My Favorite Place
Give the metal a quick tap with my heavy boot then grab the handle and pull up to separate the ski from the cold, hard ice. Again to the other ski, then a big lift to break the ice that seems glued to the track. Pop open the hood. Immediately, my eyes scan the belt, wrapping around the side of the engine. A duck to look underneath it, checking for any tears, seams or cracks, and then a laugh to that day that my little "big" brother and I picked endless squares of that old belt out of the belly piece by piece, goofing off, chucking bits at each other, waiting for the verdict on another belt. A quick look over the carburetor, looking for mouse holes or any signs of old age, thinking back to all those years that my dad spent relentless hours trying to fix that one piece. Use the meter and give the battery a quick test, making sure there is still a charge. At least there is a battery, unlike my best friend's machine, no battery means no electric start which means messing around with the choke and gas and pull cable all at the same time to get it going, and hopefully keep it going. Double check the oil, peek at the gas, hop on the back, pull down the choke, give it a quick pump, turn on the ignition and "Vrooooooom!" The engine starts, smoke bellows out the exhaust, I breathe in, two stroke engine, you have to appreciate that smell. I giggle, remembering when an old friend walked into the garage, taking a big sniff and saying, "Where'd your two stroke journey off to?" I stare ahead, waiting for the leader to give the thumbs up. Leader signs a go ahead, second repeats, going through two others before it hits me to keep the chain going a few back so that everyone knows that we are heading off, finally. Hood down, belts clipped, helmet locked a couple quick throttle pumps and then hit it, the track tears out under me and spins off. And then we're off, riding into the vast, snowy, wilderness. Another snow machine ride, another journey out to my favorite place.