Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Old Iron



A few days after this photo was taken (two weeks ago), the weather warmed up rapidly and has remained in a range that actually feels like spring—high forties during the day, low thirties at night. The snow disappeared quickly, except for the dirty piles in the corners of parking lots. Small tundra ponds around town have little or no ice left. The willow trees in the yard have fuzzy green buds on them. Winter really is over.

Last weekend Dutch got our three snowmachines ready to be put to bed for summer. They are now parked on pallets out of the mud, wiped down and snugly covered. The tails are raised so the track can turn freely for periodic crank-ups over the summer.

This morning we awoke to snow falling and nearly an inch of accumulation overnight. The temperature was just below freezing, and it won’t last, but Dutch said “maybe we should get the snowmachines back out!”

Meltdown conditions are actually approaching treacherous for travel, and he was just kidding about the snowmachines. But after ten days of spring weather, it was interesting to note how it felt to see snow falling again. I actually was delighted. If this were the leading edge of a little cold front, we might get one last shot at winter dog mushing (as opposed to spring-summer-fall bare-ground dog mushing).

Alas, apparently not. Though the tundra whitened up from the snow, the thermometer is approaching +40F, so it won’t last.

And what’s with the photo? Well, I think it is the oldest snowmachine I’ve ever seen. It has been running around town all winter, so is clearly in operating condition. When I saw it parked across the street from our house, I just had to take a picture of it.

My guess is that it is early 1970s vintage Polaris. I had thought that the late 1960s were the dawn of snowmachines (click here for an interesting link that corrected my misimpression), but Dutch’s new Polaris has a seal on the dash commemorating their 50th anniversary, 1956-2006. This machine represented a decade of evolution from where they started. I should not be surprised that it still runs; if anyone can tinker an old snowmachine into life, it is a Yupik man.
Photo by the Tundra PA. Snowmachines are sometimes referred to as "iron dogs", hence the post title.

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5 Comments:

Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Aha! So that's what we're having: an Alaskan spring. Low 30's at night, barely hits 50 during the day. After two glorious days of 70-80 degrees, this shit came back and won't stop. See? I don't have to go to Alaska to experience Alaska. Oh; no snow, though.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, glad
Alaska is ahead of northern/upper Michigan. Still with several feet on the ground and 8 inches predicted for tomorrow. I'm sick of it now, want spring.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 5:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well you can not tell people there that is it is warmer where you live ie alaska then it is in the middle of Central Illinois I was also unable to find your e-mail can you please send it again or post it thanks LMay41112aol.com

Sunday, April 15, 2007 9:19:00 AM  
Blogger TheTundraPA said...

You've earned some serious bragging rights when where you live is colder than Alaska! This morning we had 20 degrees and a hard frost, but a clear blue sky so we'll probably make 40 today.

#1 Dino, I commisurate with you; even one glorious day in the 70s makes a spring cold snap feel just plain wrong! I hope things have warmed back up for you since Wednesday.

Anon--I've always thought that if I ever left Alaska, I might like the UP. Never been there, but I'd sure love to visit.

LMay--email address is under my profile: thetundrapa@yahoo.com.

Thanks for commenting!

Sunday, April 15, 2007 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a quick note that is a Ski Doo and not A Polaris

Thursday, August 23, 2007 8:40:00 AM  

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