The Times They are A-Changin
This isn’t a down-on-your-luck story or tale of misfortune. It’s merely an account of how life can throw you for a loop sometimes. Even if you don’t have a definite plan for how you want your life to turn out, circumstances can often change in ways you never expected. I would know because that’s exactly what I experienced during the winter of 2015. How does this relate to snowmobiling you ask? I’ll get to that.
It started back in February, 2015. I was working a 4 on, 4 off schedule on an oil rig in Albania for nearly 4 years, but when I went back there this time things were different. The oil industry was tanking hard (pardon the pun) and there was uncertainty for everyone involved. The drilling fleet had gone from 5 rigs down to 2 and I had a feeling this would be my last stint in Albania.
Just 2 days before I was scheduled to return home my fears were realized. I was told I would not be coming back to work because another rig was shutting down. Even though I knew this day was coming I was absolutely gutted. I loved working in Albania and had gotten used to the lifestyle that came with it.
I didn’t sleep much those last couple of days before returning home but once I landed in Deer Lake on March 4th, my mind was instantly put at ease. I could already smell that sweet 2-stroke cold smoke! I spent just about every day for the next month and a half riding my Pro RMK 800 all around the Deer Lake, Cormack, Jackson’s Arm, and Gros Morne regions. It was a great distraction from the stress and uncertainty of being unemployed for the first time in 10 years.
Whenever I wasn’t on my sled during those 6 or 7 weeks after being laid off I was sending resumes and cover letters to dozens and dozens of companies. My persistency finally paid off and I finally started working again in July at the nickel plant in Long Harbour.
The new job meant another major change in my life. My wife and I now had to move to the Avalon Peninsula, a place I never thought I would live again (I lived in St. John’s for 9 years before moving to Alberta in 2005). Remember how I said life can change in ways you never expected? Well, this was definitely one of those times for us. Even though it was early July when we moved, one of the things on my mind the most was the disappointment of moving from what I consider a sledding Mecca to a place that isn’t known for its snow accumulation.
I left my sled at my parents’ house in Jackson’s Arm for the winter of 2015-16 and went out there every chance I got. I did have some good rides last winter but the number of miles I put on my sled was drastically reduced compared to the winter before.
The highlight of my winter was the day my cousin Jordan House and I rode in Gros Morne with Sledworthy owner Andrew Goldsworthy, his brother John, and Jason Snow. The weather and snow conditions were absolutely perfect and I was riding with an awesome group of guys. I learned a lot from watching those guys ride. Andrew could sidehill for days! It’s days like these that make me so passionate about sledding, especially in western NL.
This year I brought my sled out east so I could do some minor work on it before the riding season starts again. This is a big change for me as well. I’ll now have to trailer my sled across the island when I want to go riding. I haven’t had to do that since I moved back from Alberta in 2011. Although the thought of a road trip to go sledding
excites me, I can’t help but yearn to move back to the west coast of the island again. I really miss the freedom of stepping outside my house, hopping on my sled, and going as long and far as a tank of gas would allow. I didn’t have to make any huge plans, take holidays, arrange for a bed to sleep in, or spend any money other than to buy gas for my sled.
I wonder how many other people out there are going through the same changes that I am. I doubt I’m the only one. I guess I just have to look at the positive side of things. Maybe this change will help me gain a new appreciation for sledding. After all, I still get to ride with amazing people in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and that’s not something to take for granted.