snowmobiling

Out with the Old, in with the New!

So much has happened since my last post here…we have covered lots of ground. We did lots of running around here and there, mainly because of Christmas shopping and visiting!  So, I won’t bother to comment on what has been, but what we are doing presently.

One project that I do want to comment on is the new ramp that Ben nearly single-handedly built behind the house!  With Mark’s help and instruction, Ben not only built a wooden ramp which is longer than the old temporary one, but he also mixed and poured twenty-two bags of cement to form a beautiful sidewalk at the end of the ramp!

I honestly think a better job could not have been done.  Ben is very shy about me sharing about this project, but to see him mix one eighty pound bag of mix after another, then pour it and begin again was incredible!  I think most men would have been slowing down after ten bags, but Ben just kept right on going!

Our weather has been very strange this winter. While the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted a colder and snowier winter than usual, we have had precious little snow and the temperatures have been mild.  We are supposed to be getting some snow over the next few days and I will welcome it!  The warmer temperatures we have had, along with the rain, have made me feel so chilly!  Better freezing temperatures with snow than warmer temperatures with rain and drizzle!  The dampness seems to get into one’s bones!

We are missing riding the snowmobiles this year.  Last year, we were able to have had several outings by this time, but with no snow, it has been impossible.  There was some snow up on Tug Hill, but Mark read accounts where the warm temps made nasty riding conditions with puddles. Yuck!

I have been in cleaning mode the past couple of weeks, wanting to thin out stuff we don’t want/need.  It is crazy how stuff piles up on us while we aren’t paying attention!  Michelle has been feeling the need to discard old junk as well.  We need to make a trip to one of the Salvation Army Stores soon!  I think this is the closest I come to making a New Year’s resolution.  I have just become restless looking at all the stuff that has been building up over the years.  We even have things from Mark’s dad who passed away seven years ago this month!

How about you?  Have you made any resolutions?  Do you usually stick with them, or do they fall be the wayside?

Oh, that One Last Ride…

Off and running on our (most likely) ride of the season
The snow was deep and the scenery amazing!

 

How could the season be coming to a close?  The base was deep, the trails, beautiful and the sights…spectacular!

The deeper we went into the wooded areas, the more amazing the scenery!
Breathtaking!

Mark (l) chatting with a couple of riders on the trail.

Oops…Mark put the camera on “alien mode” (just kidding!) to snap this shot of me. The snowmobiles float on top of snow that was up to my knees! And to think our snow is almost all gone in the Bristolwood!

Ben.

The sun was poking through and yes, the icy snow on the branches was beginning to drip..drip...drip.
There's the groomer!

The water is running in the rivers and streams…a sure sign that things are warming up.  The temperatures the rest of this week are going to be above freezing, and with accompanying rain showers,  the snowmobile trails will face a certain demise…

As we passed by this cabin, I just had to photograph it..it was so pretty nestled snuggly in the snow. When we came back a few hours later, two men were on top of the roof, shoveling the snow off!
Ben wanted to go back to the "Land of the Giants". We observed a large amount of ice on those rotatig blades...
Almost back to home base with such mixed emotions. This was such a beautiful ride.

We arrived back at the truck where Michelle had done a lot of reading for school!  The kids have this week off for Spring Break, but Michelle really keeps on top of her work!  She enjoyed sitting in the truck with the Scotties while we rode, but she wanted to ride “for about an hour”.   Ben agreed to ride with her on over to Barne’s Corners, so after loading Mark’s sled on the trailer,  the kids were off!  Mark and I drove on over to Barne’s Corners in the truck to meet them. 

After leaving our parking area, within maybe a half a mile,  all the snow disappeared!  It wasn’t until we came closer to Barne’s Corners that the snow reappeared!  (and it was pretty deep, too!)

As we left to drive over to Barnes Corners to meet the kids, we saw the BIGGEST flock of seagulls swarming near the landfill!

