Next Issue: September 2017

Print Date: September 6, 2017

Please allow one to two weeks for delivery.

Good Friends Good Times

When one lives in an area known for its enormous snowfalls and premier trail systems, it only stands to reason that friends and relatives alike will want to come to visit and enjoy what our little neck of the woods has to offer. That being said, on rare occasions someone such as myself gets to play host to individuals of stature, and those who have accepted the challenge of responsibility of doing everything legally possible to maintain the recreational freedoms of motorized trail users, and to prevent those intent on restricting, or even eliminating, those freedoms from happening.

So it was on February 2nd of 2017 when the Vice Chairman of the Midwest Chapter of the American Council of Snowmobile Associations & the International Snowmobile Council and his charming wife paid a visit to the Upper Peninsula for a snowmobiling adventure, and I was privileged to ride with them and show off some of the many attractions around Munising and the surrounding area.

Although this was primarily a personal holiday to celebrate the wife’s birthday and fulfill her wish of a gift, it also was an opportunity to check out the differences in how Michigan’s snowmobile program worked as opposed to the Iowa snowmobile program. That being said, we made quite a few stops during our travels for photos and to discuss particular issues between the two programs such as signing, directional and informational, grooming techniques, funding methods etc.

This past February, Newberry received some of the best news snowmobilers can hear. That is, there was a new snowmobile dealer in town. At that time, Chuck and Carole Renze opened up a new business in what had been a vacant appliance store.

For them, this is just the latest in a string of business ventures in the U.P. Back in 2005 they bought a car dealership in Manistique. Two years later, they bought out the Power Sports business in Munising. Then, two years ago, in 2015, they bought out the Ford dealership in Newberry. Finally, this past winter, they put their name atop a vacant building directly across the street from their Ford dealership.

On this, their daughter, Charline Zollinger, who is the General Manager at their Newberry location, stated, “We saw a need in the Newberry area. We noticed that many of our customers in our Munising store were staying in the Newberry area. And, we knew that with the strong tourism industry in Newberry, this would be a good location. So, we made the move to bring the Polaris name to Newberry.”

New Snowmobile Dealership in Newberry

Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine's Big Loss

The Michigan Snowmobiler has been in business for the last 51 years. This past March we lost the Matriarch of this family run business, Nancy Shipe.

Nancy was working for a publishing company in 1967, The News Herald, here is East Jordan with Marshall Sayles. Marshall, his wife Wilma, and Nancy entered into an agreement to work on a snowmobiling oriented magazine, and the Michigan Snowmobiler came into being. After just one issue, Lyle (Nancy’s Husband) signed on as an employee, and traveled all over the state selling classified ads, city by city.

Even though predictions that the magazine would never amount to much, and would eventually fail, Nancy & Lyle seized the opportunity to take over the business, when Marshall and Wilma retired, and set about increasing circulation. Nancy held the title of President while Lyle became Publisher & Editor. The success of the Michigan Snowmobiler magazine today speaks for itself, the two of them were the driving force of the magazine.

Since we publish only six times a year, there are often issues that arise during the time of year when we aren't printing. But, these issues do need to be seen in print. This is one of those. The US Forest Service is doing a review at the moment of their trail system,and in that, they are talking about closing some trails. This is something that we, as snowmobilers, really, really need to keep an eye on.

Therefore, I will be talking about a meeting that happened on the evening of February 28th, that the US Forest Service held in Rudyard. There, members of the US Forest Service met with members of the public and various user groups to discuss the future of the Hiawatha National Forest. One major announcement was that there is serious consideration of closing some of the roads in the Hiawatha National Forest.

As a matter of fact, US Forest Service representative Robert West stated, “We have an overbuilt road system on the east side (of the UP.), and we are going to close some of these roads.” It was also stated that the USFS only has enough money to maintain about 40% of their current road system.

This was part of the backdrop for the meeting. However, the main focus of this meeting was the forming of a Comprehensive Trails Analysis and Working Group. The group would consist of persons representing 9 different user groups. These groups include: Over Snow Vehicle, ORV/ATV, Motorcycle, Hiking, Cross-Country Skiing/Snowshoeing, Equestrian, Water Trails, and Mushers. These groups would then meet and discuss their individual trail needs. This, in turn, will indicate to the Forest Service which roads are needed and which could be closed.

US Forest Service Looking at Trails, Talking Closures

A few months ago, on Wednesday, May 3rd, there was of combined meeting of the Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup and the Off Road Vehicle Workgroup, which was held in St. Ignace. That day, over 75 interested persons gathered to discuss various items of interest to the two groups. Of note, this meeting is only the second ever combined meeting of these two groups. The first was held last December.

For snowmobilers, there are a couple of issues. First, with the changing dynamics in the trail sports environment in this State, we really should be working with the ORV people. But, on the other hand, we have a lot of money that comes from snowmobilers that needs to stay with the snowmobile program. So, I think we need to go into this evolution of the trails program with one hand open in friendship, but the other on our wallet.

That being said, the combined meetings of the two groups are happening due to an effort by both groups to seek ways to improve the State's trail system. For the Snowmobilers, they have been working on the Trails for decades and have an excellent trail system. For the ORV people, they are still in the beginnings of such a system. However, within the last few years, much progress has been made.

For many years, the two groups had been at odds regarding the trails. One reason is that up until a short time ago, the Snowmobilers provided the lion's share of the funding for the trails. At the same time, the ORV people had little money in their budget. With their bank accounts talking, this created something of an “us and them” mentality.

