My husband's cousin (Ron) and his friend (Paul), who are avid snowmobilers came up from downstate to do some of what they love best. Our house is "Station Central" between their trips out in the woods to different areas to snowmobile. We were glad to do this for them as they are fun people and we only get to see them every couple years and enjoy our time with them.
Unfortunately, this year, Ron's friend (Paul) had a snowmobile mechanical problem and it ended their adventure early. They came back to our house for a few days before heading home.
So one night, Ron asked me if I wanted to go on his (working) sled to ride our lake. I was excited because we ride our lake all spring, summer and fall (and LOVE IT) but I had never seen what our lake looks like in the winter. I have been thinking lately of getting a snowmobile to do this, so of course I said yes!
Scene: about a half hour before sunset, on beautiful Lake Michigamme. Temperature about 18 degrees, slightly sunny out.
Ron: So, Joan, do you want to go out with me on the lake and take a ride around on the snowmobile now?
ME (trying not to hyperventilate from happiness): Heck, yes!
Ron: Dress warm, there is a breeze out there.
Joan: I just bought some snowpants to go snowshoeing in...I can break them in. Do you have a helmet for me?
Ron: (slightly rolling eyes, probably thinking I was dumber than he originally thought because every snowmobiler KNOWS you gotta wear a helmet): You can probably use Paul's (his friend).
Paul: Yes, you can probably use mine..your head isn't big is it?
Me (thinking immediately of the movie: So I Married an Ax Murderer, where he keeps telling the kid he has a big heed (head) in Irish accents): I think it will fit..let's try.
Paul: here, put on this knit hat....
Me (not out loud): (This looks exactly like what bank robbers wear!)
Paul: And here, let's push the helmet over that...we'll try to see if you can get it on and off.
Me (still thinking, not saying out loud): Cripes. We are gonna experiment to see if it comes off? What if I get it stuck on???? I am NOT going to my local E.R. where everyone KNOWS me if I can't get it off, because I don't want to be this week's humor on Facebook, thank you very much!
Me (but actually out loud this time, but weakly): Ummm...okay.....
Paul puts both on me and laughs.
Followed my Ron and my hubby laughing.
Followed me me, not so much.
Me: Okay, I'll go get dressed up in the rest of the gear.
I come out, complete in snowpants, snow jacket, robber's mask and helmet, along with my clunky but warm winter boots. (Picture the Michilein Tire Man, only bigger. Or perhaps the JetPuff Marshmallow Man monster from Ghostbusters (only puffier)).
All three of them continue to laugh.
Followed by me being afraid to laugh, because I am not wearing Depends and I've got a LOT of layers on people!
Paul: You look like an Eskimo. Can you even bend to get ON the snowmobile?
Me (almost sticking out tongue at Smarty Pants Paul, and sweating big time by now because I am wearing, oh..about 50 pounds of clothes, boots, hats, & man snowmobile helmet. Also, wishing they had windshield wipers on the inside of snowmobile helmets to remove said sweat): Yes! I think so....
So, out we go to get on his snowmobile.
As I head out the door, I wave at my hubby who is now doubled over laughing with Paul, the helmet torturer. They hear me ask Ron:
Me: Do you have enough gas in that thing? Our lake is really big you know, seven miles long with all kinds of "fingers" we can also ride to.
Ron (rolling eyes under his helmet, thinking I don't know he's rolling eyes, says politely and patiently): Yes. Besides I always carry extra in this here plastic thingy at the end of the seat.
Me: Okay, tell me when you want me to get on....
Ron: Let's go!
Ron climbs on confidently.
I try to swing my short, stubby right leg over the wide seat of his snowmobile behind him.
I try again.
I try a third time and am successful, but thinking to myself that maybe Depends might have been a good plan after all.
I hang on for dear life with my thick gloves around his chest, which I can't do too well because I have ten pounds of clothes between us.
He starts the machine, which responds immediately with a LOUD sound that rumbled in my ears, even through the space-Apollo-mission-like helmet and robber's mask.
This is accompanied by the putrid smell of oil mixed with gas and a blue-cloud-of-successfully-starting-up-your-hotrod-snowmobile.
He hits the gas.
It nearly jerks me off the snowmobile, at which point I pinch his chest nipples hard through his snowmobile suit for extra traction to stay on the vehicle.
Ron (smiling (I think) under his helmet. Although it could very well be wincing from the death grip I have on his chest nipples at this point from take off).
So, we ride at about 75 miles per hour to the right side of our lake, all the way down.
And then he does a sharp turn (at which point my ass is airborn and no longer ON the seat and I am just gripping on to his chest at this point like the reins on a horse).
