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Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine
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Print Date: January 3, 2018
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50 years is a long time for anything and it is more impressive when it is all volunteers that have paid dues to be involved that makes it even more impressive.
On December 1st the East Jordan Snowmobile Club was celebrating 50 years as a club, with an open house. In the whole state of Michigan, there are only 4 clubs that have reached this milestone. The Cedarville Snow Travelers, Ogemaw Hills Snowmobile Club, Twisting Trail Sno Braves in Twin Lake. and the club in East Jordan. All four clubs have gone far above and beyond to help the entire snowmobiling public in Michigan.
Most people in East Jordan, and around the state, have no idea how important the East Jordan club is to snowmobiling in the state of Michigan. Original members of the club where a big part in helping the original M.S.A. get started. The M.S.A. offices where built on the club property and stayed in East Jordan for many years.
The club was formed in October of 1967, and the first meetings were held in the basement of the East Jordan fire hall. Then in 1968 the land that they are still at today was purchased and later that year the club house was built.
In 1972 the club bought 10 acres in Grand Marais and built a club house there for members that wanted a place to stay and play.
East Jordan Snow Mobile Club Celebrates 50th
Every year early in December for the past several decades, The Michigan Snowmobile Association has looked at the weather reports and schedule their Board of Directors meeting somewhere in the Upper Peninsula with the hope of getting their first snowmobile ride in during that meeting’s weekend. With few exceptions and for as many years as I can personally remember, the most favorable location has been in the central UP either in, or very near, the City of Munising. This year was no different, and for the third or fourth year in a row, it has been at Foggy’s Steakhouse & Lounge in Christmas, Michigan with lodging accommodations directly across the road at the White Pine Lodge.
Almost as long ago, the Snowmobile Program Administrators with the Department of Natural Resources elected to join forces and hold the Snowmobile Advisory Committee meetings in conjunction with the MSA meetings. You may recall this Committee was abolished under Governor Granholm’s administration along with several other committees and councils in an unsuccessful effort to reorganize and streamline the DNR’s many duties. I say unsuccessful because a short time later it was discovered that input for the various committees and councils was necessary to the numerous goals, both immediate and long range, already on their drawing board.
So, with the assistance of the Natural Resources Commission, a recreational multi-user group was established and its members appointed by the governor, the title given to this group was the Michigan Snowmobile Trails Advisory Council, and consisted of both motorized and non-motorized user groups.
SAW & MSA Board Meetings
This is one cool story. While at the Vulcan Relic Riders Vintage Snowmobile Show, I was introduced to a very special lady. Now, over the years I have spent here at Michigan Snowmobiler, I have met some pretty cool ladies. I have been friends with World Champion lady racers, models, TV personalities. But, all of those just took a backseat to a certain young lady from Ishpeming. Sunshine Oelfke.
Sunshine is six. Just turned. And, she is in kindergarten. And, this fall, she did something incredibly cool. But, first the back story.
Sunshine lives with her grandmother, Jackie Sue Oelfke and her grandfather. (He is a combat Vet who prefers not to be in the
spotlight.) They like to ride snowmobile. Jackie said, “We love to snowmobile. It is a huge part of what we do in the winter. And, we started bringing Sunshine along when she was only a year old.”
And, Sunshine took to snowmobiling like a true Yooper. And, of course, before long and she wanted a sled of her own. But, grandma was also trying to instill some values in her. She told Sunshine to start saving her money if she wanted a sled. And, Sunshine did just that.
Starting when she was three, Sunshine took all of her allowance and all of the money she earned doing other things and put it in her piggy bank. With the idea that she was saving up for a snowmobile.
According to Jackie, “Sunshine was very protective of this money. She wouldn’t spend it for anything. Not candy or toys or anything. That was the money for her snowmobile and that was what she wanted more than anything.
