In recent weeks, our Friday Fast Five has included Andy Swanson’s five favorite places he’s ever ridden snowmobiles, David Wells’ five best places to ride in the East and then Wells’ five next-best places to ride in the East. It got me to thinking about my own riding experiences, but not in the way you might think.
I’m quickly rolling toward my 20th winter as a part of the Snow Goer staff, and that has allowed me to ride a lot of cool places all across North America, from Maine and New Hampshire to Oregon and British Columbia, and just about everywhere in between. I’m not bragging (OK, maybe just a little), but it’s been a cool part of the job, and one of the main things that has kept me here all of these years.
That said, there are several places relatively close to home that I have never ridden before. Laying in bed one recent night, I thought of five right off the top of my head – and those five are the subject of this week’s Friday’s Fast Five here on snowgoer.com. They are the 5 Upper Midwestern Snowmobile Destinations On My Wish List.
1) Minnesota Bluff Country – About a dozen years ago, I sent my then-coworker and still-friend Lynn Keillor on a tour story in the southeast quadrant of Minnesota. She came back with awesome photos and great stories of the rugged terrain that doesn’t always get snow, but when it does the riding there is fabulous. For a dozen years, I’ve been pledging to go see it myself, but I never have. I’ve got to make that change this winter.
2) Northern Lower Michigan – I could be your tour guide in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and in many areas I swear I could do it blindfolded. That’s how much I’ve ridden up there. But I have something horrible to admit: I’ve never pulled a rope south of the Mackinac Bridge. I’ve had several freelancers and staff members do great stories on riding in areas like Gaylord, Traverse City, Muskegon or countless other locations, but I have never experienced it myself. Let’s hear it Michiganders: If I made one trip south of the bridge, where should I go?
3) Northern Ontario – I have had some great rides in Ontario, most notably an awesome Snow Train adventure as part of a Decker Tour a couple of years ago. But I’ve never ridden directly north of Minnesota, in the area between Kenora and Thunder Bay, for example. Our Associate Editor Tom Kaiser was planning to get up there last winter for a story, and I was thinking of tagging along, but then the dreaded Snowless Winter of 2011-12 changed all of those plans. Maybe this winter will change all of that?
4) Door County, Wisconsin – Much like the Michigan U.P., I have ridden pretty much everywhere in Wisconsin, and have several personal favorites (including the Cable-Hayward area and the Black River Falls area). But I have only experienced Door County in the summer. I’ve seen the trail markers, I’ve even ridden rental bicycles (y-a-w-n!) through some of the forests, but I’ve yet to get over there with motorized vehicles.
5) Minnesota Farm Country – This one is personal. From 1990 until 1993, I had the great pleasure of working for a daily newspaper in Willmar, Minnesota, which I enjoyed immensely. One snowy winter in particular, I had a few co-workers who regularly rode their sleds to work at the paper, but I was poor and fresh out of college, so I didn’t have my own sled just then. I would talk sleds all the time with those co-workers, and when I left, they told me to come back sometime soon to ride there great trails, particularly those that connected areas like Spicer and Glenwood. I’ve planned that trip about four times over the years but have never made it due to schedule conflicts or low snow. It’s time for me to get back to this fine and often forgotten part of the state.
So, what’s on your relatively-close-to-home, I-can’t-believe-I-haven’t-ridden-there-yet wish list?