Well, as you can see from this lot located in Barne's Corners, we weren't te only ones out enjoying a "farewell" ride. Although there is copious amounts of snow in the woods, the surrounding areas are getting pretty well worn down.  After this week's promised rain, much of the snow will turn to slush and the trails will no longer be so nice.  So, farewell, snowmobiling! We could not have enjoyed it any more!!!

As you can see by the parking lot at Barne’s Corners, we were not the only ones out enjoying this day!  With the promised rains and rising temperatures this week,  the trails will soon turn to mush and no longer be very nice to ride. It is so hard to say good-bye to this enjoyable sport.  Snowmobiling takes one to places one would never see to see sights that are unrivaled!  We could not have enjoyed this season any more!!!

Just to Celebrate…

the fact that I am feeling so greatly improved, Mark decided to celebrate!

Our snow has greatly diminished to the point there really isn’t much riding to be done in our neck of the woods.  Knowing that our snowmobiling days are numbered,  we thought we would take a drive to “The North Country” as the trails are still in very good condition. 

If you have read here for any length of time,  you will know that our family enjoys traveling to Lewis County, where not only snowmobiling, but also ATV riding is much more permissible than in any other area of New York State.  So, we headed off toward Barnes Corners this morning.

We were able to park in a restaurant parking lot right near the trail.  The day was mild with the temperature just above the freezing mark.  There was a brisk wind blowing, but the sunshine bathed everything and made the chill factor nearly imperceivable.

As we began our ride, we ran into some “snirt” (snow+dirt) but in was minimal.  Ben had gone off ahead of us as Mark often asks him to do, so he could check out the trail ahead.  Mark and I made our way down the beautiful trail.  We hadn’t gone out for more than ten minutes when a party of five snowmobilers came toward us from the opposite direction.  The leader of this group was a total idiot, flying past us so fast, he couldn’t even use hand signals to indicate sleds were following.  Mark and I were both appalled, but continued on.  As we drove along, Ben passed us coming from the opposite direction, but as there was no place to turn around, he continued on. 

Mark and I came to the intersection below and we awaited for Ben for a good ten minutes or so.  As we thought about the maniac that had passed us previously, we began to worry. What if he had turned around and smacked into Ben?

Mark urged me to follow him and we turned around to look for Ben.  We found him along the trail, along with two Sherriff deputies!  Ben was having some trouble starting his sled and the policemen were stopped nearby.  Finally, Ben got his sled turned over and we turned around and headed back on our way.

The trails are marked quite well…

The deputies passed us as we made our way along the trail and when we saw them parked up ahead, I pulled over and asked about the speed limit.  I told them about the maniac and they said they were looking for him….apparently his careless skills were already reported by someone else.   As we waved good-bye to the deputies, I was happy to know they were on the trails.  It is nice to know they are there to promote safety, even though they confided it wasn’t worth it to chase after the maniac with poor driving skills. I guess they knew that he was likely to come back down the trail later on…

The following are just random photos taken throughout the day.

The next photo shows just how deep the snow is in some places along the trail!

I am unsure what this tower is…Ben said it looks like an observatory.  I had thought it was a water tower, but there is no pipe up to the top.

Just a stone’s throw from the tower is the Montague Inn.  As you can see, there are more snowmobiling customers than otherwise! This is common anywhere there is a restaurant/bar along the trail system.

A treat riding this system is that one can ride right along the windfarm!

Views as we descended down into Lowville…

Where we live, it is fairly unusual to come anywhere too close to a town.  This trail, however, led right down into a parking lot in Lowville! There were a couple other “parking areas” for the town where snowmobilers could park and then walk into the town! We parked a few minutes and Ben walked on over to McDonald’s and got sandwiches for Mark and himself! As we left the parking lot, I just had to photograph this sign.  The sun was hitting it “just so” to cause a rainbow on it!

We drove back up the way we came down.  Interestingly enough,  the trail winds through a farm, right behind the barn!  There is a sign there remining folks to “Be quiet”!

We wanted to go down near Whetstone Gulf State Park, where we love to go camping in the summer.  The (secondary) trail we took was quite the ride….full of “whoops”!

