Snowmobiling...

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 21, 2011 3:55 AM GMT
    I really hope you guys are super careful if you go snowmobiling, especially out at night.

    It's a very sad story for my family. Tomorrow, the 21st, marks the day exactly one year since the accident.

    My uncle, and cousin (his son) with his wife and kids, went to Diamond Lake last year to go snowmobiling as they did every year. But this one night, it was maybe about 11 PM, very dark outside. My uncle was snowmobiling, and somehow, he lost control of his snowmobile. He reared off the path and crashed into a tree. My cousin saw the whole thing and tried to run over and help him. With flashlight in hand, it was very hard to see in the dark, he gave him CPR, but couldn't revive him...later analysis by doctors confirmed that injuries that occurred to his spine and neck meant instantaneous brain death, and CPR would never have worked. He was wearing a helmet and sober. He was 62 years old. He lived a very long and fulfilling life I suppose, but such a sudden and tragic death has dealt to us all a great blow, and should never have been...He was loved by so many, and he was a man of tremendous character, a much greater person than I may ever hope to be. His father, my grandpa, outlived him...

    He was divorced after being married for 25 years (his wife cheated on him) and lived in a very large nice house in Coos Bay. He was so close to my cousin and his children, they lived only a block or two from each other. He loved to snowmobile, but also loved to ride motorcycles and go boating. He was an avid Oregon Duck fan, and liked to joke around, but he meant well.

    One year later, it still feels like he shouldn't be gone. We won't get to go down to Coos Bay and be able to visit and stay in his house anymore...His death in my family I feel really signals the turning point that, in principal, the collective family is dying and drifting apart. I was fairly close to my uncle, my cousin a little but not as much. And I only have one grandparent left alive, and that's it...My being gay makes me feel like I can never be that close to my grandpa. He's always asking about if I got a new girlfriend, I couldn't tell him that I'm gay, he'd be so ashamed of me...Having already become a widower and losing his son in that tragedy, it would crush him to think his grandson was a complete freak... icon_cry.gif
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    Jan 21, 2011 1:35 PM GMT
    It is indeed a dangerous activity, and sorry to hear of this tragedy. I had a snowmobile when I lived in North Dakota, where the snow is present all winter long. A big 600cc Polaris 3-cyclinder touring model, which means the saddle is long enough for 2 people, and it had heated hand grips for the passenger. But it also meant it was heavy, around 600 lbs.

    Up there you can actually use a snowmobile for daily errands, not just sport, and I had a rear rack on which I could mount a basket to buy my groceries and such. Although technically illegal to ride them on public roads, many of which stay snowed over, police are lenient. And land owners let snowmobilers use them, with routes published by clubs, this whole network letting you get all around locally and from town to town.

    Very popular is "ditch running." The rural roads are bordered by broad drainage ditches, like small canals, to channel off the rainwater from the extremely flat farmland. But periodically farm roads cross over those ditches, the summer drainage water flowing though large conduits underneath. So the snowmobilers must ride out of the ditches to cross those roads (where often there are small-scale traffic signs just for the snowmobiles, posted by the local clubs). This is where disaster often strikes.

    Telephone poles frequently follow those farm roads, to serve the farm houses along them. In poor visibility and at night the steel guy-wire cables are hard to see, and, well, the riders are decapitated, literally. Several cases happen every winter.

    Another ditch hazard are the water conduits and the concrete abutements. Going too fast or in darkness the snowmobiler fails to make the climb out in time, or accurately, doing a head-on right into one. A big sled like mine could cruise along easily at 60 mph, and sportier models at 70, with many capable of a top speed of 100. You would actually be driving your car at 60 on the road, while snowmobiles down in the ditch were passing by you.

    Thin ice on lakes and rivers in the early or late season was always claiming sleds, but I don't recall hearing if any snowmobilers themselves were lost. Riding on wooded trails provided other dangers, and I had some some misadventures of my own, like my sled sinking in deep soft snow I didn't know was there and pinning me.

    So yeah, it's a hazardous activity, and many people recommend never riding solo out in the country.