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MY TWO SNOW MOTION TREATS

The first snowmobile I had, in the 1970s, was a huge, lumbering old Sno-Cruiser. It had a wide track--20 inches I believe--and a large seat. I would have my two young sons sit behind me, & behind them Queeny, our dog rode, standing crossways. Away we zoomed, at a blinding 30 miles per hour--top speed.

The dog had an amazing ability to keep her balance standing there no matter how the machine swerved or bounced. She loved riding and hopped onto the seat as soon as the engine started. If it didn’t start immediately she flew into an outraged flurry of barking, calling that machine every obscene name in the Terrier Cross language.

The Sno-Cruiser was a sturdy, reliable sled. It gave us trouble-free performance for as long as we had it. Eventually of course, my kids wanted a sleeker, faster one.  

Our next snowmobile was prettier and fancier, but more fragile and temperamental as well. Now my ability, inclination and patience when it comes to fussing with fitful machinery are severely limited. A half hour of futile tinkering can change me from the fairly decent individual I am into an enraged, dangerous lunatic. Getting it fixed by a pro was  very expensive. By the time I got rid of it I decided  snowmobiling wasn’t worth the expense and effort. I was busy with many other things as well. Who needed it?

Anyway,  I had discovered cross-country skiing by then and was convinced that that sport was a much better choice. The hardware is much cheaper. It uses no fuel. There are no moving parts--except on the skier.

It is an excellent exercise and produces no noise or CO2 emissions. The latter two virtues made me feel very righteous. I imagined snowmobilers to be fat, lazy individuals on noisy, pollution-spouting monstrosities while I was lean, fit and environmentally squeaky-clean.

As well, the glide and rhythmic muscular movements of skiing are satisfying to the point of addiction. In fact researchers have discovered that sustained periods of such activities as running, swimming and skiing produce in the body substances called endorphins, which actually have a narcotic effect. Think of it: you can improve your health, feel virtuous as hell and get high all at the same time.

Why then get back into snowmobiling? Well, after I retired my oldest son,  a power sled fanatic,  reintroduced it to me, years after I had left it. I borrowed a machine to take part in the Snowden Snowmobile Poker Rally in 1992 and enjoyed it immensely. Then too I was almost the only skier in a community where nearly everyone had a sled, so there was a social element.

By no means, however, did I abandon cross-country skiing. It is still my favourite winter pastime and will continue to occupy much of my outdoor leisure time. And Esther enjoys it as much as I do. For most of the past 40 years for me (and the past 26 years for Esther) the sport was much enhanced by having one or two dogs on each outing; their wild excitement made the sport that much more enjoyable. In fact one of the main purposes of our snowmobile has been to  make trails on which to ski.  It’s been the best of both worlds.

I’ve had four more snowmobiles since the Sno-Cruiser and sold the last one last spring. We have since moved into a city condo where, of course, there’s no opportunity for snowmobiling. We have however, found places in the parks and elsewhere to cross-country ski.

We who inhabit the Western plains of Canada are faced each year with a long, cold, dark and gruelling winter.  Anything we can do to help us survive it without becoming chronic whiners or TV and social media addicts is worth trying. The secret is to find an activity that appeals to you--curling (Esther and I did that most years), hockey, snowshoeing--whatever, then get out and do it.


Contact Esther or me to comment on columns. Our new address: 110 201 Cree Place Saskatoon, SK  S7K 7Z3. Phone 306 384 8657. Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Wednesday January 12, 2022