Sunshine Makes Us All Happy
Can't begin to tell the number of snowmobilers who have voiced their concerns about the loss of trails across the state, and many of those trail miles have been in existence since the snowmobile program was adopted and made legal several decades ago. So why, all of a sudden, are the property owners pulling their permission to cross their lands from legitimate snowmobile clubs and trail sponsors? The answers are about as varied as the number of irate landowners involved, but the primary cause stems from the "new breed" of snowmobile riders who apparently have no regard for the simple requests set forth in the provision for use of the property. More and more riders in today's society are purchasing machines that are designed for use in terrain where few, if any, trails exist, and are considered "powder sleds" and is not the most comfortable ride when used on a packed, groomed trail! Consequently, they take to the open fields and meadows where the snow is deeper and provides a completely different experience than what is recommended by the state snowmobile association and the snowmobile program managers... and in almost every case, it's illegal!
Not to rain on everyone's parade, and I don't mean to imply that every snowmobiler who enjoys off-trail or back country riding does so illegally. What I do wish to do is set the record straight and say that in every instance I know of, private property owners, other than the large tracts owned by various corporations, who have consented to snowmobile trails on lands under their control have specified certain corridors or easements for that use, and intentionally deviating from that permission can, and usually does, nullify such consent. In the long run that hurts everyone that utilizes the trails, not just the offenders! Posting signs declaring "Stay on Trail" doesn't seem to work for the simple reason that those seeking an off-trail or backcountry experience will just ignore such instructions with the notion that those signs do not apply to them! That is so wrong... not to mention illegal!
Ride With Pride But Stay Legal
Chemist or mad scientist? Tim Kowalski, President and CEO of Bio-Kleen, and I talked. He is a very energetic person that really knows what he is talking about. After speaking with him, you come away from the conversation with a lot of knowledge about his products and his passion about them.
Tim and his new bride Tracy are very passionate about a lot of things, but especially the Bio-Kleen family and their products. They and their crew produce over a million gallons of cleaning products a year. They also deliver to countries all over the world.
Bio-Kleen is the first environmentally friendly company to develop cleaning products for the world of janitorial cleaning products, plus a long line of Marine, RV, and power sports cleaners.
With over 30 years of experience, Tim is a graduate of the University of Michigan (Go Blue). This chemist has made a promise to mother earth that his cleaners will protect the environment. On the Bio-Kleen web page, under "Our Mission", they state, “We’re not tree huggers or into reincarnation, what we are into is ensuring that tomorrow our children can enjoy clean water and the future of our planet. We believe that companies have more then just an obligation to their customers or country they have a responsibility to the environment as well, which is why our products are environmentally safe, biodegradable and non-aerosol.”
Spotlight On .... Bio Kleen
Good news lovers of old sleds, there’s a new show in town. This year, a new club called the Vulcan Relic Riders hosted their 1st Annual Antique Snowmobile Show. And I was lucky enough to get an invite and attend.
The show happened on December 9th, which was the second Saturday in December. Also, it was held in Faithorn at the Long Branch Saloon. For those of you who have never heard of it, don’t feel bad. This place is just a bit out of the way, even by Yooper standards.
A general location is that heading west past Escanaba, you hit the metropolis that is Hermansville, right smack dab almost on US-2, and hand a hard left. Then, you follow the trail until you start smelling the cheese. Place is just about to the land of the cheese. As a matter of fact, while on the road, I actually saw a mailbox shaped like a Packer helmet. All those cheesy odors must be getting to them.
Anyway, I was there for the show. And, before I get there, I have to thank my old friend David Shope. You might remember that name because Dave is one of the driving forces behind the Rapid River Antique Snowmobile show. He happened to be in Naubinway doing some volunteer work at the Top of The Lake Snowmobile Museum.
1st Annual Vulcan Relic Riders Antique Snowmobile Show
Here we go again. Snowmobiling in the 80’s was tough here in Michigan, we didn’t get a lot of snow, but us who really love our sport found snow and rode as much as we could.
