I was at Anchorage Brewing Company vending artwork when Iron Dog racer, Mike Morgan, came up to talk to me about my paintings. We had a long chat, and he told me all about racing to Nome on Polaris sleds. The Iron Dog is a high speed trail race using two-stroke, air-cooled, high performance motors. I told him I just sold my old 1993 Polaris Indy Lite 340 and was in the market for a 2-up trail sled. 2-up doesn’t mean you have two extra lives in Super Mario Brothers, but that two people can safely ride the ATV. We discussed snowmachines, or snowmobiles for those of you who live anywhere but Alaska. We also discussed the market for making paintings with snowmobile/snowmachine themes. I wanted a sled that we could use to get to our cabin in the winter and haul supplies and water, but also get out on the trails, and maybe even ride part of the Iditarod trail.
I went into Alaska Mining and Diving, the Ski-Doo dealer here in Anchorage, and asked about ordering a 2023 Ski-Doo Expedition Sport. They pretty much laughed at me and said that it takes a year to get a new machine, and to stop back in February when they signed people up for next year’s models. Well, a few weeks ago I figured I should stop back in and see if they had changed the dates, and if the sales plan was the same. It was my lucky day, because an Expedition Sport had just arrived, and the man who ordered it last year was unable to obtain financing. I thought about it, and came back and purchased the snowmobile.
I will call them snowmobiles from now on. Alaskans call them snowmachines, or sleds, but not snowmobiles. But, if you search the Internet for snowmachine, you don’t get many posts, except for Alaskan ones. The whole world calls these ATVs snowmobiles. My new owner’s manual refers to it as a snowmobile on almost every page. So, to be most accurate I will refer to it as a snowmobile. As I type right now, snowmobile is a recognizable word on my computer, while snowmachine is highlighted as a misspelled word. If you refer to a snowmobile as a snowmachine anywhere else in the world, people think you’re talking about a snowmaking device for ski areas, or a snowblower. If you say snowmobile in Alaska, people ask you where you’re from.
I have a brand new Ski-Doo with less than nine miles on it, and I want to take it out and get some pictures of Alaska. Maria left town last week and I took the snowmobile out for its very first ride. I went four miles before I tipped it over, and it was really hard to flip back over by myself. So after righting the sled, I turned back around and snowmobiled to my truck. When Maria gets back, we are going to ride at Big Lake to practice some more. I also want to go to Willow and drive the Iditarod trail, and explore around Wrangell-St. Elias NP. We also have plans to ride to Knik and Spencer Glaciers to take pictures of snowmobiles at glaciers. What I don’t want to do is go to the top of steep mountains and risk getting buried in an avalanche. I have a trail sled with 60 horsepower that probably won’t go up a mountain anyway, but it does have a hitch for towing, and I want to go expeditioning! I plan to make some paintings along the way. I can totally carry painting supplies to our cabin, as well as food and water now. Let’s get out in the winter and have a good time!