Monday, November 24, 2014

A walk in the woods

Blackhawk chapter of WWOA and Walnut Council Field Day


(I would like to thank Carol Nielsen for many of the photos included in this article. Click on any image to open a larger view.) 


It was a brisk Saturday morning in October 2014. The Walnut Council; Wisconsin Chapter and  the WWOA (Wisconsin Woodland Owner's Association); Blackhawk chapter held a joint field day near Waterloo Wisconsin on the farm of, and hosted by, the Weiland family.

This is the first time I've attended one of these field days. All the stars were aligned, you might say.  I wish I could've seen this 20 years ago when we first started planting trees on a large scale [more information on my re-forestation experience]. I had a great time and came away with a ton of new ideas and techniques (and reinforcement of some 'old').

The day started with some warm coffee and a lot of people meeting and greeting each other. Since I was new and didn't really know anyone else (and I am very shy) I was happy to watch and take it all in.

Finally we all sat down for a brief business meeting which was mainly about the two groups welcoming members of both groups and saying how we should do this more often (at least that's what I heard - my hearing isn't the best and I was sitting towards the rear - yes that was dumb).


Bob Weiland

Luckily for me, our host had a strong voice so I could understand him as he gave us some background of his plantation and introduced the program for the rest of the day:
  • Pruning demonstration
  • Portable saw-mill demonstration - cutting fenceposts from Locust logs. 
  • Goats as a management tool to control invasive species.
  • Lunch:  a goat soup was provided as a demonstration - to supplement our sack lunches (it was good).
  • Tour mixed hardwood/softwood stand planted in 1998-99
  • Tour mixed hardwood/softwood stand planted in 2006

Pruning demonstration 

Notice the vine-covered 'bush'
in the foreground.

This tree farm is about the same vintage as mine so many of the issues discussed were very relevant to me.  The first item on the agenda involved pruning walnut trees. I just completed the second round of pruning in 5 acres of walnuts that were the first trees that we planted in the early 90's. Most of these are now pruned as high as I can reach with a chainsaw; from the ground.  It is recommended that you prune walnuts up to 16 feet - for two sawlogs.  I have been wondering how I will do the next pruning.

Here is how they solved this problem. A Brownie self-propelled, single person, man-lift.

When compared to the alternatives for pruning high branches, this unit provides:
  • ease of use (compared to pole saws which are hard on the body)
  • far more accurate cuts because the cut is right in front of you even 16 feet above the ground.
  • single user; the lift is completely controlled by the person in the 'bucket' and it is compact enough to easily maneuver between tree rows - as long as the hills are not too steep or snow too deep.
This device was the hit of the morning for most of those gathered. Bob explained how he had found this unit used, on ebay and had it shipped up from Illinois.  If not for this fortunate find, the price would have been prohibitive for a single grower to absorb. Perhaps a group like the Walnut Council could purchase one for it's members.  But how would you manage such a thing? Nobody knew.


The Locust logs were cut from a mature woodlot area on the farm. Black Locust makes great fence posts because it is strong and very  resistant to decay. It is said that if you want to know when you will need to replace a Black Locust fence post, just set a rock on top each post. When the rock has weathered away, it's time to replace the post.

I've seen many sawmills in operation and this was a nice unit and fun to watch. It wasn't he highlight of the day for me.


Cucumber vine takes over
One of the areas on the farm has defied forestation attempts. Plantings have failed due to overgrowth by invasive species. The cucumber vine has been a real problem in one low area (see also picture of 'Brownie lift' above).  Attempts to control this vine have included the use of herbicides, mowing (a special sprayer/mower was built just for vine control), etc. So far the vines have proven to be too durable.

Hungry goats to the rescue
They have discovered that goats love cucumber vine. So they plan to fence in the area where the vines are a problem and let the goats do their thing.

The goats also provide alternate sources of income for this working farm: milk, cheese and meat.  During lunch break our hosts offered us some goat soup as a demonstration of that particular market. It was good soup.  Why is it little hard to think of eating goat?

Tree farm tours

After lunch we all loaded into a wagon and two ATV Gators (and some walked) for a tour of the 200 plus acres of woodlots. This was really the highlight of the day. I'd forgotten how beautiful the foliage was until I saw these pictures.

This picture gives a hint of what was to come. There are alternate rows of conifer and hardwood. The Black Walnut are yellow (what leaves are left) and the Red Oak are red(ish).