We get straight again, and I (luckily) land back on the seat behind him after the 180 degree turn at 75 mph and we now go 80 miles an hour straight down the lake in the other direction.
At this point, I sorta wished I had not worn the jacket or gloves I had chosen for the adventure.
The ICE cold air was blowing directly up from my wrists to my elbows, causing it to look like billowing popeye arms from the windpocket it was forming. My hands were already numb from the cold air blowing on them in front.
We proceed speeding down the lake.
The sun is rapidly setting.
I motion to him to notice some gorgeous cabins on the lake and we circle some of the islands to look.
I motion that we may want to head back (because now it is starting to really get dusk and my fingers almost don't bend anymore). (But dang, that robber's mask and helmet are still toasty warm, I marvel!)
He nods in agreement.
Snowmobile: Sputter, sputter, cough, cough.......STOP DEAD.
Wind: HOWL, HOWL
Sun: Snickering and sinking fast.
Me (panic arising in my throat, frantically looking at how far we were from either shore of the lake): Um....what's wrong?
Ron (hopping off snowmobile): BOTH our snowmobiles couldn't have died in the same week, it's impossible! I am not really sure...here, let me take a look.
Me (swallowing a small amount of vomity-tasting saliva from the back of my throat): O.K.
Ron (lifting a million hidden hoods and compartments of the snowmobile): You know, I can't really tell for sure.
At this point, he goes to the back of the snowmobile and opens a plastic container behind my seat and says under his breath:
Ron: Are you KIDDING ME????
Me ( genuinely afraid now to ask): What?
Ron: I usually have this container FULL of gas, I cannot believe it is empty!!!
Me: Did your gas guage say it has gas in the tank?
Ron: This stupid gas guage hasn't worked on this thing since I got it. That is why I always carry some in this container!
Me: The one behind me? The one that is empty?
Ron: (nods yes).
Me: Ummmmm....see those houses closest to us? Do you see lights on? Because I don't think they are many year-round residents this time of year on this part of the lake that stay in them.
Me (wondering now if I can physically even walk in my eskimo suit with the one and 1/2 feet of snow covering the ice on the lake, and frantically scanning the shoreline for any signs of life in the cabins and houses on the shore that we can barely see and scanning the sky for the setting sun to see how much time I have before I die): I don't see those other snowmobilers that we saw earlier on the lake out here anymore, do you?
Ron (deep in thought and I am sure humiliation for originally rolling his eyes when I asked if we HAD ENOUGH GAS before we started out on this frozen tundra!): Nope.
Ron whips out his cellphone to call his friend Paul and my hubby back at the house.
Ron (to Paul): Ummm. You aren't going to believe this, but we've run into some trouble out here...I think my snowmobile died....what are the chances of BOTH of our snowmobiles dying in the same week, huh? (he listens for a response and continues): Well, let me monkey with it some more and I'll get back to you...but we might need a little help.....
He hangs up.
Just then, I squint and SWEAR I see a little mini snowplow heading our direction from the north of the lake. I brush it off, thinking it is just the first sign of my impending hypothermia death setting in, and that I probably shouldn't fight it.
I start itemizing my worldly possessions, wondering if my husband will give all my jewelry to my kids (who won't know a real diamond from a cubic zirconia and will probably give Goodwill all my expensive stuff because they won't want to wear it anyway)....
Apparently, Ron and I are dying at exactly the same rate, or he really sees it TOO!
As it gets closer, I recognize that some idiot had ridden his four wheeler with chains on the tires out in the middle of the lake. (God, I LOVE IDIOTS!!!!)
It gets closer and it is my crazy neighbor!
He pulls up, grinning, holding a Budweiser beer.
Neighbor: Hey! Who is that under those helmets?
Me (identifying myself): Is that YOU? What are you doing out here with your FOUR WHEELER???
Neighbor: Oh, Joan, it's YOU!!! I was on my way out to check a buddy's house across the lake...you guys having trouble? You can hop on and I can ride you in...but this thing is giving me a little trouble too..been sputtering a bit...and I think maybe the snow is a little deep for it...but we can try..no guarantees any of us will get in to shore..hahahahaaaaa...hey, you wanna beer?
Ron and I both look at each other and wonder if we should just go ahead and die here by our snowmobile where they can identify our bodies more easily or if we should go on the neighbor's ride and when they find all three bodies and all his beer, be labeled forever as "those drunk people who died on the lake" along with him.
As we ponder our death choices, I again hallucinate. I see two snowmobiles across the lake coming our direction.
Even my beer drinking four-wheelin' neighbor looks in the same direction as me.
