Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Snowmobile Weekend

Friday was my annual snowmobiling trip with my friends Dwight and Mike.  This is our third year of hitting the trails and its been nothing short of fantastic.  Taking Friday off assures that the trails are still pretty smooth before the weekend crowd does it's damage.  Friday we put 146 miles on our sleds as we made a loop from Emily, MN to Hill City, Palisade, then back to Emily.  Finishing out the evening at the Bungalow Supper Club, we enjoyed an all you can eat rib dinner that was out of the world.  Nothing beats a small town Supper club.  Having stuffed ourselves beyond reason, we headed back to Mikes cabin for an evening glass of wine while sharing a few stories of our snowmobiling adventures from years past.  Unfortunately this is one of the few times I can get out with my sled and it's much appreciated.  Saturday morning we got up and drove west 15 miles to Cross Lake, MN for breakfast.  That sausage and sauerkraut omelet sure hit the spot!  Back by noon we loaded up with a total of 176 miles, shut the cabin down and headed back to the city.  We have record snow on the ground I am planning on trying to get more miles in this year.

Vic Wenaas owned the Mobil Service (heavy on the service) Station in Eleva.  Formally owed my my grandpa Roy, I started working for Vic in 1970 at the tender age of 15.  My job was to work the 5:00 - 9:00 shift, pumping gas, washing windshields, checking oil, all those things that one used to expect when you would pull into a gas station.  All gas stations were "full service" then and the thought of pumping your own gas was unthinkable.  Regular leaded gas was $0.379 per gallon and fuel oil was a whopping $0.199 per gallon.  During that summer I had 2 jobs.  3 nights a week loading chickens for Willy Drangsveit and 4 nights a week working for Vic.  About August Vic gave me an ultimatum, either quit loading chickens and work for him or quit and work for Willy.  I chose Vic and never looked back.  I can not even imagine today any 15 year old having to make that decision, as I don't even think they could work until they are 16.  One thing it did was give me plenty of money in my younger days.  Vic was the most important mentor in my life outside my family.  He also had a Ski Doo snowmobile and influenced me to buy my own that year.  Managing to save a pretty good chunk of money, Vic brought me to the Ski Doo dealership in Augusta, Wisconsin were I bought a 1971 Ski Doo Olympic 299 single cylinder Rotex engine with a whooping 18 horsepower.  I still remember paying $572 cash for my new form of winter entertainment.  Those were some of the best times of my life.  Along with my friends Jimmy Tollefson, Steve Herbenson, and Tom Peterson, we turned snowmobiling into the major transportation method for the next 3 years.  Most trails at the time where simple one width tracks that traveled between major towns and those that owned sleds.  My friend Jim had a trail going from behind my house, up through Schultz's pasture, through Indian Valley, up over Old Baldy (a large hill with no trees on it), through Heaths, across O'Krooley's and ending at the Tollefson farm.  Jim, his dad Gyle, and brother-in-law Jim Rose had made a number of trails through their back wooded acreage which claimed a number of front bumpers as maneuvering became more difficult as the winter went on.  I ran that sled hard for about 3 years, literally wearing it out before trading it to Gary Engen, along with a bolt action 22 rifle and a recurve bow for a blonde stock Belgium Browning A5 shotgun.  I still have the shotgun as well memories of those days sledding with my 299 along with Jim and the "Great One". 

Today I run a 2006 Polaris 900cc Switchback.  This sled is quite a contrast from that 1972 single cylinder Ski Doo.  Putting out a solid 152 horsepower, she'll top 115 mph faster than you can imagine.  It sports a 144 inch, 1 1/4 inch lug track that hooks up with the ability to lift the ski's when you crack the throttle at 55 mph.  One of the best things about the motor is the electronic reverse feature.  To go in reverse, let the engine return to idle, push a button and the engine begins to slow down.  Just before it's ready to stop the ignition suddenly changes causing the piston that was just on its way to TDC (top dead center) to ignite prematurely forcing the engine to reverse direction.  No gear changes, nothing to engage, just a simple push of the button.  Back up, push the reverse button again and the motor does the same exercise only reversing the engine back to it's normal running direction.  Sweet!   The sled is great in the deeper snow as it has that longer track (normal track size is 121 inches) however unfortunately is pretty front heavy.  It's been out west with me a couple of times before I reconfigured my older 2004 700cc Switchback as it is lighter, more maneuverable, and handles much better on the side hills.  Oh well, with the new sleds selling for more that $10,000, I suspect the 900 will carry me for a few more years. 

This weekend is guaranteed to be exciting.  On Saturday I have been recruited to take a number of guests visiting from Brazil ice fishing with my fishing partner Mark Applen.  Mark called me for some advice and help.  I think we have a great plan to show what we do for entertainment here in Minnesota.  Maybe we can trade and ice fishing trip for a Peacock Bass Adventure on the Amazon.  Sunday needs no explanation as the Packers are in the Super Bowl.  Back at my neighbor Tim's for the big game,  there will be at least 50 people expecting to leverage the situation against me.  Oh well, at least the Pack are Back.  Enjoy the game and Happy 81st Birthday to my Dad!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...