Circa 1978, Rob and I got introduced to snowmobiling with a dear friend and terror of the snowmobile trails, Miles.   Mike, being from Ohio, was not able to join us every winter weekend but his influence on those occasional weekends when we were north together got Rob and I hooked on this winter recreation.   It had all the ingredients to make any guy happy:  gasoline, oil, smoke, speed, internal combustion engines (of the 2-stroke variety as God intended) and a general lack of rules and proper supervision.   Rob and I, with our mentor Mike, started out with short afternoon trips that got longer every passing weekend and year and quickly had us pushing the boundaries of snowmobile technology and the Ontario Trail system.   By the early 80s. we were riding to the edge of our local trail systems and beyond without the benefits of maps, trail signage or groomed trails.    Those first overnight trips where adventures in the true sense of the term as we road into the unknown stopping only to eat, gas-up or ask for directions or information to find the next town or lake.    There were LOTS of wrong turns, dead ends, breakdowns and late, late evening returns to our base camp cottages.   Even our wives got into the action on the shorter trips leaving the 3 amigos to tackle the longer trips and associated misadventures of 3 guys out to have fun.   The stories would require a book but there are a few that stand out.   One weekend, late in the season, the 3 of us were intent on reaching the famed Seguin Trail and left Rob’s cottage one morning heading north.   In these early days a trail was just a track where someone else had gone before you.    There was no guarantee, express or implied, that the track you were following was a good idea.   Or still a good idea as Spring approached.    But northwards we pushed running roughly parallel to Hwy# 69/169 (old name).   Muskoka back country is rough Canadian Shield with rocky crags with swamps inbetween and as the winter season passes the snow cover lessens and the swamps start to get a little soft.   We ran north in the morning on wet snow and some “damp” areas but when we started our return trip, the sun that day had continued to warm the country and those damp areas with getting quite “wet”.   The trails through the swamps that afternoon had turned into bobsled runs with 1 to 2 feet of water and slush in them.   Some sled models are OK in water and slush and others, not so much.   As we ran 200 and 500 feet across these swamps on the way home, we were learning the how to keep the sleds moving so that we could reach the far shoreline.    On one occasion, forever etched in my mind, Rob, our local trail expert and leader that day, lead us into a particularly wet and long swamp run at speed but starting losing momentum partway through.    As Rob lost speed, we had no choice but to back off our throttles and not run into him.    Going around was not an option due to trees and the possibility of something worse outside the trail itself.   As Rob stalled out, we all slowed and sank into the water and slush in the middle of this swamp.   It was an interesting moment as, even through my helmet, I could hear Mike behind us shouting “Don’t stop, whatever you do!!!”.   But stop we did.    That bad news on this deal is the requirement to step off the sleds, into the water, to: drag, lift, pull, push each sled to regain momentum.   The sleds cannot get out under their own power.   The next 45 minutes were spent getting each successive sled moving and out of the swamp to land.    Tired, wet and cold, we headed to the nearest restaurant for warm food and cold beverage(s) (funny how that works).    Rob seemed to be the wettest and was literally pouring the water out of his boots.    We arrived at the restaurant and stumped (sloshed in Rob’s case) our way inside, and found a table.   The owner took our orders and Rob, being the enterprising young man that he is, asked the owner if he wouldn’t mind taking his wet boots and soaked inner felt boot liners and put them beside his kitchen stoves while we were eating.   The owner was initialing a bit surprised by the request but nodded and took the boots and boot liners off to the kitchen with our food order.    We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch, warm break and beverages and eventually asked for the bill.    It all arrived through the swinging kitchen doors a few moments later on large serving tray.    As the owner “served” the boots and liners to our table, we could not help notice the sliced pickle adorning each boot.    As we laughed, Rob picked up the first boot – warm and perfectly dry!    “How did you do that!”, Rob exclaimed!     The owner smiled and said: “Pizza oven”.    He said it just loud enough for us to hear, but not the table next to us, who were diving into their freshly served “pepperoni and double cheese” pizza lunch.  
If they only knew!

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