Combined SAW/ORVAW Meeting Held in St. Ignace

For this month, I am taking a trip down memory lane. Or, perhaps memory trails. Each month, I head over to the Top of The Lake Snowmobile Museum and look over the sleds and try to decide which one to pick for my Vintage Sled of the Month. This time, I walked around and walked around. There are just so many to choose from.

I looked about, and right in front of me was a Bosak Power toboggan. That brought back some memories.

But, first, before we go back in time, we're going to fast forward a bit. There are some very interesting things happening at the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway. On the second weekend in September they will be hosting their annual Swap Meet. And, if you can, be sure to come up for it. Also, at the event, they will do the official dedication of their new library which will be dedicated to one Ernol “Bud” Knapp.

As you might know, I knew Bud very well. When I was first starting to work here at Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine, Bud helped me out a lot. And over the years, I grew to admire and respect him tremendously. His wealth of knowledge about snowmobiling was awesome. Along with the information he kept stored in his own mind, he also amassed a huge wealth of documents, many of which will now find a permanent home in the library at the Museum.

Vintage Sled of The Month...The Bosak Power Toboggan

Why is it that interests, habits, and even long range goals that we had in most of our younger years fade, or at the very least become less important, as we grow older? As I pondered this question a while back, I thought maybe if I asked a few of my friends and acquaintances what they thought, I may just find an acceptable answer. What I found instead, however, was a number of opinions, some of which I wasn't ready for. Statements by several of them seemed to be very similar, like as youngsters, everyone either wanted to be a cowboy, or a firefighter, a policeman, or maybe an astronaut. Lofty goals to say the least, but very few would follow through with those early ambitions, and even fewer would even remember what those goals were, as we all went through the progression from toddlers to teens.

One of my acquaintances told me that he had always wanted to be an Ace and fly the skies in search of the Red Baron, but that was simply a pipe dream because he knew he was born way too late, after the fact. But in the early days of the Viet Nam conflict, he joined the U.S. Air Force and learned to fly, and became a fairly successful aviator. In later years he did go on to get his pilot's license, but never followed through in his hopes of becoming a commercial pilot. Asked why not, he just shrugged his shoulders and said his priorities changed and he eventually lost interest.

Another fellow said he had always wanted to be a circus clown and had, in fact, worked in one after he got out of school, but discovered that circus life wasn't all he had thought it might be, the hectic schedule and additional chores involved was more than he could handle, so he settled for the more comfortable lifestyle of being a real estate associate. Not that his interest in his earlier ambitions had faded any, just that after trying it for awhile, he determined that it wasn't for him. He did say that even to this day he has never missed an opportunity to go when the circus comes to town.

As Passion Fades

Spotlight On...East Jordan

My home town. I have lived here in East Jordan for 51 years. I graduated from East Jordan High School and married my high school sweetheart.

But enough about me. East Jordan is a small town, that is a snowmobile friendly community, and the people that advertise with us have been with us for years, and take over our center section.

T&R Yamaha is also in their 51st year, which is also the same year that our magazine was started. T&R is a full service Yamaha dealer who sells everything from generators to snowmobiles, and every thing in between. Randy Danforth and his partner Tim Bingham (that is where the T and the R come from) and their two mechanics keep the place up and running. They are real easy to work with when it comes to selling you what you need, and of course service after the sale.

Steve's Towing. Steve and his wife Ruth are friends of mine and my wife. Steve started way back in the 70's towing for his dad. He has a flat bed and a hook to do the towing. I think towing is in his blood.

B&B Auto Service. Bill Pardee, the owner/operator has been in the business since 1975. Bill and I went to school together and he loves snowmobiling also. He can work on just about anything that has a motor in it. And the trail goes right behind his shop.

The Insurance Shop is where I am insured with every thing I own. They insure just about anything from auto, home, boats, seasonal and commercial, and of course, snowmobiles. Nicky and the three girls that work for her do a great job. They can answerer all of the dumb questions I come up with.

September 1987. It seems not that long ago. Just like when talking with buddies, and telling a story, you make a statement like, “remember 20 years ago, oh wait, that was 40 years ago”. September 1987. Yah, it was 30 years ago. How time flies.

And like anything, we had some lean years here at the Magazine. During the good times our magazine had up to 108 pages. The year of 1987 we had 24 or 28 pages . So you will see a drop in the “Remember When”, because there was not alot going on.

The Legislative snowmobile ride was held in Cadillac in February of 1987. Snowmobilers hosted 48 legislators and their families to some exciting winter fun of snowmobiling. We wanted them to see and try first hand the thrill of riding the groomed trails of Northern Michigan. They were trying to show them why we need gas tax money for up keep and grooming of our state trails. We know the better trails bring more winter tourists to Michigan and wanted them to know it also.

The Ogemaw Hills Snowmobile Club was named club of the year. The club is located in West Branch and was named club of the year in the Ski-Doo New Generation competition sponsored by Bombardier Inc. A total of 26 state and provincial snowmobile clubs were honored.

The new sleds for 1988 were released. Arctic Cat was boasting its Wildcat with all new 650cc liquid cooled twin cylinder Suzuki engine. The fastest Arctic Cat ever...very likely the fastest snowmobile ever. Polaris called its Indy 650cc liquid cooled triple cylinder engine, the “All World Performance King”. Its the only production snowmobile with both a liquid-cooled triple cylinder engine and a liquid-cooled, hydraulic disc braking system. The Indy 650 isn’t for the faint of heart.

Remember When - September 1987