Monday, February 6, 2017

Just Ask

Recently, I got a message with some questions about snowmobiles and it got me thinking - my guess is that lots of folks are curious about them. So I thought I'd take a moment to answer a few questions.

Fist of all, snowmobiles are a little like motorcycles. However, they have a lower center of gravity and the driver doesn't need to shift gears. They're so easy to drive that at 12, kids in Michigan can get a license to drive one after taking a driving course. (Which my son just finished and is now a licensed driver.)

1. Do snowmobiles have very big gas tanks?

I'm not quite sure how to answer that. The gas tank on a snowmobile is smaller than the tank on a car, but snowmobiles are much smaller than a car. Both of our snowmobiles have eight gallon gas tanks. Our older machines get just over eight miles to a gallon of gas. That translates to around 60 miles on a tank of gas. Given that I drive one mile to school each morning and then one mile home, I don't fill up all that often.

2. Where on the island do you get gas for them?

We buy gas at the hardware store. (It's on the Coal Dock, which is sometimes called UTP or Union Terminal Pier.) It's small, but can usually get anything we need. Gas there costs more than it does on the mainland, so when we can cross the ice, we usually fill up in St. Ignace.

3. When you drive across the ice bridge and reach St. Ignace, are there trails open for snowmobiles to get around town?

We can drive across the ice and then across the street to the gas station to fill up, and using some back roads access the snowmobile trails. You can't really drive around town on your snowmobile - we just hop into the car if we need to do that.

4. What's a groomer an how do you groom snowmobile trails?

A grooming machine smooths and levels out a trail. They are generally pulled behind a tractor or something similar. None of the snowmobile trails on the island are groomed. However, the cross country skiing trails are groomed using a small groomer that's pulled behind a snowmobile.

5. An article I read talked about snowmobiles going 55-70 mph. Do they really go that fast? Do you go that fast on the island?

Yes, many easily go that fast, some go even faster, but we don't ride that fast on the island. The speed limit on much of the island is 20 mph, not to mention that you don't want to drive on narrow twisty trails going much faster than that. That said, there is no speed limit out on the ice. Out there, there's plenty of space and on a clear day, great visibility. Once, on a very smooth ice bridge Allen and I crossed doing about 80 mph. (Without kids, of course.)

If anyone happens to have any more questions, leave a comment or email me, and I'll do my best to answer. And if the formatting of this post seems a bit off, my apologies. I am done fighting with Blogger about it!


Susie Q said...

Who cares about formatting? I am just interested in snowmobiles.... you added a lot to my knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I am tickled to know you drive a snowmobile to work at the school
How do the kids get there then?
Do they make carts to pull with the snowmobiles so you could have a few passengers that way?