A tradition returns to Oak Knoll Lane


felipe_lights.jpgFelipe Bustos, who has very ably managed the landscaping and grounds maintenance here at gulker.com for nearly 20 years (that’s Felipe on the right) spent a couple hours this morning with his very hard working crew stringing Christmas lights in our Redwoods.

When we bought the house almost 20 years ago, the Redwoods were rather haphazardly strung with lights that had been there for perhaps 30 years. We were informed that it was neighborhood tradition to burn those lights during the holidays. The old-fashioned, large incandescent bulbs cost more than $100 (20 years ago) to run between Thanksgiving and New Years, a steep sum for a much younger couple who had stretched to buy a house in Menlo Park’s well-reputed school district.

Nowadays we can afford the PG&E bill, but the lights were so rickety, that a light rain or modest wind would trip the twin 20-amp circuits dedicated to the lights. Resetting the breakers meant getting up on a ladder in the elements, sometimes several times in an evening.

When Felipe’s crew trimmed the tree earlier this year, he felt it was time to retire the old lights. For one thing, the trees had grown 30 or 40 feet higher than the lights reached, for another, much insulation had come off the wires, and the wires themselves were easily broken. Felipe promised to buy new lights as soon as they were available in the stores.

Two weeks ago, Felipe came to me a bit frustrated. He figured I needed 800 feet of lights to do the job right, but the stores locally only had 25-foot-long strings, which would mean 40 strings connected end-to-end. Felipe figured 40 connections meant there’d always be a problem somewhere, and didn’t think it would be a good idea.

So I went online and found an outfit in Three Forks, Montana (Christmas Lights Online) that had strings up to 1000 feet. They also had LED bulbs that, while pricey, only use about one-twentieth of the power and last a very long time.

Anyway, this morning at 8, the tree crew, the string and a giant box with 1000 bulbs in assorted holiday colors all arrived in the driveway. By mid afternoon the lights stretched to the top of the tallest tree, and were turned on just as rain began to fall. The new lights are bright, there are many more of them, and they use about 300 watts, versus more than 3,000 watts for the old lights. Neighbors have already come over to voice their approval…


About Chris Gulker

Chris Gulker, a self-described Infuential Blogger, lived in Menlo Park, California with spouse Linda. He passed away in late October 2010.
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One Response to A tradition returns to Oak Knoll Lane

  1. John Getze says:

    How about some night time photos of the lit redwoods?

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