This plantation is a beautiful example of the planting technique which has been recommended (required) for CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) re-forestation. Alternate hardwood (deciduous) and softwood (conifer) every other row. The conifers act as trainers for the hardwood so they will grow straight and self-prune. Here you see Pine/Walnut/Pine/Red Oak alternation. This was repeated - more or less for this entire 185 acre planting (1998-99).

You can imagine how many jaws were dropping among those in attendance.

Note: if you zoom in on the white stake behind Bob, you can one of his innovations. His various wood plots are color coded and he numbers each row with a white stake on every 10 rows. Therefore we can see that this is Walnut row is the 90th row in the red woodlot.

One of the amazing things, for me, on this tour was the level of expertize and breadth of experience represented in this group of people.  Every stop inspired a lively discussion of techniques and fundamental principles for silviculture in general, and management for high value lumber production in particular. We had the local county DNR Forester well as other representatives from the DNR. We had forest consultants and, I believe, representatives of the lumber industry in attendance. They all chipped in with good advice for when and how to prune. When and how to thin a stand. Chemical recommendations for release of seedlings and control of competition (mainly grass).  I can't remember everything they said but some information dove-tailed with my experiences so hopefully I can remember it long enough to apply it on my own tree farm.

Stand thinning.

Let me see if I remember some of the things that were discussed:

These rows were obviously carefully planted and well spaced with a good (great) survival rate. They have been pruned. The question was how much more pruning was needed and when thinning should start.

The consensus was that the Red Oak are doing just fine and can take care of themselves and will self-prune.

The Walnut could start to be thinned in places. Look up when making this decision. Which tree is dominant in the canopy? Is this dominant tree straight and clean for16 feet - or is the less dominate tree of better form? (perhaps consider taking out the dominant to release the better formed tree.) These decisions should to be made early in the process, of course.

Much emphasis was made on top-down pruning techniques. Don't worry about lateral branches if they are not close-crotch. Pay primary attention to the leader. Make sure there is only one leader. The lateral branches will take care of themselves  (in a stand like this, at least). Walnut are particularly good at developing multiple tops due to death of the terminal bud (from deer, insect, disease, and cold).

About pruning and thinning.


Some of these Pine 'trainer' rows could be "row thinned" in places. Some newer recommendations for CRP plantations call for two rows of hardwoods for every row of conifer (I hope I got that right - since my farm is already planted it's a moot point for me). No one seemed too concerned about pruning up the conifers.

Here's a web site that I googled which explains some of these thinning techniques [Web site from University of Georgia]

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Jack and Red: Part XXIII - Milk Stop

This is the twenty-third in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

Milk Stop

[This has been a week of record cold here in Wisconsin. There has been just enough snow our part of the state to keep me off my bicycle.  Last night a (very) warm south wind blew in and melted all the snow.  So here I am at Mother Fools Coffee Shoppe (Sunday destination)]

"Grandpa, can we go see where you guys saw the train?"

Grandpa and Red had finished there sundae's and walked back from the ice cream store. They had just crossed the bridge and were about to climb down the bank and onto the road by Grandpa's house.  Red had already taken a few steps farther along the trail, and beyond the path down the bank, and was looking back at Grandpa with a pleading smile.  

"I suppose we could do that." He said reluctantly.  He thought about it for a second and then he shrugged and said;  "Okay, why not." 

"Thanks Grandpa." Red started off down the trail with such an enthusiastic pace that  Grandpa had to fairly run in order to catch up. 

"Hold on, Red," Grandpa gasped as he caught up with her, "we'll get there. Let's just walk, okay?" 

"Okay, Grandpa."; Red laughed "Sorry, I just can't wait to see this." 

"There's really nothing to see. It really looks the same as anywhere else along here."

"I don't care. I want to be there, you know, just to see what it's like. "

"It's not going to come back, if that's what you're hoping." Grandpa said, "JJ and I have been there a hundred times since then and nothing has happened." 

"I know, Grandpa," Red protested,  "that's not why I want to go. I just want to see where it happened." 

"Okay." Grandpa laughed and they walked on. 

They had just rounded a slight bend and Grandpa said; "Here's about where we first heard the train coming from back there." He pointed back the way they had come.

Red stopped and looked back. She stood there for a minute and listened. There was no sound except for the birds in the trees and the cicadas. 

"See, there's the old iron bridge up there in the distance." Grandpa said as he turned back and and continued walking. "And it was right up here that the train stopped and picked up the milk from that farm." 

