Snowmobiling Lessons

By Kandace Chapple, GTWoman Editor


On snowmobiles. Weekends and evenings were spent outside sliding off the back of the slick seat of a 1981 Ski-Doo, trying to hang on to one another, riding double.

Of course, the point was to dump the other one off, pretend we didn’t notice and leave a sister in the field, enjoying a solo ride for a few glorious moments.


The older we got, the more trouble we could come up with. We spent weekends snowmobiling out to sledding hills with a pull-behind trailer on skis stocked with firewood, hotdogs and Pepsi. Our mom did all the work then, and little did we know how much work that must have been. We were focused solely on building jumps big enough to break a leg.

Finally, we set out on day trips, where we didn’t fall asleep riding between our mother’s legs, our helmet hitting the handlebars. Then we became drivers… although we still had to share a sled.


We borrowed Dad’s sled and took off with the guys, our newest interest. And the soon-to-be boyfriends were, of course, in awe. A couple Interlochen babes aboard a 1986 Phazer? It was love at first snowfall.

One afternoon, we decided to ride out to T-ville, where, believe it or not, the action was. We stopped at the Laughing Horse Saloon for lunch, our snow bibs unzipped and hanging off our waists, our helmets benched along the wall. We split the burger and the bill. It was the epitome of a high-end date in our teens.

We thought we were charming then, over watered-down Sprites, but it was after lunch on the way home, that we sealed the deal.

I was driving, Kerry’s arms wrapped around my waist, and the boys were behind us on their own machines. We were 16, parent-free, and, for the most part, senseless.

Up ahead, I could see a pile of snow-covered gravel next to the now-defunct railroad bed. A jump, as it were.

As we approached, something unfortunate happened. One of the boys tried to pass me. Some gals would have let it go, but, no, I wanted the lead and, perhaps, an audience.


At the moment when I could have gone straight past the gravel pile, I went right, the throttle pinned to the handlebar.

I hit the jump going wide open.

And there we were, up above the world, the boys tiny specks below us down on the trail, the Phazer’s orange and red decals gleaming as it reached for the January sun. For a moment, there was no gravity, no thought, no time. Just silence.

We thought we were dead.

But what was done, was done. We had nothing left to do but wait for the earth to greet us again.

Which took a while.

When we finally landed, I imagined our father, working in his pole barn in Interlochen, felt the impact of his Phazer depreciating by a couple hundred bucks, maybe more.


The skis wrenched one way, then the other when we hit the ground. But, somehow, with my now-boyfriend’s eyes upon me, I kept control. I rolled the narrow, black machine to a stop, calm. It was something, really it was, to witness teenage bravado in the moment.

When the plume of snow settled, we found ourselves well off the trail. And our boys came running over, shouting in approval.

They inspected us first. We were alive. Off we got, limp with relief, falling to the ground in lumps of polyester, laughing, celebrating and admitting things had gone a little too far.

The boys inspected the sled next. It was decided that the Phazer could make the trip home, that they were in love, and that, of course, no one would tell Dad a thing.

You know what we call this kind of thinking? Vision. Poor vision.

And with that, we welcome you to our “Vision 2020” JAN/FEB issue of GTWoman, where dreams, ideas and launches are celebrated!

By Kandace Chapple, GTWoman Editor

Kandace Chapple is not only the Editor but also publishers of Grand Traverse Woman. It is the only magazine that serves women who live, work and play in Northern Michigan. Follow us on facebook to stay up to date on the latest & greatest from @grandtraversewoman

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