And on and on we went.  We met up with this pair of folks.  Guess what?  This is a pair of (female and male) Sherriff’s deputies.  They were on the trail making sure no one was speeding or driving carelessly! Love it!

We drove on and on.  As we came to this sign,  it was a welcome sight,  signalling the fact that we were now entering territory near where we parked. 

We came back to the truck at about 4:45.  In the few hours we were out, we had clocked about eighty miles!  That is the most I have ever done in a day.  Not too bad for one who was so sick not too long ago!

I need to interject at this point that the first two sherriff deputies we met up with at about 11:30 in the morning were still out as we passed them at about 4:30 pm.  I can’t believe they spend their entire day onthe trail system, but it sure was nice to know they are there!

Our weather forecast is for warm air tomorrow with rain (perhaps lots of rain) and then colder air moving in on Sunday, changing to freezing rain, then snow.  Oh the joys of changeable weather this time of the year!

Got Snow?

Mark had anticipated a Friday ride, but things just didn’t work out like we thought. So, yesterday morning, Ben got the sleds loaded onto the trailer early and we were off and running shortly after 9 am. Ben had told me that he and Mark discussed a ride and we would be heading out to Darien Lake to try out their trails.  As we drove along, I asked Mark about why we were heading towards Letchworth and Ben burst into laughter….argh!

We arrived at Letchworth Park and there must have been at least twenty vehicles with sled trailers already parked! I thought perhaps the ride might be a bit disappointing with so many people out, but I was in for a surprise.

Ben and Michelle worked together, uncovering the sleds and then taking them off the trailer.  They worked so fast and we soon were off. Michelle said she would ride at the end, as she had brought along some of her school work to keep her busy.

We drove along through the park…we park at the north end and then ride the length of the park to go out onto trails outside the park.  Last time we rode, we were so impressed by the trails of one club that Mark called and talked to the club president.  We sent money to buy a map from the club and found they do a lot of the trails.  We decided to try out a few.

When we left the park, we began traveling along through farm fields.  The snow that was falling became quite windblown and you can see it was getting a bit hard to see!

We headed toward the Village of Perry.

I don’t know as I have ever been so close to a water tower before!

The sun was truly making a gallant effort to poke through the falling snow, but…

This was when Mark stopped Ben and I and insisted we turn back. Ben and I balked, but Mark was insistent.  We needed to turn back.  Ben and I srugged our shoulders, and back we went…

Ben cleaned off the sign below…

It reads: Use of this trail is a privelege & not a right

The only really scary part of the journey to me was when we had to cross a road, but they were mostly secondary and completely snow covered.  Had a car been coming, we could see their lights! I was surprised at one point to actually see a car stop and motion a group of snowmobiles to cross!

This was a “pile of artwork” sitting mext to me as I stopped and looked to make sure a road was clear.  I guess it could be defined as a windblown snowbank!

We returned to the park and saw something strange…..

Yup. Blue skies! At this point, I had only had a piece of toast and a cup of tea for breakfast….I mentioned I was hungry.  Mark wanted to stop to check his map, so we pulled in to a lodgeparking lot at Letchworth.  There was a hill where they rented tubes and kids were sliding down the hill.  Suddenly, we smelled hotdogs and hamburgers cooking! Mark sent Ben over with some money…

As Mark and I waited, we discussed why snowmobilers often have tiny windshields! Ours are big and they were totally covered in droplets of ice!

As I have mentioned before, we don’t actually look through the windshields, so that is a good thing.

Mark got Ben, himself, and I these really cool bags that fit onto the handlebars of the sleds! They can hold a lot of stuff, including my camera and cell phone!  It is so much easier to grab my camera from the bag than to fish it out of my coat pocket!

Did you happen to notice the green buttons on the handlebars?  The one on the left is to warm the hand grips. The one on the right is to warm the throttle, so one’s right thumb stays warm.  These are so useful!  I cannot immagine how cold our hands would get without these warmers!