Me: Oh, thank the heavens..here comes some snowmobilers to SAVE us!!
We all start frantically waving our arms. Well, THEY DO. (When you look like an eskimo, there is only so much arm movement one can physically muster up. Like ten degrees, if you are lucky).
Neighbor: Yeah. Maybe they are gonna end up helping me too, if this thing gives me more trouble.
Two snowmobilers (part Angel, I am sure at this point!) pull up.
Snowmobiler #1: Having trouble? Need a tow?
Snowmobilier #2 was silent. As I recall, he never spoke the entire time we were with them.
So Ron goes on to explain our dilemma and says: I am not sure what is wrong with my sled, but just to be safe, do either of you have any extra gas with you?
Snowmobiler #1: Yes, I do.
Ron: Can we borrow some from you, we'd sure appreciate it.
Snowmobiler #1: Sure, I think I have a gallon or so.
Ron and him go to his sled and then to Ron's sled and put some in. In the meantime, my neighbor has siddled up next to me, rather close and puts his arm around me, as he chats with the snowmobiler, telling them the trouble his four wheeler is giving him and sipping beer.
Neighbor: I think I might've groped you a little bit there, Joan....right through your snowmobile gear. Hahahahaaaaa.....
Me: G-r-r-r-r. Yeah. Ha ha. Nothing like making a move on a lady full of snowmobile suit!
Ron starts up his sled. Vaaaa-rrrooooooom! It is perfect. No sputtering, no hiccuping. He whips out his wallet and pays Snowmobiler #1, and thanks him.
Ron: We better get in, its getting dark.
Me: Thanks Guys!!!!! Thanks so much...
Me (to my groping neighbor): Do you want us to see if you make it to the shore with your machine?
Neighbor: Nope, I think it is fine...it is still running....sure you don't want a beer?
Me: Let's go Ron!!! Thanks again, guys!!!!
I LEAP on the snow machine now (because obviously being scared shit of dying, frozen solid from the icy breeze blowing up my snowmobile suit and OVER being groped through my suit by my beer-drinking, crazy neighbor) suddenly made me flexible enough to get on the machine now without second thought or effort.
We arrive a few minutes later (by my pointing directions to go to Ron as we speed home on the snowmobile in the near-dark frozen tundra) to the front of our property on the lake.
I say some very sincere prayers to every Saint they made me memorize in church when I was little (and added a few more to The Force, and his Son for good measure), get off the snowmobile and RUN into the house as Ron drives his snowmobile into his snowmobile trailer in the driveway.
Inside Ron's friend Paul and my hubby seem surprised to see me.
Paul: Umm...we got a frantic call and then...nothing....we didn't know if we should call someone...no one ever called us to say you got it started or anything...we were starting to get worried!
Feeling sorry that no one thought of that in the middle of the lake whilst praying to the Gods, I apologized. But not before I noticed that they were having a mixed drink and had started dinner and having a high old time in that nice warm house, with the fireplace going....in fact they even had Brownies baking in the oven. I began to wonder if they even REMEMBERED that we had placed a distress call to them just 15 minutes earlier??!!!
But NOT before I had to quickly add: NO, RON JUST RAN OUT OF GAS! You know, the gas I had ASKED HIM about BEFORE we headed out...remember THAT???
Paul and my hubby crack up laughing......
Ron came in with his tail between his legs...but smiling now too.
it was SO worth it!!!!
I can tease Ron about this for the rest of his life.
Right after I ask him if he is SURE he has enough gas.....
and my neighbor?
Let's just say that if I have mechanical problems while mowing my lawn on the rider mower this summer....and if perchance he rides by on his four wheeler again (hopefully this time withOUT the chains on the tires) to stop and help?
I will have far less clothes on, so I will keep the vehicles between us the ENTIRE TIME.
But dadburnit, I am gonna TAKE that beer he offers.....
*and Ron and Paul? If you are reading this, there will be no retractions! Just be glad I didn't post that picture of you on this blogpost (especially, you Paul, with your new fur mushing hat!! )I was tempted, but I DID promise I wouldn't put your picture on my blog. But I never promised I wouldn't TELL them about this episode, did I??????
Hey, Ron....have you run out of gas lately???? Bwwaaahahaaaaaa..............................................
*Reminder!: Today is FEB. 22nd...remember to enter a photo to the free Photography Contest. February's theme is "Critter Closeups". Please enter your photo by midnight on Feb. 28th to the address listed in these rules. Best of Luck to all the entries!I will be showing all the entries in an upcoming blogpost and announcing the winner of February's contest by Mar. 15th....stay tuned!!!