Red joined him and they started looking around the area where the train had stopped. Red was searching the grass and weeds next to the trail and down towards the ditch on each side of the trail. There was no sign of any kind of landing. No clearing or widening of the path. No tracks or breaks in the tree line on either side of the trail. There was nothing to indicate that this had ever been anything but more of the same railroad right-of-way. 

"See," Grandpa said finally,  "Like I said, there's nothing to see."

But Red had stopped looking around and was focusing on the old iron bridge. 

"Grandpa," She said, "there's someone sitting up on that bridge." 

Grandpa looked up followed Red's gaze. "There sure is." He said.

"He's was there when we got here." Red whispered.";  But he's been sitting so still that at first I thought he was just part of the bridge." 

"Maybe he's sleeping." 

"He's dressed too well to be homeless." 

As they watched, he stood up and started walking towards them. Red and Grandpa went back to their search - maybe a little embarrassed for staring. 

The stranger approached and as he got close he stopped and looked at Grandpa. "Mr. P?" He asked.

Grandpa looked up and studied the man's face for a minute and then gasped; "Billy Thompson. Is that really you?"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jack and Red: Part XXII - Trails

This is the twenty-second in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]


[This is trying my patience. I keep wanting to skip ahead and see what's going to happen. But there are things that I believe I must take care of first. Have you ever felt like that? ]

Red and her Grandpa were walking along the trail. It was obviously well used by bikers and hikers but so far there were no other other folks in sight. You could tell the trail had been mowed recently because there was nicely clipped grass bordering the pea-gravel path for about six feet on either side. The trail was taking an easy bend to the right and entering a wooded area. The trees on either side have grown up, since the trains stopped running, and now their tops form a gentle roof over the trail. It's not dense enough to darken the trail or make it seem dangerous or foreboding. It's just a little shade from the late summer sun.

"So Red," Grandpa said finally, "what have you been thinking about the train?"

"Okay, Grandpa," Red began, "remember when we were talking about how each of us has our own universe and how when we're close to each other these universes are nearly identical and as we move apart they are no longer identical."

"I remember that, yes, or course I do." Grandpa smiled. 

"Well, I was thinking. You know, we never talked about what links us together - you know - like our universes. What makes our universes alike when we're close and different when we're apart."

"Not necessarily different, I think." Grandpa said. "But perhaps free to be different, you know less restrained."

"Okay, whatever. That doesn't make any difference to what I'm thinking. I mean there must be something that ties our existence together and it's stronger when we're close and loses strength as we move apart."

"That's pretty deep thinking, Red."

"Yeah, maybe, I don't know." Red blushed a little.

"You mean like magnetism or something?" Grandpa asked.

"Yeah, I guess so."

"I guess there could be something like that, ", Grandpa agreed, "but what would it be?"

"It doesn't matter - something, all right? Don't over-think this okay?"

"Sorry - go on."

"Okay, well if there is something like that it would hold all our universes together, wouldn't it?"

"I suppose so, to a degree, I guess."

"I mean everyone on earth, you know, like all of us - all people."

"I guess we're all relatively close to each other if you think about all of space and all."

"Yeah, Grandpa, that's what I mean.  And whatever attraction we have could be strong enough to effect all of humanity - you know, kind of holding us all together. Like, everyone on earth."

"Okay." Grandpa said, "so what does this have to do with the train?"

"Just hold on Grandpa, I'm getting to that." Red said as she walked along. She was enjoying herself here and she was in no hurry to get to the point.

By now they had walked thought he shady part and the trail was now passing between cornfields on both sides. The old rail-bed had been raised up about 8 feet (in order to maintain the grade for the trains) so they were well above the surrounding fields. They could look over the tops of the fully grown and tasseled corn and see Mayville in the distance. It looked like it was about half a mile to the first houses and then it was only a couple blocks to the ice cream store.

"Come on Red, what does this have to do with the train?" Grandpa insisted.

"Well, I think that somehow while you guys were walking that day, that train came by and disrupted whatever force was holding you together with everyone else and somehow you got pushed next to some other universe - or universes."

"Hmm"; was all Grandpa could say.   He stopped walking and looked at Red. Then he turned and started walking again.

They walked along quietly for a while. The afternoon sun was warming thing up nicely and Red took off the jacket she was wearing and tied the sleeves around her neck and wore it like a cape. 

After they walked for a while she looked over at Grandpa and said; "So, what do you think?"

