Dan & Sheri Vertina
Rode 205.3 miles from International Falls to Mahnomen, MN
Day 1: We started out at -20 degrees again. We departed at 9am down the grade … BRRR!! Went 90 miles to a great cup of coffee at Poor Willies. We got gas at Pete’s 20 miles later. Then down the Itasca Park system to Pinehurst for the best chicken dumpling soup. We set out on our last leg to the casino and our trip is done in 9 hours.
We were the first to make tracks on most of the trails. Dan did boulder removal – try that in leathers with 3 days of clothes on your back! Oops, no shoes, quick trip to Alco for some slip-ons. We saw 1 deer, 1 sled, 2 groomers and 3 ice fishermen … doesn’t anyone go outside anymore? Maps and phone apps don’t do much good if there isn’t a sign! We were lucky the sun was still up so we could tell north and west was the way to go.
Neilden Vatthauer & Jim Miesbauer
Rode 501 miles from Byron to Mahnomen, MN
Day 1: We got 5 miles out of Byron and Neilden’s sled suspension was stuck in down position and we thought the ride was done. We pried it up with a stick and bound it up and down and finally got it working. I appeared to have been an ice problem.
Day 2: We had no problems the rest of the way from mile 5 on the first day until we got to the parking lot next to our motel in Fergus Falls. We came in over a huge embankment that dropped about 4 to 5 feet straight down. Neilden led and as I came up the backside I slowed up too much and of course I got stuck. I could not budge it. With Neilden’s help and 10 to 15 minutes later we finally got it out. It was hard work for an old man!
Day 3: We finally made it. It was an interesting ride and a bit on the cool side. But, any ride not mater how bad is still better than a good day at work!
Colin Brown & Wade Bemmels
Rode 494 miles from Loretto to Mahnomen, MN
Before Day 1: After Wade’s unexpected tip to Atlantic City returning late Wed. evening we worked until 2am preparing our sleds for the ride. VES cleaning, drive shaft-bearing, changed chaincase fluid and general maintenance, etc. While Wade was returning from Atlantic City, we also found out he would be unable to ride back home due to a family event. Having tentative plans to get him and his sled home from Mahnomen, we made the decision to depart first thing Thurs. morning and figure it out on the way.
Day 1: After a few hours of sleep, we woke Thurs. morning tired and a little late. Both of us leaving a wife and two kids behind, a good breakfast, hugs and kisses and the rendezvous adventure begins! As we departed that morning both of our phones advised a wind chill advisory. Wade chose to wear his fancy new helmet and found the advisory was indeed in effect! After freezing the bridge of his nose he decided it might be a good idea to “make some adjustments.” Like most of our rides, he seems to thing less is sufficient and I travel with a second set of everything. We got his heads and hands warm and set out once again. Starting in Hennepin County, we traveled through Wright, Meeker, Stearns, Pope, Todd and Douglas counties without seeing another snowmobiler. I’m guessing the frigid temps and wind had much to do with it! We were met by Todd the groomer in Meeker County who was kind enough to stop for a trailside chat and thanked him for his volunteer time. Lunch was at Douchies n St. Martin where we again met a group local people and learned of their city biker rally every July. Dinner at Herbie’s in Carlos provided many great laughs, a few new friends and an education on up north dice games. Our journey for the day ended at Viking Bay Resort.
Day 2: We made the decision to skip breakfast and hit the trails … bad idea! We first headed for Inspiration Peak and took a few pictures as proof. The wind was down while the temps were too! We finally found some grub at a lakeside restaurant in Battle Lake and were re-energized for day 2. As we made our way north Wade had the great experience of seeing a flock of wild turkeys … me not so much! I was almost killed by a wild turkey and I’m not talking the stuff in the bottle! Once again proving to Wade, less is sometimes not sufficient (his 4” windshield vs .my seeming 24” windshield). I’m sure the wind deflection was enough to create the required turkey lift needed that we missed a near death by snowmobile turkey collision. And what does my close buddy do after my scare … sits and laughs at me uncontrollably like I had some control over the situation. Now this is the sign of a true friend and riding buddy! We arrived in Mahnomen around 7pm and quickly found familiar faces and met a few new members. To wrap up the night, in Wade’s true form, he encouraged me to gamble all my winning away and Iwent to bed broke!
Jack, Freya & Rikki White
Rode 160 miles to Mahnomen, MN
After a very unsuccessful try at the Mud Dog run last year, Dad promised we had everything figured out of this year. He fixed his problematic Polaris and bought Mom a brand new Yamaha Apex in preparation. He even ordered a tall, aftermarket windshield for it.
However, it wouldn’t be a winter trip with the Whites if there wasn’t some sort of problem. The windshield never came. Dad drove 140 miles round trip to buy another won the night before we left. After an hour of struggling to get it mounted, he realized it was indeed the wrong windshield.
As Dad knows best for his wimpy women, he suggested trailing down to Mahnomen. When 8 a.m. rolled around, it was 45 below with a tiny windshield. That wasn’t going to stop Mom and I. Five layers of clothing later and we were off. We flew past the spot where we got stuck last year with no problems. It looked like it would be clear sailing.
And it was… until we met the groomer. The trail was narrow so we all had to pull off into the side bank. The groomer moved over, as well, as he chugged along past us. Dad, trying to be the helpful leader, tried to sneak forward and instead tipped over and landed inside of the groomer’s drag. Dad uprighted everything and we pressed on.
