Next Issue: January 2020

Print Date: February 5, 2020

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This is more reminiscing than an actual chronological account of man’s efforts to generate an appreciation for some sort of organized snowmobiling, but it is also an acknowledgement of what just one man can accomplish if his heart is pure and his intentions are more for the betterment of his fellow man than for any personal recognition. The man I refer to in this rendering is none other than one William D. Manson, or as most folks know him as, just plain Bill!

I’m very proud to claim, without dispute, that Bill and I have had a very close friendship for more than three decades, and that my daughters consider him and wife Deb as second parents, sometimes seeking considerations when mom and dad would not, or could not, accommodate their wants and wishes. Did I begrudge him this? Absolutely not, because he was always there in support of whatever was best for our kids...I say our kids because my wife and I always looked to their daughter Tara in the same way we did our own. That’s just how it was back then!

So beginning way back in 1983 or maybe it was ’84, Bill was, at that time I believe, the Public Relations Committee Chair and responded to my personal request on what it might take for our little group we had named the Snomads Snofari Club to become involved with the newly formed Michigan Snowmobile Association? Bill responded almost immediately with a couple of “How to” pamphlets and a couple of VCR videos on snowmobile safety and “What You Should Know” when preparing snowmobiling activities. He also provided his phone number and offered to discuss any other concerns I might have… That was just the beginning of what eventually blossomed into the long-lasting relationship we still enjoy to this day.

When Man Becomes a Legend

Stafford's Crooked River Lodge and Suites is nestled in Alanson, on the picturesque Crooked River, part of the famed Inland Waterway. Our family-friendly hotel is within arms reach to recreational trails, river activities, skiing and snowmobiling.

Most of our guest rooms & suites have a private balcony with views of the Crooked River and include a complimentary breakfast. Guests have access to our indoor pool featuring a waterfall and hot tub and is open 24 hours per day. We are also proud to have a number of dog-friendly rooms.

The family activities that surround us are endless! Guests of all ages will enjoy feeding the fish in our private pond or relaxing in our grand lobby, which features fresh popcorn and a welcoming fire while children enjoy the Little Lodge playhouse under the stairs. Guests also enjoy our cozy loft filled with games, a television and comfortable seating.

In the warmer months, guests have access to complimentary paddle boats, kayaks, a fishing dock and can explore northern Michigan at its best on our nature trails.

During the winter, snowshoes are available for exploring the 30 acres surrounding the lodge and our deeded connector gives access to Indian River, Harbor Springs and Mackinaw snowmobile trails.

Spotlight On: Stafford’s Crooked River Lodge and Suites

This is a story I do just about every year. The reason is that it is always a good story. You see, every year, the Les Cheneaux Snowmobile Club has a Snowmobile Safety Class over the Christmas Break. Every year, they invite all the area kids, and adults, to come in and take the Snowmobile Safety Class.

As you know, upon reaching the age of 12, kids have the option of taking a Class, and then getting a Certificate that allows them to legally head out onto the Trails, without having to drag an adult along. For me, I can still remember that time. Almost 50 years ago now. That was like, “Freedom!”. I was off the back yard and the world was mine - more or less. Dad did give me borders. But five miles away was a lot farther then our back yard.

So I totally understand why these kids get so excited. But in this age of the Internet, why go to a real class when you can do it online. The answer was best stated by Joe Paradowski of St. Ignace. He was there with his two brothers, while mom and dad watched. Joe said, “It is way more real when you are here in person. You get a way better experience when you do it in person.”

At 15, Joe was an old hand at this. And, (I love this bit) as a former racer, he had been riding for quite a few years. And, from talking to him, was pretty good with a sled. Catching air and all the fun stuff. But he had two brothers, Andrew and Mike, 12 and 13. They too love to ride. Mom, Sarah, stated, “This is a really good class. The kids get to ask the instructors questions and the instructors really know their stuff.”

Cedarville Club Adds 18 More Snowmobilers To Our World

Even though the weather remained much warmer than usual, the snow-cover had diminished greatly, and the trails had suffered somewhat, with the first hectic holiday behind us and the next just a few days away, we decided we really needed some “we” time, so during the days between Christmas and the New Year, we, my daughter and I, decided it was time to take a bit of free time for ourselves and enjoy some of the trails here in our own Yooper county of Alger, always some of the smoothest in the state thanks in no small part to the volunteers and groomer drivers at Alger County SORVA and at Grand Marais’ Crazy 8’s Club. A shout out also to the clubs and grant sponsors from the neighboring counties that provide the continuity on the trail system, the Seney Snowmobile Association to the East, Schoolcraft’s Motorized Trails and Bay de Noc to the South, Trenary Northern Trails and Hiawathaland Snowmobile Club to the West.