After our little snack, we went off once again.

We wound up near the railroad bridge near Lower Falls.  I walked down the road a bit as snowmobiles aren’t allowed in this area.  There is a trail that runs parallel to the road, but it was cordoned off.  I suppose that is in case there was ice on the trail….one slip and a person could end up tumbling down into the water…I could hear the falls below, but being so short, I was unable to see over the banks of snow.

And we learned something new about the railroad bridge…

Wow, that sign is old, being place there in 1935!

We rode outside the park a bit and instead of a blizzard, we actually saw some sun and blue skies!

As we drove north through the park,  it was a pretty ride!

We did see a number of folks riding as we were out on the trails, and everyone was so great!   When we encountered some narrow trails that were only a sled wide,  riders saw us on the other side and motioned for us to go ahead and cross first.  Everyone was using signals to let us know how many riders were in their group and when the last rider approached, they used the appropriate signal.  We were so impressed!  We hadn’t ridden on weekend days before as we thought it might be a mess!

Near the north end of the park, we came upon three seperate police officers riding the trails.  Yes, there are officers who check registration tags and make sure riders are riding safely on New York’s trails!

All in all, this was a great ride!

What Lovely Weather for a Sled Ride!

As I said last night, we spent a few hours yesterday riding through Letchworth State Park and beyond!  It was so wonderful and I got some nice photos of Letchworth…

At the south end of the park, we decided to take a “trip”!

The trails of the Oatka Valley Snowmobile Club are fantastic!  The trail markers could not be any more explicit, and the grooming was out of this world! What a ride!

Now in the photo above, I had stopped to take Mark’s photo, and as I crossed the road, I noticed tire marks going across the road. Aha! No wonder the trails were so superb!

There were two fellows in the groomer and they looked like they were out enjoying the weather as much as we were! We passed them by and traveled on ungroomed trails that lead through many farm fields. They were awesome! We came to this crossroads and decided to go….where else?  Bliss!

Click on the photo below to see a HUGE wind farm! I don’t think I knew this existed, although we might have seen it in previous travels. There are lots of generators there!

After over 30 miles from where we began, we reached Bliss!

We only were there long enough to fill our gas tanks and then we were off again. It was getting a tad late in the afternoon and we didn’t have permits to ride Letchworth at night.  I sure would have to receive a citation for not having a sticker!

I don’t like taking photos of homes. I think it is kind of invasive, but!  This was a camper with a slideout that looked like someone lives in!  I was totally fascinated.  At the end of the camper was a large trailer for storage.  Outside that was a small wind generator with the fins going round and round!  I turned green with jealousy! I would love to live like that, but in a tiny house instead of a camper.  To be self-sufficient has been a dream of mine for a very long time.

Note the “big me” in the lower left hand corner of the above photo! hehehe

We got back to the truck shortly before 6:00 and Ben, Mark, and I were all so tired!  It takes a good half an hour to get the sleds on the trailer with their covers and fastening them on.  We stopped at McDonald’s for a quick bite and arrived home at nearly 9:00! 

What an awesome day this was to ride and we plan to revisit this area.  We have not seen such nice trails before and everyone was so friendly! 

Oh, and one aside….There are certain “signals” that are used on trails.  Usually, the front rider motions his hand up in the air, waving back and forth to signify more sleds following.  If the group is small,  the lead sledder might hold up fingers to say maybe “3” or “4” sleds following.   The riders in the center don’t need to use any signals, and the “last man out” is to raise his or her left fist in the air to signify such.

As Mark and Ben came down a rather steep slope,  I had stopped to take a photo at the top.  When I finished, I scrambled a bit to catch up. As I was reaching th bottom, there was a large area where Mark and Ben had stopped and were waiting for me. 

I came down off the slope just as what looked like five young men were going up the hill.  I raised my fist to signal I was “last man out” and to my total surprise, three of them leaned their sleds towrds mine and stretched their hands out to give me a “high five”!  The last guy tried to come close enough but just kind of waved. 