Dad finally let us women stop for a bathroom break at Lake Ozawindib. Mom, who’s face looked a little beat up from the lack of windshield, scurried into the outhouse. Dad and I finished looking over the map, and there still no sign of Mom. She was frozen to the toilet seat of what we now call “Frozen Ass Lake.”
It was nearing dark and we still had 30 miles to go, providing we didn’t get lost. And, I was out of gas.
We hit Naytawaush and Dad pulled into the street where he flagged down a woman. She pulled over on the wrong side of the road, followed by another truck. Not even 30 seconds later, we were surrounded by cop cars.
After reassuring them there was no accident and that we were just looking for gas, we were free to go. Once we were gassed up, we hit the throttle and finally made it to Mahnomen.
After attending the Rendezvous for more than a decade, since I was a wee little 8-year-old, and after complications last year that caused us not to finish the run, we finally made it as a family.
Another year, another story to tell.
ULTRA 8 riders 144 miles
Day 1: Wednesday night getting ready, one sled still not running. Finally drove home at 9:30 and still not running right. Load up and back to the dealer. He works on it early morning checking wiring harnesses, put in new injectors and still cut out. Finally find out the spark plugs were loose – problem solved. Removed new injectors and we’re about an hour late to leave. We get going about 1 mile and the Ski-Doo stops on the trail – being a nice guy to move a rock off the trail. He tries to lift it and falls on his belly! Another try and it’s he moves it off.
Off we go to Park Rapids. A wrong turn takes us further north so we come back and pass the right stop into Park Rapids and to Walker. The Ski-Doo starts getting louder because the exhaust manifold bolts fell out. We are now loading it onto the trailer. The Yamaha had new special wear bars and coming across the lake the back of the sled wants to come around to the front and spin.
As usual our trail boss and point man cannot figure the right route, but after putting the point man down, he supposedly moves to the rear. Lesson learned – n ever argue with the trail boss. He will never let one forget!
Rikki, Jack & Freya White, Dan & Sheri Vertina 160 miles
After numerous years of attending the Winter Rendezvous, finally as a college student my family had the opportunity to ride our sleds down together as a way to spend some quality time together (my parents made me put that in there). After many days of preparation the plan had been decided to meet with their friends the Vertinas from International Falls on the junction on the Blue Ox Trail. We started out Thursday morning out impatiently waiting for the Vertinas to arrive until we received a phone call when we realized we had both been waiting on opposite sides of the hill. After about 15 miles of riding and stopping we finally managed to take care of some minor equipment and wardrobe malfunctions, we were warmed up and ready to haul some butt. The hauling lasted all of 60 seconds before my dad’s check engine light came on. After some deliberating, he decided to put tape over it, and “press on regardless.” The problem soon went from check engine to his snowmobile starving for fuel and dying. After conquering 38 miles in a mere 2 hours on railroad grade, we decided to leave mom behind with the broken snowmobile and take the trip to the gas station 2 miles away to pick up the isopropyl cure-all. The 2 miles quickly turned into 8.6 as dad always knows best, but a big geographically challenged. On the return trip three snowmobiles made record time, however the isopropyl ends up 17.8 miles north, dad always know best. Once again we were on our way, unfortunately the isopropyl cure-all was not curing anything. Dad gave it his best effort to get me to the Rendezvous as we trudged on another 2.8 miles of turning the key, hitting the throttle and repeat. As it was getting close to noon and we had traveled less than 1/3 of the way dad sent us off on our way without him. My family bonding time turned into me riding with a nice lady and some Joker in a Hawaiian shirt. We quickly made up for the lost time and stopped to have a drink at Ye Old Pickle where I called to check in and found that my parents were in quite the pickle themselves, they had misplace the broken sled. Up the trail the next stop revealed the sled had been delivered to the dealer, all problems taken care of, until almost witnessing a flattened Hawaiian shirt on the road. Hoping this was the end of the bad luck streak, we took off with pegged throttles pulling in just before dark. Thankfully we made it, were all able to reunite at the Rendezvous and in my eyes dad still knows best.
Colin Brown 200 miles
Day 1: Rode solo from Loretto! Go NW Trails!
Four Grandpas & a Hot Grandma
Grandpa #1 Renee Stadin 80
Grandpa #2 Bill Voigt 81
Grandpa #3 Terry Peterson 66 AKA Leader
Grandpa #4 Mark Steinmueller 55 AKA Pup
Hot Grandma Diane Peterson 29
Left Brook Park at 7:35 am, got onto lake .2 miles later and the check engine light come on. What the heck, stop open hood, I forgot to install oxygen sensor Monday night after working on the sled, installed sensor with leatherman and I’m back on my way. Two minutes later hit ice heave on lake, everything is okay, haven’t made it to the trail yet. At 7:55 I’m finally on the trail headed to Hinckley and Munger Trail. At Munger Trail meet Grandpa 1 and Grandpa 2. Keep on towards Sturgeon Lake and at 9:00 am meet Grandpa 3 and Hot Grandma at Embasy, after potty stop back on the trail with Leader up front. At 10:00 pull into McGregor and lose the trail, but find our way to Holiday to gas up and potty stop. (Once you hit 50, never pass a potty stop.) Head to Aitkin then on to Crosby, two missed turns Leader needs glasses checked as he crosses Hwy 6 with less than preferred gap for an on coming car. We get a table for lunch and call past president Twombly to join us, he always tells us to call if in town, but he blows us off saying he is way too busy, then tells us to take the river, there is only one big open spot. We ignore Twombly, take the trail and get to Craguns at 3:30 – 168 miles.
This is the sixth ride by most of members having finished second at Willmar, the average age of the group is 69.