"That's an interesting idea." Grandpa said; "So you think the train caused some sort of disruption in the fabric that holds everything together. "

"Something like that, yes a fabric." Red stopped and picked up a rock and threw it into the ditch. Grandpa stopped and picked up a candy wrapper and put it in his pocket. And then they both started walking again. "Hmm, a fabric, " She continued, "that's good, Grandpa."

"Thanks." Grandpa smiled. Then he continued;  "And so you think this only effected your Dad and me?"

"And Billy."

"Yes, and Billy." Grandpa said; "And as soon as it went by us the effect faded and we re-attached back to our own universes?"

"Except for Billy because he got on the train."

"Yes, it would have been different for Billy, I guess. "

"But he came back so it must have only been a wave or something like that, you know."

"You really have been thinking about this, haven't you." Grandpa said admiringly.

"Yeah, like I said. I mean, haven't you, Grandpa?"

"Yes, of course. I've been thinking about time warps and that but not the universe thing."

"If it was just a time warp, how could Billy stay in that time and you and Daddy not?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well the fact that Billy was able to ride that train and then come back to the same place - more or less - that he left, you know. I can't explain this very well. I mean he was able to join that other universe (whatever it was) and then return to the same universe (or universes) he left and then things just keep going the way they were as if nothing happened."

Red continued; "And not only was that train from a different time, it was from a different reality. It wasn't just back in our time - it was back in some other time. Some other reality. Some other history. Some other universe."

"But close to ours." Grandpa insisted.

"Yeah, close. It wasn't like space aliens or anything. It was very close to our world but not our world, you know, our universe."

"Yes, that's the strange part of the whole thing." Grandpa admitted. "And that's also the scary part. And that's why your Mother is so worried about you (or any of us) going on this trail."

"Yeah, I know. That's what she said. We had a long talk about it, you know."

"Yeah, I heard about that, you know, from Grandma."

"But you and Dad have looked for the train and it's never come back, right?"

"That's right, but that doesn't mean it never will. It happened once, you know, and it might happen again. Nobody knows."

"Well, if it does happen, you know, if we do see the train, we don't have to get on - like Billy. We can just watch it go by - like you guys did. And then we'll be safe, right?."

"But wouldn't you be curious to see what Billy saw?" Grandpa asked.

"Maybe." Red thought for a few steps and then said; "It would be cool to ride it to the city and back like Billy did. After all he did make it back safely and nothing bad happened to him."

"Yes, there is that." Grandpa admitted; "I agree, it would be tempting. But what if Billy was just lucky, you know, what if it was just dumb luck that he made it back to the same place he left?"

"That's a scary thought.";  Red said.

"Yes it is." Grandpa said. "Very scary. So don't even think about getting on the train, Okay?"

"Like it's ever going to come back." Red laughed.

"I'm serious, Red. If you ever see that train  - or anything else like it - promise me you won't get on it."

"Grandpa, I've already promised Mom and Dad." Red said annoyed.


"Okay, Grandpa, I promise."

"Thanks Red."

They were just coming to the ice cream place and this time there were no races to see who would get there first. They walked into the store.

"You too." Red looked at Grandpa.

"What, me too?" Grandpa asked.

"Promise me you won't get on that train." Red looked at Grandpa with her sternest look.

Grandpa laughed (perhaps too nervously); "Okay, Red I promise."

"I'm serious Grandpa."

"Okay, Red." Then he continued almost under his breath; "Like it's ever going to come back." 

Red heard this and they both laughed.

Red ordered a strawberry sundae and Grandpa; a hot fudge. They took their treats outside to eat on the patio.

[I've spent a couple days working on this part. I usually just hit 'publish' to, you know, keep it real. But, like I said, I need to be patient (and careful) here. Like no more 'dreams', you know. Not yet, anyway.]

[Note on revisions: This is actually the third version of Part XXII. I added a bunch of background to the second version and published that version. I read it and hated it and pulled it back down (it was tedious) and went back to the original version. This is that - more or less. I will hit 'publish' in the future - this is a blog, after all, and doesn't need to be so composed - don't you think? ]

Friday, November 7, 2014

Jack and Red: Part XXI - And now.

This is the twenty-first in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

And Now ...

[Hmm, now I've done it - haven't I? Have I written myself into a corner? I'm a little frightened, but I believe in the story so I'll try not to worry. Have I told too much? I think I've told just enough. What do you think? ]

[So now I need to go back - but where?]

"I like that color for the shed, don't you?" Jack looked over at Red who was swinging gently on the  back porch swing - pushing herself with her feet against one of the pails filled with apples that Red and her Grandpa had just finished picking.

