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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lightning Strikes Once, Trees Strike Twice

You see it on the news in stormy weather all the time. The ground gets saturated, trees uproot, winds blow and trees topple. Of course, trees don't care where they fall and sometimes they cause major havoc on whatever they land. So last weekend this scene greeted me out my front window as I awoke on Saturday morning.

This tree actually stood in my neighbor's yard directly across the street. The driveway on the right side of the photo is mine. I live in a really cool older neighborhood of 260 homes called Rolling Woods that sits between Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley. Rolling Woods is aptly named after the many mature pines, eucalyptus and fir trees that define our neighborhood. However, our soil is really sandy because we are so close to the ocean and sometimes it just cannot support the weight of the huge trees when it is both wet and windy. This next shot shows where one half of the tree decided to part ways with the other so you can see the substantial size of the trunks.

The only thing that kept the fallen tree from completely reaching the ground was the top of it landed on my old oak tree. My tree suffered damaged but was proudly still standing after the carnage. The tree also took down the high voltage wires which meant about 100 homes went completely dark.

This one fallen tree kept our street closed for over twenty hours.

I was able to hack off a few protruding branches and clear a path for my car. This shot shows the huge size of the tree next to my Volkswagen Tiguan.

After an exhilarating testosterone release with my chainsaw I posed for this shot. Note: I'm NOT actually holding the tree up but I was feeling a bit cocky having knocked off a few substantial branches. :-)

By 7:00 p.m. PG&E and Davey Tree arrived to undo the mess. They were, of course, nearly overwhelmed by so many other storm related incidents. By very early Sunday morning our nearly 24 hour power outage had ended.

So that WOULD have been the end of the story until a couple of days later when it was time for another episode of Me vs. Tree. Perhaps it was my karma or the vigor with which I attacked the tree with my chainsaw but tree revenge struck back quickly. I was minding my own business and just driving home from Capitola at the speed limit along La Madrona Road. La Madrona is a frontage road adjacent to Highway 17. It is full of trees and vegetation on both sides of the road to the point where it almost resembles a tunnel in spots.

Out of the corner of my eye I see a tree ahead of me starting to fall from the left side of the road. I was forced to make a split second decision to stop or go. I opted to speed up and beat the tree down. Although I still stick to my decision to go I wasn't able to completely out run the tree. Trees are so normally immobile that I just realized the absurdity of discussing out running them. However, there was nothing humorous when it crashed on the roof of my car. My fast forward momentum and the rack rail on my roof was all that kept the tree from completely crushing my sunroof. I wonder how the driver of the car behind me felt when I instantly disappeared and he was suddenly face-to-face with this wall of tree. This photo shows how incredibly dense the massive trunk, branches and leaves were. There is absolutely no sign of a passable road.

These two pictures really tell the story. The size of the trunk means nothing if the ground can no longer support the weight. It is truly a recipe for disaster.

I returned to the scene of the crime the following day with my chainsaw for some retribution on Tree Two.

Of course, by that time the professional tree surgeons of Davey Tree Company had done all of the serious lifting, cutting and dismembering.

Yes, you can certainly call me lucky. My car escaped without serious damage. Tree Two was a much closer call than the battle with the one at home. Nonetheless lacking for spirit I once again declared victory over the trees.

The take away lesson here is to care for your trees and consult with a professional arborist if you sense the stability is in question. Luckily for me no limbs (of mine anyway) were harmed in the making of this story.


  1. Very glad you and yours were not harmed amidst the falling trees. The chainsaw revenge pictures are funny. Glad you were able to keep smiling during what must have been very trying situations. Stay safe!

  2. I love your writing style... are you sure you should be cooking?