Friday, January 22, 2010


Another item about to be checked off the list. Since childhood, I’ve wanted to ride a snowmobile. It was not one of the major accomplishments of my life, but something that intrigued me anytime I thought about it. The idea of riding a motored vehicle (is a sled a vehicle? ) on snow, going uphill and downhill with speed and no effort just sounded like great fun.
But, it was not something that I had to do. Actually, as I think about it, there weren’t many things that I HAD to do but go to college. There was never an option to not go to college. So, I had no set dreams as I grew up and matured (ugh, I’m not sure I like that word—“matured” –it sounds like OLD). But I digress. The main thought is that snowmobiling was something that I wanted to do when I happened to think about it.
It took almost 2 years to put this trip together. My friend Clay mentioned it to me one day, and it immediately brought great interest. Going snowmobiling in a remote northwest place—Yellowstone, had great appeal. I said “YES” loudly and clearly.
But, as often happens, when we started trying to put the trip together, including several couples who we play with the clock kept ticking and we made no progress. The others hemmed and hawed, not saying “No” but not saying “Yes” either. Non committal. In the end, the clock simply ran too fast and we ran out of time.
So, when Clay and I realized it was too late, we made a pact to go this year, whether anyone else went or not. Our mindset became “We’re going snowmobiling in Yellowstone. If you want to go, too, you’re very welcome.” We were going snowmobiling.
The date was set, a 5 day trip in late January. We began talking it up amongst the others in August-September, and they were pretty much like last year, not making a decision. As time went on, people finally said, in essence “We’re not going”. It turns out that the trip has 4 participants, Clay, Joy, Libby, and me. All the others dropped out.
The adventure started with booking the flights. It happened that Southwest had a 2 day deal with $100 fares across most of the country. We quickly booked flights and saved at least $300 on airfare. The catch was that we had to fly to Salt Lake City and rent a car to get to West Yellowstone, our destination. A 5 hour drive on top of an all day flights was not great, but we wanted to keep costs somewhat in check.
On January 20th, in the afternoon, Joy and Clay arrived at my place. About an hour later, Libby arrived. We visited a while and had dinner at a local pub. The food and company was very good. Then we went back home and watched State beat Duke (yeah!). Since we needed to get up by 5am the next morning, we hit the sack pretty early.
An alarm at 5am is never a welcome sound. It was not this morning! But we all got up, got dressed and had some coffee before loading the car for the airport.
Getting to the airport was easy; amazingly, there were no problems or hitches. Even security was not difficult.
The flights were easy; a little turbulence from time to time, but not bad. We were delayed almost an hour in Denver while they dealt with a “load” situation. I told Clay it was the lasagna he and I had for lunch—if we had eaten a salad, there would have been no problem. On the Salt Lake City end, the luggage took a while to arrive, and the rental car company had a line of people in front of us. All said, we were about 1.5 hours behind the schedule I had planned. Not a problem, but things just took longer than we expected.
A guy I met over the Internet who lives in Salt Lake City had given me some advice about the trip, including how to get on the Interstate towards West Yellowstone. We followed his advice, and it worked just great. No problems getting moving.
And move we did. Speed limits of 75 on the Interstate and 65 on Hwy 20 to West Yellowstone really helped to cover the miles quickly. The GPS had said just under 5 hours to cover 345 miles. Now I can see how –high speed limits eat up miles in a hurry.
The drive was fine until Hwy 20 narrowed to 2 lanes. Still 65 mph, but more evidence of moisture on the road. The final 60 or miles had lots of ice/chat/and moisture on the road, so I had to slow down some. There were patches of fog also, sometimes I could see about 50 feet in front of the car. Tough going. The last 60 miles were covered at an average speed of about 40 or so; it was not easy, especially on top of a long day of travel.
Found the hotel just fine; about 2.5 hours later than we had hoped. But they had our rooms, so all was well.
Tomorrow—Realizing a dream!

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