Red looked up from the message she was writing on her phone and gazed across the yard at the old shed. "It looks a lot better than it did, Grandpa."

"We did a good job."

"You had a lot of help"

"Some of it better than others."; Grandpa said with a bit of sarcasm in his voice.

Red smiled.

"Have you seen James since then?"; Grandpa asked.

"No. Why would I?"

"Oh, I don't know." Grandpa said, looking back at the shed.

"I'll see him when school starts, I guess."

"Monday, right?"

"Yeah." Red finished the text and put her phone away. "Monday."

"Are you looking forward to it?"

"I guess." Red admitted; "It'll be nice seeing everyone again."

"Like James?"


Grandpa smiled and decided to drop the subject. They both sat quietly and rocked; Grandpa in his old rocking chair and Red on the porch swing. They watched two squirrels chase each other around  the shed and up into the trees.

"Do you feel like a walk?"; Grandpa asked finally.

"Been awhile."; Red smiled at Grandpa; "like, all summer."

"Yeah, too long, I think." Grandpa smiled back. "I've been dyin' for an ice cream cone."

Red laughed; "Yeah, me too." She stood up and started for the porch steps; "Come on."

"I'd better tell Grandma." Jack said.

 Red stopped on the steps and looked at her Grandpa. "Do you think she'll mind?"

[I'm having a hard time with names here. Where do I use 'Grandpa' and where do I use 'Jack'?]

"No, she's not worried." Jack looked at Red; "How about your folks?"

"I think they're over it. Come on, let's go. Tell Grandma and I'll meet you out front."

[Is this boring? I'm having a hard time moving the story this morning. Maybe I just needed to take a breath Huh?  It's nice to be back with just Grandpa and Red, though.  I think some of the trouble is that I am starting to see where some of this could be going and it's hard to concentrate on the 'present' - you know - keeping it linear - somewhat.]

Red was waiting in the driveway when Jack came out the front door. He smiled as he hurried to join her. He saw her questioning look and said lightly; "No problem. Let's go."


At the end of the driveway they turned left down the road towards town.

Red stopped and said; "Grandpa, lets go the other way?"

"What? On the trail?" He asked."Do you think that's a good idea?"

"Yeah. " Red laughed. "You said Grandma wasn't worried.  So why not?"

"I don't think your Mom would like it."

"Hey, I said that she was over it. What can it hurt?"

Grandpa thought for a second and then said;  "Yeah, what can it hurt? As long as you think it's alright."

"Sure. No biggie."

They turned around and walked back towards the snowmobile trail. Grandma Pynesapp stood in the living room and watched them turn around and head the other way and she sighed.

Red and her Grandpa climbed up the embankment to the trail, crossed over the old railroad bridge, and started walking towards town. The pea gravel crunched under their feet as they walked. The wild flowers were beginning to fade and some of the leaves were starting to turn color.  Bu itt was a warm, sunny day; perfect weather for a walk.

"Have you and Dad ever tried to find the train again?" Red asked as she walked.

"Many times."

"But you've never seen it again, have you?" Red asked.

"Not a sign of it."

"Do you think it really happened. Was it really there?"

"Yes, Red, I'm sure of it. It wasn't a dream and it wasn't an illusion. It was very real."

"But how?"

"Good question." Jack admitted. "I wish I knew."

They walked for a while.

"I've been thinking about it, a lot, you know." Red said finally.

"I bet you have." Jack smiled. "I was counting on that." 

[What does Red think? It'll have to wait. The coffee's gone. Time to go]

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Jack and Red: Part XX - And then..

This is the twentieth in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

And then...

"Is Grandpa dead?"; Red said - to herself, she thought - and then she woke up.

Jimmy grunted something, his head buried in the pillow.

"Yes, I know he is."; Red whispered to herself because she didn't want to wake Jimmy.

Too late.

"What's wrong?" Jimmy whispered sleepily; "Another dream?" He rolled over and gave her shoulder a squeeze.

"Yeah. " Red rolled over next to Jimmy and gave him a big hug. She needed a big, long hug. She needed to be held tightly in this world - in the present - in reality. Because where she had just been  had seemed so real when she was there that she couldn't tell the difference. That's why she had to remind herself that it wasn't real - why she asked the question (she knew the answer as soon as she'd asked it) and that brought her back. That awakened her.

"Was it Jack again?"; Jimmy asked after a while. He always called him 'Jack'. He could never get used to 'Grandpa' - it didn't sound right.

