Monday, March 24, 2008

And the stupidest thing YOU'VE ever done?

I grew up mostly in Alaska and Colorado. Winter sports capitals, right? Maybe when I was younger. My dad was a big outdoorsy type, lots of fishing, hunting, camping, ice skating, skiing, ice fishing, sledding, etc. My mom? Not so much. So when they divorced, when I was 6, my outdoors education came to an abrupt end. While I may have started out as a tomboy, I very quickly became as citified as I could get. John, however, grew up in rural Oklahoma. His mom's family surrounded him, and his dad's family was up the in the wilds of Minnesota, so he got a thorough education in all things outdoors. One of our goals when we moved here was to spend more outdoors time with our kids, and to get us some "toys" to help with that goal. And so, about 2 weeks ago, we bought snowmachines.

Now, some people may disagree with the way we went about this, but we thought it was best. We went out and bought the oldest, ugliest machines we could find that were still in running condition. We had many reasons for this, mostly centered around the fact that neither one of us was an experienced rider, and if we were going to break something, we much preferred it to be an old crappy machine we didn't really care about, as opposed to a nice new machine that cost more than my car. John had spent quite a bit of time on snowmachines when vacationing in Minnesota in his youth, but not much since then. The last time he rode was over 10 years ago. Me on the other hand, well, I've never even seen one up close. A word of advice to all of you: A few months shy of your thirtieth birthday is not really a good age to take up this particular hobby. Let me set the scene for you:

We had been trying, ever since we bought them, to find somewhere with enough snow left to take them out and test them. Yesterday, we discovered a nice spot about 2 hours away from the house. We saw the tracks running along the highway, and came upon a turnout with several empty trailers, so figured what the heck, looks good. We pull in, and a few other people come in behind us. Everyone is unloading these gorgeous, snazzy new machines - and looking at us like we are the worlds biggest idiots. (Turns out they were right, but we didn't know that at the time.) We finally heave our old dilapidated machines off the trailer, and commence the starting up process. They are a PAIN to start, like an old lawnmower that doesn't feel like working anymore. Anyway, finally got them started. Now, I wanted to go to the right, where I had been watching all the other people go, and where I had seen the trail from the highway. John, however, decided we needed to go to the left, where there was only one lonely track that had been snowed over a couple of times and could barely be seen. His logic? Less people and less chance of us hitting anyone. My thinking? Let's go where everyone else has been so we know there's no water underneath us. Needless to say, he won. So, over the embankment we went. At the bottom, we came to a rather sudden stop. It seems that all the warm weather we have been having has softened the snow crust, and therefore putting a heavy object on it makes you sink. So off we get to dig them out. Snow up to my waist, I'm tugging and pushing on this poor machine for all I'm worth. Turns out that the older machines do have one serious drawback - they have much shorter bodies, less height, and less lug depth. Which basically means, if you aren't on a well-packed trail, you aren't moving. A rather grueling hour later, we get them both unstuck, turned around, and back up the embankment. At this point, John says maybe I was right, and off we go on the path to the right.

I am actually beginning to enjoy myself at this point, all the way up until I hit my first big series of bumps. My right foot slides right off the running board, and gets stuck in the snow. As I can feel myself being pulled off the machine, I get a death grip on the handlebars to pull myself back up. Bad idea. See, when I grabbed the handlebars, my hand covered the throttle. So, not only was I still moving, I was moving FASTER. So here I am, holding on the to handlebars, sliding all over the seat on my belly, legs flying straight out behind me, can't see anything but the gas tank right in front of my face. I finally muscle myself back upright on the seat, whimper a little about my pulled groin muscle and twisted knee, and keep going. We get to the end of the trail and have to turn around. I go up the embankment and back down, and while the snowmachine makes it through the turn, I don't. Off the side I go, rolling about 10 feet before I finally come to a stop, face first in 4 feet of snow. After I dig myself back out, we resume the ride. Over all, we went through the trail several times, and those were my only major accidents, so I guess I did OK.

This morning, however, was a whole different story. I hurt, like I haven't hurt in years. I found muscles that haven't been used in decades. My right side is one giant owie. My arms are so sore I could barely get dressed this morning. My back is resolving into one big ache. Surprisingly, my legs are OK, my knee only hurting when I'm on the stairs, so I didn't do as much damage to it as I thought I had at the time.

So tell me, what idiotic stunts have you pulled, thinking you were still in the prime of youth?

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