By the time I reached Mark and Ben, they were wide-eyed and laughing hysterically!  They had never seen anything quite like that before!  It was pretty awesome, and so far, everyone we talk to about sledding seems quite passionate about “their sport”!

A Wonderful Winter’s Day!

Late this morning,  Mark wondered if we would like to take a ride on the snowmobiles. Ben and I both thought this sounded like a great idea, whereas Michelle said she had allotted today to her college studies.

Mark, Ben, and I loaded everything into the truck and we went off to a park located several miles from home. When we arrived,  Mark took a spin around the parking lot in the truck.  He was less than impressed and as we saw cross country skiers going out onto the trail, we decided to leave.  Although there are many areas where snowmobiles must share the trails with skiers and the like,  these particular trails just looked too small to share!

Mark suggested we might take a ride to Letchworth again.  Ben was immediately on board with that idea.  I had so much “stuff” to do at home, but figured it would wait.  Beautiful blue skies and sunshine might not!

We cruised around Letchworth and even took a longe ride, but truth be told, I am too whipped to resize and upload photos!  I will do that tomorrow,  but in the meantime, here are some from around the house. 

Although those look very weird, the tracks are from Michelle venturing up to the swingset the other day.  After our little “meltdown” the other day, the tracks became distorted and I thought they look cool!

Now, if I told you today’s weather was bright and sunny, would you believe me?

As I was walking into the house after arriving home this evening,  I noticed the little solar light in the side yard. That first photo was taken with flash, showing how the lamp is “up to its neck” in snow.  I took a second photo without the flash just to show that we did indeed have sunshine here!

I must admit I removed the snow the other day that was on top of the light where the collector is located. My little light is so brave, shining like that!

I’ll post today’s ride tomorrow!

Another View of Letchworth State Park

I featured small but beautiful Letchworth State Park here last summer.  We were so surprised to rediscover this gem so nearby.  When we were looking at snowmobiles last fall, we spoke to a dealer who told us that Letchworth is awesome in the winter for snowmobiling.

As Mark is always given to doing, he called the trail coordinator who grooms Letchworth trails and asked how the trails were.  When he was told they were in fine shape, Ben loaded the sleds and we were off!

Letchworth’s “heart” is the Genesee River Valley which runs through the park, featuring steep cliffs and scenic gorges. Letchworth abounds with scenic areas, but to me, they are more outstanding in the winter.  Without the foliage, the cliffs seem even steeper, the evergreens even greener, and everything in general seems more awesome.

We were able to park in a huge unplowed parking lot where a few other trailers had done so previously.  We unloaded and were ready to ride.  The first miles, the snowmobile trails run parallel to the park roads, with some “ditchbanging”. (riding right next to the road, or on the road)

Rather quickly, snowmobilers come to this sign which indicates that the fun begins!

The signs below are designated snowmobile trails, or corridors, sanctioned by New York State.

As one can see, a vehicle larger than a snowmobile just isn’t going to fit through!

Although the park is handicap-accessible,  there are so many places to stop and see the scenery, it would take a day of just loading and unloading a wheelchair to be able to see the scenery.  Some areas are impossible to get a wheelchair in, so this ride was so incredible for Mark; he could see everything we saw!

The ride on the road was luxurious!  The snow was fantastic, the base was firm and well established, and it was so nice! We saw several sleds out,  but they were pretty much few and far between.  There is a section with a huge wall built of stone…as we passed by it,  I loved how the snow had stuck to it, forming a pretty pattern!

It’s fun to take a ride like this because one sees things normally missed! And, I could take pictures! (I did have to hurry, though, as the riders I was with could end up far, far ahead, were I to lolligag!)

At one scenic area,  Mark told me there was this really awesome “blue ice” on the walls of the cliffs.  I said I would photograph it….he and Ben had already ridden around there, so as I went in to take photos, they took off!

I did catch up!  Then we took a ride through the woods!

Mark stopped and turned around to me. Without saying a word, he motioned ahead….