With that being said, January 1988. The Minneapolis/St.Paul Snowmobile and Winter Sports Show served as a fitting backdrop for the formal launching of the the National Snowmobile Foundation, a new nonprofit organization created by the International Snowmobile Industry Association (ISIA) and three of it’s manufacturers Yamaha, Ski-Doo, and Arctic Cat. The goal of the foundation was to create a team of all interested parties who will work together to support snowmobiling through a program of education, increased charitable activities, and research.
Michigan Special Olympics, Wertz’s Warriors, endurance ride last’s seven days. But organizing and planning this annual fund raising ride is a year round job. Moving 70 people 900 miles in seven days is a huge undertaking and that may be the understatement of the year.
Wertz’s Warriors are 50 snowmobiles and support crews of 20. Each February, they spend a week on their sleds crossing the state, raising funds to support Michigan Special Olympics winter sports program.
East Jordan’s 7th annual Sno-Blast is getting ready for kick off on Friday February 5th with a snowmobile safari, and running all weekend ending with the Snow Lovers breakfast on Sunday.
This winter, in addition to a full line of snowmobiles, Yamaha offered a new idea in snow recreation, the Snow-Scoot. It is so revolutionary they called it a snow vehicle not a snowmobile, said Ron Solbery, Yamaha product manager. The Snow-Scoot where supper light and where a breeze for anyone to ride. It’s ideal for running around the back yard or the neighborhood for a quick ride.
Remember When January 1988
Well, you guys all know me. And, with a name like the Coyote, you know for a fact there will be a joke or two in here about the name. Like, if a certain four-legged critter was riding one of these back in the Golden Era of Saturday morning cartoons, there would have been a bird covered in BBQ sauce on a platter.
Anyway, my pick for the Vintage Sled of the Month is the Coyote, which is actually a really cool old sled. This is what the “totally hip” crowd would be driving back in the day. This was not your average sled. It was and is definitely an eye catcher.
First, it had the engine in the back. An idea that most manufacturers dropped like a safe off a cliff. (Ala Wile E. Coyote.) Then, it was almost totally covered in a type of metallic fiberglass that looked totally awesome. Then, you kinda sat inside the thing. Not quite like a Raider or a Manta, but almost.
On this, it looks like it was a one person sled. But, back in the day, if the second person was really cute, cuddling down the trail would not have been all that bad.
And the seat. This was a custom bucket looking thing. Like, when you sat on the thing, you pretty much had to feel that you were part of the machine.
Then, for power, it had twin cylinder engines. Now, here is a bit of a thing. At the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum, the bit of literature they tag on the sleds noted that it had either a Sachs or a Kohler. But when I popped the hood, what do I see, but a JLO. (Guys, open the hood on these things before you write the little notes.)
Vintage Sled of The Month-The Coyote
On the evening of Wednesday, December 13th, the Eastern U.P. Snowmobile Council met in their regular monthly meeting, which was held this month in Hulbert. This night saw many items of interest on the Agenda.
Foremost was an update on Trail conditions. For all, the word was wet. Just about every club represented at the meeting related that they were having water problems on the trails. Everything from a few deep holes to flooded stretches hundreds of yards long. All were noting the even though the Trails do have snow, they were not really ready to ride.
As a matter of fact, on this, Buzz Medalis, from the Tahquamenon Area Snowmobile Association, perhaps summed it up the best when he said, “Anybody taking a new sled out there now is just plain crazy!” Along those same lines, Don Reed, with the Seney Snowmobile Association, stated, “We sent out groomers and they came back looking like swamp rats.” Noting the amount of mud they had went through.
However, this was as of December 13th and with colder weather, conditions are improving day by day. However, if you are planning a trip, be sure to check conditions. Most of the local clubs have websites or social media pages. As well, most local chambers have pages and contact information. Then, there is the Michigan Snowmobile Association. They too are a wealth of information about Trail conditions.
EUPSC Meets in December