The Houghton Lk Ride From the Back of the Pack

I want to personally thank Chad for preparing, executing, and sharing with all of us who were able to attend the HOUGHTON Lake Club Ride 2015. Chad spent hours and hours making plans and scheduling activities for members to enjoy. But at the last minute he had to reschedule everything as well as face the Polar Vortex and -28 degrees temps on Friday morning.
I can only speak for myself when I say “…my friend, you’re a hard act to follow!”
I thoroughly enjoyed the trails, and some off trails you guided us along. My wife and I also thoroughly enjoyed the “mixer” gathering on Saturday evening. It was very relaxing. I’m sure most of us will be talking about this club ride for months to come.
As a ride coordinator myself, I also greatly appreciate all the effort he went to, in creating all the on-trail activities, which I am sure we will all remember for years to come. These including posting officially approved SNOMADS signs covering about 10 miles of trail from the motel to his back door; followed Friday morning, and less than 3 miles from his home, the 85 mph jettisoning of his 128″ studded and recently re-clipped drive track followed immediately a quarter mile slide to your not so immediate halt!
It’s a nice touch, when you’re a ride coordinator, calls ahead and make arrangements for lunch stops. And Chad had that covered both Friday and Saturday. I’ve got to believe the management and staff at the Saint Helen Fireman’s Bar and Restaurant really appreciated your call and the opportunity to make a handsome profit when we arrived for lunch on Friday. I know they were probably expecting more than the six of us to roar into their parking lot and track snow into their establishment. It was nice to be able to sit just about anywhere you wanted.
I think I overheard our waitress asking ” where are the other 16 people we planed on?” I couldn’t quite hear Chad reply. But, I did hear words like “candy something” and “too cold”.
No matter what words were exchanged, I thought our waitress handled her disappointment quite well by only doubling our meal prices and stuffing the six of us at the corner table.
I can’t quite remember all the trail numbers that we crossed as we took county roads and some uncharted trails back to Chads home prior to the 5 pm pizza delivery for the planned Friday night party. But, I think we all realized, when the pizza guy arrived and tripped up the steps, while carrying enough food for an army, that he ordered enough pizzas and salad for the same 20 people who were expected at lunch. Oops! With the help of John and Keri, who arrived shortly after the pizza guy headed back out of the woods, we dug in and polished off quite a number of pizzas and all of the salad. Still, there were a lot of pizzas still in delivery boxes. I know that all of the guests figured out what was to be on the menu the following night. Pizza!
Saturday started out pretty good as the SNOMADS came to the rescue of a SUV driver who had lost control on Townline Road and ended up in the snow bank. Actually, this guy was in our way so we had no choice. We pushed the SUV back into the middle of the street and pointed down the hill. I do believe that I observed Chad slip the driver a $20.
Finally we were really off on a trail. There were a few additional sleds today. I think I counted 13 or 14 from my position in the back of the pack. We took the round-about way to go south and west then after a break on the trail where Ron tightened up a few steering parts on his wife’s sled, we finally headed north along the west side of HOUGHTON Lake. The trails were in excellent shape and Chad helped us stay in a group by stepping off his snowmobile any time we came up to a stop sign along the trail. Once “thumbs-up” had been indicated by all drivers he jumped back onto his XLT Touring 2-up and away we went. We diverted off the trail into Reedsburg Dam area for some pictures and a snack. A couple of our members popped open the hoods of their sleds and offered up some hot BBQ chicken strips and some nut bread from a second smudge pot, or hot pot, I don’t know what there are called. It wasn’t important because it all tasted good. We continued north on trail 6 by this time and as we crossed the Muskegon River I thought Ron Schroeder was going to prepare a demonstration on how to do a “water crossing”. I was too far back in the pack to know why he “chickened out”. Maybe next time…right Ron?
There were a few additional stops along the trail before we arrived at the Dead Bear Bar and Restaurant in Grayling. The first was to address a steering problem that Keri’s 550cc Ski-Doo. Our own Mr Fix It, Bill Plewa, took care of a broken or missing limiter strap she had. And we were off again heading north of Charlie’s 4 Mile Road gas station and on to the south side of Grayling and the new Dead Bear Bar and Restaurant. Chad had called ahead and we were directed to a side area of the establishment where there was a large table to place all of our helmets and gear on. And just a few steps away they had set up a nice long table for all of us.
There were several delicious entrees and Dennis Winowiecki picked one of them. It took a little longer than expected at Dead Bear than planned, so after a quick fill up at the Admiral Gas station we were headed back to Chads place. And to save some time it was decided that we would take a shortcut across HOUGHTON Lake in order to shave off about 10-15 miles. So we turned onto County Road 300 and headed east until we hit the lake. After a few landmark sightings, Heidi had us aimed in the proper direction. But, the fun wasn’t over yet and again, I credit Chad with this final bit of entertainment. As we approached the shoreline Chad had arranged to have another SUV position himself on the lake in a “stuck on the lake position”. Yup! And the reason I have to believe that good ole Chad had something to do with this is because he seemed to be the first one to jump into action. Chad hooked up a tow strap to his sled and tried to tow this 3500 lb Mercedes out using his 600 lb Polaris 600 XLT. Since that didn’t work it was decided to add more muscle to the mix. So, we had 7 or 8 SNOMADS try to push the disabled SUV. NOPE! That didn’t work either. But another guy driving a GMC Yukon and carrying a “recovery strap” came out onto the ice and offered to help.
Well, with all of that help and some good ole fashion “luck” we, that is the SNOMADS, to the rescue again, had just about completed their day on the trails.
It didn’t take long to get back to Chads place (AKA) Casa de Tremble. A few of us cleaned up before the Saturday night mixer was to begin. But once everything was out on the table we enjoyed some specialty dishes, cookies and other pastries, I noticed several people had a container of their favorite beverages and all of this was followed by some creat conversation and a game of Euchre. Yes, there was plenty of pizza too!
What a weekend we had. My thanks and appreciation goes out to Chad and to all the members who braved the exceptionally cold weather. I think it’s safe to say that “…FUN WAS HAD BY EVERYONE!”
-Chuck Comstock