Snowmobilers must be mindful of the deer!  A collision with a deer could be quite detrimental! We went a short distance and this single deer stood, looking back.

Behind it was a group of deer!

We drove past District 12 Schoolhouse.

By this time, we were prety much at the south end of the park. It was getting to be late afternoon, and we needed to travel back to the truck.  Michelle had stayed there with a backpack full of school books and a pair of Scottie dogs!

We arrived back to the truck at about five o’clock.  I was tired and I felt like I had swollen glands, so I was happy to climb into the truck with Michelle and the Scotties.  We sat and talked for awhile, as Ben and Mark drove off “for just a short ride” headed north.  Michelle suddenly decided she wanted to ride, so she hopped into her snowpants, popped on her helmet and goggles, a pair of gloves…..and off she went down the trail Ben and Mark had taken!

I sat enjoying doing a bit of reading and relaxing, when I suddenly began to wonder where they had gone!  The impending darkness was beginning to settle in, and although it is possible to ride in the park in the dark,  permits must be obtained from the park police.  As the sky grew darker and darker, I wondered where my family might be!

Mark had taken my camera from me when he left.  Finally, after six o’clock, the trio showed up once again at the truck! It seems Michelle wanted to ride some, so they had gone several miles with her! Ben and Mark took her to one of the scenic lookouts and Mark took a photo….

Yeah, they do indeed look like ALIENS!!!! You, dear reader, can see that it was getting quite dark, as the reflective tape on Ben’s jacket was reflecting as the flash went off!

This was so much fun. The temperature was actually warm and the ride was smooth! We all had a great day! This is definitely a “we need to come back again” ride!

The Weather IS the News

Yes, indeedy! We are having weather!

Yesterday afternoon, we trailered the snowmobiles to another snowbelt region a little more than an hour away, to our east.  Mark had called the trail coordinator and talked with him; it seemed the trails were in great condition.

We stopped at an orchard and bought a trail map so we were all set. The most unique part of this experience was that we could unload the sleds in a shopping plaza.  Before this, it seemed like the only places to unload were in the boonies. Right next to this plaza was a Pizza Hut, too.

We headed on out and had a short jaunt “over the river and through the woods”. After hitting one of the main corridors, the riding was awesome.  We passed scenery similar to the last ride and there were lots and lots of open fields.  I always enjoy reading the signs the local clubs install along the ride….Stay on the trail, or stay home!  and This is a privilege, not a right!

Just a few photos.

We rode a good distance bur something very strange happened for the first time to me on this ride.  My fingers and toes felt like they were frozen!  The hand warmers, which usually keep the digits toasty warm were failing me!  I was downright uncomfortable, but didn’t want to complain!

Along the trail, the map I bought split in half while Mark was looking at it, so when we passed by the orchard, I stopped to exchange it.  When I went inside, the man who was there earlier was not there.  I asked the lady there about trails and she said she doesn’t sled, so was clueless.  She mentioned the man who was there before had just left on his snowmobile, as he had to make an appearance at a sled party.  Then she said something curious! She told me he had waited as long as he felt comfortable in leaving as it is so very cold outside!

We went back to the truck and I helped Mark take off the snowmobile clothing while Ben loaded the sleds.  I helped Ben a little in securing the sleds and putting on their covers.  By the time Ben and I got into the truck, I felt so cold, I could hardly stand it.  I know I have been equally as cold before, but this was really, really on the verge of painful!

On the drive home, we stopped to grab supper and that helped warm things up a little. As we drove along, the temperature kept going down, down, down, to the point of -5 at home.  Oh, that was cold!

The last time I looked at the clock, the time read 8:46.  I awakened again at about 3:30.  Since I hadn’t loaded the stove before heading to bed, it was beginning to chill in the house.  I loaded the stove and then, instead of going to bed, I was up for the day.  Oh my!

The temperature did eventually bound up into the teens today.  Tomorrow, the temperature is forecast to climb above freezing.  Oh how fickle…New York weather is so amazing!