The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are always special times for most of us. It’s a time when we can all hopefully take a moment and reflect on our blessings and share our time and treasures with loved ones. It’s a time for many of us to reflect and renew our spiritual priorities and find the good in all mankind.
Maybe this holiday season will be an opportunity to take that brand new snowmobile that Santa was storing for you on a long trip with family and friends. Whatever your holiday plans are, I’m sure that you’ll make some great memories this winter.
I remember living in Florida for many years after college, and the sight of palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights was a bit odd I thought. I always looked forward to traveling out West and going snow skiing on real snow. I remember the first time I saw an actual snowmobile was at a Colorado ski resort. As the ski patrol was zooming up and down the mountain with ease on a snowmobile, I said to myself while sitting in the lift chair; “Man that looks like a blast. I think that I’d really like to try that someday!”
Waiting for Snow
Fast forward nearly 40 years — “Gulp,” and now I have a couple sleds sitting in my trailer waiting for snow and a pair of snow skis that are now dust covered and outdated. My wife even has her own sled, and even though I think she misses those light covered palm trees more than I do, she is still willing to go for a ride with me.
I have been fortunate to have ridden in the Utah and Idaho backcountry a couple times and realize how important it is to preserve these areas both in Michigan and elsewhere. The American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA) is leading the fight by uniting state associations like MSA and others to protect these areas from restrictions that would prevent snowmobile access. Please support ACSA by logging on to their website, www.snowmobilers.org and joining today.
Recently, a well-seasoned MSA crew worked the booth at the Snowmobile USA Show in Novi. This show generates thousands of shoppers looking for those special deals and for MSA, gives us the opportunity to sell a lot of trail permits and meet and greet members and future members. In the three-day event MSA sold 1,753 trail permits and welcomed 198 new and renewal memberships!
Last year we had so many people grumbling under their breath about the high cost of a single trail permit — $48, so this year I decided to address those folks with a short, but hopefully humorous NOTICE.
I admit that I didn’t really know how people would react, and the others in the booth were less optimistic than I was. I have to tell you, most people this year just chuckled and thanked MSA for being there providing a service and for continuing to “Preserve Michigan’s Snowmobiling Heritage for Future Generations.” The attitude this year was different, as most snowmobilers are realizing that they have some of the best trails in the country, and it takes a tremendous effort to continually provide that consistency.
We had some great conversations, and I think all kidding aside, most riders realize that we are doing the best that we can with the limited amount of resources that we have to work with. I heard from so many people that they wanted us to thank those who volunteer so generously. Some of the topics that our volunteers addressed included:
- Public Act 288 — what is it and how will it affect groomed trails
- Cheboygan Bridge closure by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on trail 9 — replacement and re-route challenges
- Trespassing and loud pipe issues and consequences
- Timbers Sleds and defining what a snowmobile is
- Free riding and boon docking land development
- Future cost of trail permits
- ORV/Snowmobile seasons
These are just a sampling of topics that I have personally and have heard about from others. It is always good and healthy to listen to others. I always leave this event totally exhausted, but feeling rewarded by meeting so many people who are passionate about snowmobiling, each in their own way.
A Safe and Fun-Filled New Year
As we all say farewell to 2017 and welcome 2018, in the New Year I hope that we can all say thank you to those who have served others this past year. Also, that we may be open to look for ongoing opportunities to meeting the needs of others, whether it’s in our own snowmobiling community or others. Snowmobilers are a generous group of individuals and often enjoy giving back to the community. If you or others have invested your time or money in a charitable organization recently, please let the MSA office know so that we can record your contribution. Acknowledging these efforts helps our organization’s acceptance and makes our communities a better place for all.
I wish all of you a safe and fun-filled snowmobile season. Please remember MSA’s Zero Tolerance alcohol stance this winter, and wait until the end of the day to enjoy that “special” eggnog that you’ve been waiting for.
Enjoy and be safe!