Christmas on a Budget

It’s no secret that the Holidays cause a lot of Holiday stress. I suppose anything worth doing is worth overdoing. I say if it ain’t fixed don’t break it. These days it’s every American’s duty to spend money like a drunken sailor at Christmas to maintain the standard of living that makes our country so cool, unless you can’t. Then all it takes is a little imagination, a few gallons of gasoline, a strong stomach, some rubber gloves and a respirator to turn Christmas on a budget into a free shopping adventure the whole family can enjoy.

The Olympic Peninsula is not only a recreational wonderland filled with hiking, biking and nature activities galore, the back roads of this emerald jewel paradise have become a not-to-be missed dumping ground for many of the local inhabitants. To judge from the refuse along logging roads, recreational dumping is a family affair where you load up the truck with toys, furniture and animal carcasses and head for the freedom of the hills to dump it up in God’s country.

Call it dumping with a view. Some of the more picturesque dumps allow the dumper the thrill of rolling major appliances, engine blocks and offal off a cliff to watch in child-like wonder as it bounces down the mountain. Other more accessible dumps spread the inventory in a wider area allowing the scavenging Christmas gift bargain hunters more choices for their Christmas list.

Often the people who dump garbage are multi-taskers, dropping off unwanted pets with their refuse. While I have long supported a spay-neuter program for pet dumpers, until that happens you have a good chance of picking up a cute little puppy or a box of adorable kittens at your next visit to a wilderness dump. Who wouldn’t want to share that joy of the holiday season?

Have an automotive enthusiast on your Christmas list? You’re in luck. Many hard to find parts for rare 1980 subcompacts lie strewn about the forest floor. Sometimes entire vehicles with as yet undiagnosed mechanical difficulties and minor burn marks lie just under the road awaiting a little TLC to get them purring again.

Sure you may have to sift through a ton of garbage, dirty needles and waste oil containers to get a real Christmas treasure like an exercise bike or a Vegematic or an Elvis painting. That just makes each gift more special. Call it, giving something back to nature or leaving a piece of themselves, the forest dumpers have left private dumps throughout the woods for the rest of us to discover and enjoy. These “boutique” or “designer dumps” are where you find them like, the Dungeness watershed where just downstream, thousands of people get their water.

I once asked a Forest Ranger why they didn’t do like they do in more civilized countries like Montana or Idaho, put a dumpster at the bottom of the logging roads to avoid polluting the aquifer.

“That would never work,” the Forest Ranger said, “because people would just fill the dumpsters with garbage.”

Of course, why didn’t I think of that? And besides dumpster diving could take a lot of fun out of the Christmas recycling experience. Part of the attraction is the thrill of the hunt for bargains in the wilderness. Here’s hoping you find the Christmas dump of your dreams are made of!

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