I don’t know about you, but we have reached the point in the year when I have decided it’s spring. It’s spring. It’s spring even though this is North Dakota and last week we had thirty-below wind temperatures and there’s a ton of snow on the ground. Also, astronomers and humanity have determined spring doesn’t begin in the Northern Hemisphere until March. Still, the sunshine looks like spring (and I’m tired of wearing socks); therefore, it is spring, so sayeth I.
Since it is basically spring, it feels like there has been a large uptick in outdoor winter-based activities so that everyone can use their new cross-country skis before it’s time to pack them up in the garage (and, in the case of my family, forget about them forever). Last week, Kyle stood at the kitchen window, coffee cup in hand, staring at a few small drifts of snow that had blown onto our backyard rink. The temperature was roughly -15.
“If we don’t clear off the rink by Sunday, there won’t be any more skating this year,” he said, and sniffed.
In addition to mourning the future loss of his beloved rink (note: last year he took it down in May), Kyle has become hot and bothered with the idea that summer is just around the corner and he only got to snowmobile once this winter – at Christmastime, when we were up in Saskatchewan at his dad’s house.
Kyle comes from an outdoorsy family. Even if you set aside the fact that his dad is a third-generation farmer and my limited understanding of farming families is that the #1 rule is that you must be in the process of going outside or be actually outside for 90% of your waking hours (the #2 rule is that you must have at least one story that starts out, “We were digging/standing around this hole when…”), they are still the type of family that does things outdoors for fun. If we go back to the snowmobiling thing, for example, my father-in-law likes to go on multi-day snowmobile trips with his buddies, which are like road trips but on a sled (and not on the road).
My family, on the other hand, is indoorsy. Even when we do things outside, the goal of the activity is to get back inside – like, if we go hiking, we need to be back by a set time because we have a lunch reservation. I met Kyle in December 2004 and we were engaged by April 2005, which meant there was about a four-month period where I fought hard against my natural instincts so as to seem “cool” and “fun” and “basically a different person.” Since part of that dating period happened, coincidentally, in this pre-spring timeline we are in now, I took part in the aforementioned activity of snowmobiling, and I’m going to tell you about that now.
With all that “coolness” and “funness” abounding, Kyle and I got very serious very quickly, and decided we’d better take a trip up to Canada so I could meet his brothers before we surprised them with an engagement.
“Pack your winter gear!” Kyle told me. “We can spend Saturday snowmobiling!”
“Awesome!” I replied, probably truthfully because I was, then, a different person.
Saturday rolled around. We had breakfast, and I made a big show about putting on long underwear, sweats, snowpants, two pairs of socks, boots, and jacket. Kyle topped off the outfit with a snowmobile helmet.
“You’re legit!” He told me.
“Sure am!” I said, legitly.
“Where are you going?” Kyle’s mom asked.
“Just around,” Kyle said – a phrase which I, his wife of 17 years, now knows means “Somewhere that will take much longer than anyone but Kyle has anticipated and will definitely go over a meal hour.”
We got on the snowmobiles. Kyle offered me some very in-depth instruction which included, “This is the gas” and “This is the brake,” and then pointed in the direction of a snowy field across from the house. He gave me a thumbs up, and I gave him a thumbs up, and we were off.
Or, rather, Kyle was off because the normal me came out and realized I was 1) outside, 2) operating a motor vehicle, and 3) didn’t know the plan for lunch. Still, if I was going to potentially marry into this outdoorsy family I figured I should make an effort to be amazing at #1 and #2, and assumed my future-future husband would have some kind of wonderful picnic planned at a secret destination. I gently turned the throttle(?) and the snowmobile shot off into the sunshine. And by “shot off,” I mean crawled along at about fifteen kilometers per hour.
Kyle realized I was moving at basically a walking pace, and so he slowed down. It took either five minutes or 300 hours for me to reach him. He gave me a thumbs up, and I gave him a thumbs up, although my thumb was already cold. He took that gesture to mean, “I’m doing so great, let’s go MUCH MUCH faster.” He sped up to 30 kph, and then 50 – and I, for reasons unknown to me even now, did the same.
You’ll be surprised to hear that snowmobiles ride on the snow. You’ll also be surprised to hear that when you ride a snowmobile (or sled, or basically anything) quickly through the snow, the snow flies up at your body and face. And you’ll be REALLY surprised to know that after another five minutes or 300 hours of being showered with snow in the outdoors without a lunch reservation in sight, I turned back into my normal, non-cool self.
We were somewhere in the middle of a (different) field when I shut off my snowmobile. Kyle flipped around.
“You okay?” He asked.
“I’d like a break,” I said.
“Okay,” he said. He took my picture.
“Ready?” He asked.
“No,” I said. “More of a break.”
“Okay,” he said, and looked around into what could be described as an unending winter abyss. I sniffed, sad that I was going to have to break up with this great guy because I couldn’t be the type of person who liked having snow pelted at my face.
But then, a miracle happened.
“The Shack is nearby,” Kyle said. “Do you want to have lunch?”
The Shack was (and is, assuming it’s still there) a little one-room house in the middle of a copse of trees for snowmobilers to rest between rides. It had a little bench, a little fireplace, and a little table where Kyle set down the cooler he had packed without my knowledge. In it was a pack of hot dogs.
“Are you having fun?” Kyle asked me.
“Yes,” I said, because I loved hot dogs and the indoors of things.
“Do you want to go back home after this?”
“Yes please,” I said.
“No problem,” Kyle said, because he loved me.
Eighteen years later, I haven’t gotten back on the proverbial horse. I have, however, become mildly more outdoorsy, to the point that I went on a five-minute ride on my father-in-law’s fancy new Ranger…before making Kyle turn around so I could get ready for lunch.
The photo above is a montage of our snowmobile trip. Look how outdoorsy I am!
Minot’s JJ Franks – a seventh grader, by the way – is $10,000 richer after making a lay-up, free throw, three-point shot, and half-court shot at Bishop Ryan. (KFYR TV) (Today Show)
Team North Dakota is headed to the ice sculpting nationals. (Valley News Live)
Emma Buee is the first female wrestler from Des Lacs-Burlington to sign a college commitment (she’s going to Augsburg University). (KFYR TV)
The Native American Development Center in Bismarck is now hosting youth drum circles in order to connect students with the music and culture of their elders. (KFYR TV)
TrainND is looking to “kill” people with kindness in order to fund scholarships for CDL drivers, crane operators, and other technical services. (Williston Herald)
A neighborhood in Bismarck came together to build one centralized ODR. (KFYR TV)
Taking someone fishing could net you an ice house. (KFYR TV)
Save yourself the clicks.
Sign up for the weekly North Dakota Nice email and get this story and the news delivered to your inbox once a week (and never more than that).