This year's snowmobile trip was one of the best ones ever. It was a great mix of wintry weather, more people than usual, and lots of snow. Conditions were excellent. Best of all, no accidents.
Each year we stay at Tall Timber Lodge way up in the northern tip of New Hampshire. While it's a long journey to get up there, there is something very Twin Peaks about it that makes everything feel like an adventure. It's like a magical, far away land where it's easy to imagine that the next stop is the North Pole. It feels off the map, and has the climate to prove it.
Heading from the seacoast region, I pass an incredible 5 climate zones to get there. It's so cold at night sometimes that it feels as though when I breath in, I'm inhaling daggers.
Apparently it got down to -20 but I never knew it because I was snuggled under the blankets in our cozy cabin where the flicker of the gas fireplace kept things toasty all night long.
I was having such a blast bombing along the twisty roads through the White Mountains, Franconia Notch, and smaller and smaller towns as I headed toward the Great North Woods. It reminded me of driving through the Alps, so I turned on some Bowie which always reminds me when I used to paint the scenery with a soundtrack courtesy of the Thin White Duke. So on it went. And on and on I went.
The town of Colebrook is the last one of any substance along the way, and I was so tempted to duck into the bar at the Wilderness Restaurant (which is always such a symbol to me that I'm in a very different place), but I declined. It was starting to snow, and I really was entering the wilderness so to speak, and it would have been a bad idea.
Moose, deer, snow, ice, frigid temps, and very few travelers should help be required were all possibilities in store for me. Even a minor accident late at night in this region could mean the difference between life or death.
Pulling into Tall Timber felt like entering Santa's Village For Snowmobilers. You can ride right up to the front door of the lodge and check in.
This year we had the most people ever. We had a 4 bedroom cabin and an extra room in the lodge for those like me who like to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Best of all was we had some great chefs. There were some girlfriends along this year, and boy did they do some cooking. We ate like kings.
Some minor sled trouble this year gave us some challenges that were met with ingenuity and skill. It's cool to see my friends rip open an engine in the freezing cold, figure out what's wrong, get a spare part or two, and fix it on the spot. Very inspiring.
Lots of merriment went on in our cabin with dueling iPods, acoustic guitars, and hanging out. And when we rode, we rode well. The groomers had done a great job and the trails were smooth. We were always careful of the yahoos that plague the trails with too much speed and booze mixed together. Each year there are accidents and fatalities. Alcohol is nearly always involved. We always try to keep our wits about us as we're having fun, because coming around a corner could be someone who is out of control. I was nearly hit by someone coming around a corner on my side of the trail. It can happen anywhere, anytime.
The trails are like highways. This was the trail up to the Canadian border, right to the top of New Hampshire.
This is what it's all about, moments like this, way out there off the edge of the map.
The border crossing used to be a quaint little hut, now it's a megalithic Homeland Security monstrosity. One of our group commented off the cuff upon seeing it: "Looks like they want to keep us IN."
After this shot, the temperature really plummeted and we blazed back home as fast as we could. I prefer riding at night because you can see other snowmobilers coming at you well in advance. Still we tried not to go too crazy. All I could think about was sitting in front of the fireplace eating some beef stew that had been cooking all day in the crock pot. If we pushed too hard we'd never get to enjoy it. But we did.
And now we're already planning next year.