"It all seemed so real." Red sat up in the bed and pulled the covers around her. She stayed next to Jimmy.

"Where were you this time?" He scooted up next to her and pulled the pillow around and onto his lap.

"On the train."

"Wow. It's been a while since you've had one of those."

"Yeah." Red sighed.

"Was Billy there?"

"No, it was just Grandpa, and Grandma, and me."

"Marge was there, too? That's different."

"Yeah, for the dreams, anyway.  But she was there, you know, she did go with us a couple times near the end." 

"Before me?" Jimmy smiled.

"Yes, Jimmy dear, before you."; Red laughed; "Everyone was before you."

Red laid her head down on the pillow on Jimmy's lap. Jimmy brushed her hair back from her face and gently rubbed her temple and cheek.

"Do you want to talk about it?"; Jimmy asked quietly.

[I only have a short time today but I wanted to get this down while it was fresh. I had a dream - you know. That started this, but even I am surprised at where it seems to be going. Grandpa's dead? Jimmy and Red? WTF right? Is this really the future? (Or just one possible future?) Stay tuned.]

Monday, November 3, 2014

Jack and Red: Part XIX - Gwen.

This is the nineteenth in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]


"You told her!?"; Gwen asked JJ. She was so upset that she had all she could do to keep her voice at a whisper.

[past tense? - in the narrative, not the dialog - is that right?]

[This is a jump, right? I know where I want to go with this but how do I get here? Where are JJ and Gwen? How did they get here? Where's Red? She must be near because Gwen is trying to whisper. ]

"I can hear you, Mom." Red said from the back seat. She had her ear buds in but was between songs. She hit pause and took out the buds. She leaned forward between the front seats and looked at her Mom. "Why didn't you want me to know about this?"

[Okay, I can run with this....]

Gwen gave JJ a helpless look and turned to Red. "Honey, you know how you and Grandpa kind of get carried away with all this talk about supernatural stuff, and weird science and all that, and we - well I - was worried that you might try to go and find this train."

"Ha. So you believe that the train was real." Red said.

"Well, Sweetheart, I don't know what to believe." Gwen said;  "Your Father and Grandfather have always maintained that it is a true story so I have to assume that it has some foundation in reality."

"So that means that you believe it." Red insisted. "Why else would you try so hard to keep me from knowing about it?"

Gwen looked at JJ helplessly and said to Red; " I believe that something happened up on those tracks..."

"Thanks a lot."; JJ interrupted.

"What?" Gwen persisted; "I said I believed you."

Gwen looked back at Red; "Something happened, " Gwen continued, "and I believe that whatever it was..." She looked at JJ before he could protest. ".. a train or whatever; I believe your Father and Grandfather (and Billy) were very lucky to have survived the experience."

"What do you mean 'lucky to have survived'?" Red asked. JJ glanced quickly towards Gwen and then turned his attention back to driving.

"Well, I believe that whatever it was, it was not natural - you know." Gwen continued. And I believe it was very dangerous."

"And you think it is still dangerous after all these years?" Red asked.

"I don't know." Gwen protested; "I don't know anything about it. And that makes me afraid, you know. So why risk it? You don't walk into a cave if you think there might be a bear around."

"So you're afraid that Grandpa and I will go walking where those tracks were and find the train."

"No, I don't think you'll find the train - but why take the chance; is all I'm saying."

"So that's why Grandpa always refuses to walk down the snowmobile trail."

"That's probably one reason." JJ said.

"What's the other"; Red asked.

"Well, " JJ glanced at Gwen, "I guess that's the only reason that I know of."

"Is Grandpa afraid of the train?; Red asked.

"You'll have to ask Grandpa." Gwen said.

"Are you sure we can talk about this?" Red asked sarcastically.

"Now Red," JJ scolded, "that tone is a little uncalled for, don't you think?"

"Sorry. "Red said and then leaned back in her seat.

Gwen looked back at her; "Red, sweetheart, we're just concerned for your safety. You have to believe that."

"I know."

"And you know, Grandma has never let your Grandpa or JJ go back on those tracks to this very day. So it's not just you."

"Wow," Red said,  "you guys really do believe in the train."

"You're old enough now to know." Gwen said; "And you're responsible enough to take the danger seriously. We just don't want you and Grandpa to try one of your experiments with this thing - whatever it is - or was."

"Thanks Mom." Red said.

[They should be home by now. I'll head home as well. ]