Driving with Dozer
How lucky are we to be able to enjoy the wonderment of winter? I cannot imagine living in a climate that does not see an annual sustained snow season. I remember travelling one December into the southern US and found myself in traffic listening to Jingle Bells on a local radio station whilst I watched a local resident mow his lawn. It just didn’t add up. I enjoy the summer exploits in the great outdoors but would not be able to live in a place that does not offer the ability to jump on a sled and enjoy a powder run or the opportunity to high mark some cliff face I had never visited before.
As a kid I found myself looking for ways and means to jet across the frozen ground. I started with a wooden toboggan. Migrated to a “Crazy Carpet”. Discovered “Super Slider Snow Skates. Then it happened. Dad bought a snowmobile. A 1970 Alouette. We had her scald. Go? I know she couldn’t go now I know. She was that fast that you would have to creep up on her to get aboard.
A winter trip to the cabin would not be complete unless dad gave us a tow behind the family sled on some repurposed bit of something we scrounged up around the camp. Some of the more memorable rides included a bonnet from a Volkswagen Beetle that was used to tow rocks off the beach to a cardboard box that the new fridge came in.
Engineering and reliability were nowhere near what we enjoy today. Control was always a challenge as well. From what I could remember, the skis could often be found flapping in the wind affording little in the way of directional aid. I remember one day dad and I were checking rabbit snares with another father and son team that had the exact same machine. I had the pleasure of driving that day while dad collected rabbits and readjusted the snares. As I drove the trail, I discovered a ski just like ours. I was pretty excited. What luck to find a ski that would fit on our machine and the same color too. Little did I realize that it had fallen off our friend’s machine and they were continuing on not noticing the lost appendage. We still enjoy a good laugh over that one. A day without a mechanical issue was rare. From overheating to a frozen throttle, there was always something happening that would put dad’s mechanical skills to the test. But we never gave up. And the fun that machine offered up was second to none.
Today we find ourselves commanding luxurious machines capable of feats like something out of a “Jetsons” cartoon. From suspensions that can challenge the best sofa out of a Cohens showroom to heated seats, the sport has enjoyed tremendous technological advancements. The challenge today is finding the time when conditions are good to get out and enjoy the sport. Living on the east coast of the province puts your patience to the test during the shortened winter season. I envy the folks out west that have a much great opportunity to exercise their passion on the snow. That said, there is not a day goes by that I do not think about the annual western migrations.
As readers and, hopefully, subscribers to this magazine, we all enjoy “the life behind bars”. Our enjoyment can come from many different versions of the sport. It can be the trail ride with the family and friends to side hilling with the lads. As an adult, I look for those opportunities that present the same level of excitement enjoyed when I was eight years old and it was Christmas Eve. I get that on the evening before we are about to head out on a west coast adventure.
A typical winter includes three to four trips out west. The cast of characters is of melting pot of personalities from all over the island but does include some regulars like my buddy Andrew. I am thinking he enjoys the hue of my tail light and the comfort knowing that I am leading the way. This year will be a little different than others. We lost one of our riding buddies. Glen Baker AKA Dozer, pasted away this year at the age of 54 as a result of a medical issue. He will be missed.
I coined the nickname Dozer on the first trip we travelled together. The man was a combination of “Grizzly Adams” and “Shrek”. He always had a big smile and enjoy every day to the fullest. We were all about climbing and jumping over anything that would yield air under the track. Dozer took an alternate path. Rather than flying over the humps and bumps, he would plow through them. When he saddled the big Yamaha four stroke, he was a force to be reckoned with. I remember one trip to the scenic Codroy Valley and we found ourselves high atop the trees enjoying mounds of snow. Dozer was just ahead of me and then all of a sudden he dropped out of view. I stopped my machine and walked up some twenty feet in front of me to find him about 15 feet down amongst the trees. I guess the weight of him and the machine was too great for the tops of the trees to sustain and down he went. It took whatever we had to haul him up out of that one.
Dozer enjoyed a good meal and was a clever hand when it was his turn to whip up the daily trail lunch. On one trip he brought a major pot of beef stew. He carried that on the back of the four stroke like a trophy for two days.
Each day while the supply lasted he would put that huge pot on the open fire and tend to it like a school girl with her first love letter.
We could not get enough of that one.
Dozer will be truly missed. That said, his energy and presence will always remain with us on the trail. It is my wish that his passing will serve as a further motivator to get out and enjoy the great outdoors and the incredible sport of snowmobiling. As noted above, the challenge of many snowmobile enthusiasts is not their passion for the sport but their inability to find the time to get on the snow with family and friends. Make the time. Get out and get lost in the beauty of what Mother Nature has to offer.
If you see Dozer in your travels, tell him I said hello.