV.

Avi picked the larger of the two rooms available for kiddos, while Zoe opted for a tiny space that felt more like an office. She loved the coziness.

We spent three nights, and countless hours of quality time playing a game we discovered on the shelf called “Dread Pirate”.

Nan and I pre-planned the food for Thanksgiving, made a few things like pies ahead but planned to do most of the cooking on Thanksgiving day at the rental. Nature threw a beautiful wrench in those plans with a gorgeous snow storm that knocked out the power.

Bryan jumped into action starting a fire in the fireplace and getting us situated with fresh snow melt water saved in the bathtubs. Avi enjoyed being in charge of those water buckets. Luckily, nothing was really going to go bad, so we spent the morning not worrying about it, playing some games, reading, and enjoying the snow.

Just when mom and I were attempting to figure out how to roast all the food on the gas stove (like, we cut the turkey to bits), the power returned. So, Thanksgiving resumed; we cooked, we ate, we enjoyed the time together!

The Friday following Thanksgiving was our big tree hunting day! On the way to the Gila on Wednesday, we stopped in at the Gila National Forest office in Silver City to get our Christmas tree permits for $5 each. Quite a cost savings, compared to box store trees… and they are drought tolerant, so they seem to last forever without dropping needles.

We drove to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument; Nan and Pajoe had never been. It was soaked! I’ve only been here when its dry and difficult to imagine native american people carving a living out of this desert. Well, the entire canyon was covered in flowing waterfalls! It was super wet, kinda cold, but really really cool.

On to the finding the tree!! Back up over the ridges to our cabin we passed through another snow squall, but pressed with our tree-finding goal. Pajoe drove the truck a short way back a dirt road we scoped out on the way over, and we all tumbled into the snow.

At first it seemed there weren’t many fir trees in this area, but then we started to spot them better tucked up under scrub oaks or in clusters of their own.

Nan and Pajoe found one first; a nice skinny one for their small living room. Pajoe used our small handsaw to make quick work of cutting it down and tagging it.

It took our family a bit longer; four opinions need to be considered. We found a few that we liked, but weren’t quite perfect… trees to ‘keep in mind’ while we continued to look in the heavily falling snow. Nan and Pajoe called to us that they found a stand of options, and along the way I spotted one that may work. We returned to it after looking at the stand, and after all the snow fell off it was pretty amazing!

A quick vote of hands, and this tree was being cut down for our Christmas.

We tossed the trees in the bed of the truck and Pajoe slowly, carefully made his way out to the paved road and down the hill. This is a forest service route that doesn’t have fancy things like guardrails for the huge drop-offs hiding in the snow flurries.

Along the way we passed a guy whose car wasn’t making it up the road, and kept sliding when he tried to go back down. We offered a ride back down, but he was adamant that he needed to get up and over. So, he opted to stay.

We were soon back in our comfy warm mansion cabin playing games and reading. It was the most peaceful, relaxing Thanksgiving I’ve ever had, and I loved that the kids got super quality time with Nan and Pajoe.

At home, we got that precious tree decorated before the weekend was over… bring on the Christmas chaos!

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