The adventure began just before 9:00am on a crisp wintery morning as we rode from my residence on Ridge Road and headed southeast on trail 7, then east and north on trail 8, took a short detour up 422 to check out Miners Castle, then back to trail 8 east and stopped briefly in Shingleton to top off the fuel tanks before heading north and east on trails 8 & 43 (aka the Sunrise grade) toward the Kingston Plains, a favorite rallying spot among local riders. On this day however, there were only two rigs in the parking area and lots of fresh snowmobile tracks, but no one in sight. Setting out north on trail 8 at a leisurely pace of 45-50 miles per hour, we saw our first fellow riders taking a break at the Kingston Lake Campground but just gave a wave and didn’t stop.

Riding the Crazy 8’s

Remember When: February 1990

Every month for the past 22 years we have put together a story about the corresponding issues of 30 years ago. Sorry to say but we do not have the February 1990 issue in our archives. We must have over 1,000 magazines in our office, but no February 1990. We also have every season bound in a hard cover book but we have no 1989-90 season. I guess after 53 years its not so bad if your only missing one issue.  So here is a little history about this article.

We started doing these stories in September, 1997, and (Northwinds Charlie) Slater was the first to write this article. The story he wrote was on our very first issue from October 1967.

The first story ever published in the Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine was called The Long Long Trail written by Jean Payne. Jean told of a trail that had been developed for horses and hikers and was now open to snowmobilers. Also in that issue  it was announced that Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine had become the official publication of the Michigan Snowmobile Association (MSA).

As the newly elected Officers assume their appointed duties, the first meeting of the Michigan Snowmobile and ORV Association (MISORVA) took place at the Kewadin Resort and Casino in St. Ignace located at 3015 Mackinac Trail. Approximately 55 snowmobile and off-road enthusiasts turned out to discuss concerns facing both of these motorized recreational endeavors as we move forward into 2020. Unfortunately, there were no Department of Natural Resources personnel in attendance, even though the Parks and Recreation Division of the Department administers and manages both programs.

Among the several items listed on the agenda, always a very important issue is new member recruitment and retention of current members. What can be offered that would encourage non-member snowmobilers and off-road vehicle enthusiasts to join forces and take part in preserving motorized recreational access on public lands while developing additional trails and areas to ride? This seems to be an on-going dilemma with no good answer. There are many benefits to be had that may not be considered by most because on the surface they aren’t really for personal gain, and unfortunately the “what’s in it for me” attitude overrides the privileges gained for everyone in the long run.

A proposal that perhaps a Public Relations Committee met with positive response from a majority of the attendees and discussion of what would be the goals and overall duties of the committee members produced several very good ideas. Of primary concern is to get a positive image out to the public about the mission of MISORVA, and dispel the misinformation circulating about any underlying reasons for the merger of the two primary trail user groups, and the only two that have a self-funding formula that pays for the upkeep and maintenance of not only the trails, but for both program’s grooming equipment as well. A committee chairperson was appointed and is now actively seeking committee members to move the established goals forward.

MISORVA Meets in St. Ignace

Vintage Sled of the Month: 1966 Sno Jet

Hey guys, I’ve had a theme going the last couple of months. That is, I just passed a personal milestone. It’s been 25 years now that I have been writing for this fine publication. And I have been taking you readers down some memory trails with me. So on this last Vintage Sled of the Month for this year, I am going to keep that same idea going.

This is not a story about my first sled - that was a 1967 Sno Jet. I would have liked to have done a story on that one, but here at the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway, they didn’t have one. But they do have a 1966 Sno-Jet, so I am going with that one - my Vintage Sled of the Month is the 1966 Sno-Jet.

But, first, my sled. I was 9. It was Christmas, and in my Christmas stocking, there was this little present. When I opened it, there was a key in it. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was a key to a snowmobile, because it had the local snowmobile dealership’s logo on the chain. I was literally coming off the ground, I was so happy. Then, for the rest of that winter, and for many winters to follow, around and around in the field behind my house I went. That little key began a life long love of snowmobiling and motor sports.

The sled in the Museum has a couple of really cool stories. First, it belongs to Museum founder and curator Charlie Vallier. He told me that he bought it at a local auction many years ago. Stayed there all day, waiting for it to come up. Then, finally got it for the whopping price of $5. Since then, he had to totally restore it to just about original showroom quality. And I’m pretty sure if he ever wanted to sell it, he would get a whole lot more than $5 for it.