May 20, 2019
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The snowstorm will be great, but ride safely

Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
A snowmobiler zips down the home stretch during the Penobscot Snowmobile Club's "Squeeze the Throttle Vintage Snowmobile Races" in Hermon, March 18, 2017.

I may not play in the snow as much as I did a couple of decades ago, but I’m still among those who enjoy a good old-fashioned blizzard.

I’m not too keen about the shoveling, but heck, I could sit in an easy chair in front and happily watch the snow pile up for hours.

So, while some might be raiding the local Hanny’s in search of the last pack of flashlight batteries or jug of water, I’m semi-eagerly awaiting the storm that will roll into Maine on Sunday, curious about how much of the white stuff we may actually get.

A foot? Child’s play. Two feet? Sounds better. Three feet? Well, that would be one to tell the grandkids about, wouldn’t it?

With that storm — especially on a holiday weekend — will come the chance for folks to fire up their snowmobiles, some for the first time of the season, and hit the trails.

Maine’s lucky, you know. We have more than 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails that are groomed by local snowmobile clubs, and more than 80,000 sleds are registered in the state each year. In some areas, the influx of snowmobile traffic outpaces the summer tourist trade and provides the economic lifeblood of the region.

Now the bad news: Sometime this weekend, someone’s going to crash their sled. They’re going to be seriously hurt. Maybe they’ll even die.

Sound stark? It is. Did it make you stop and think for an instant? Good.

Last weekend, three separate snowmobile crashes involved seven sleds and sent several people to Maine hospitals. Maine game wardens said that in most cases, excessive speed for the conditions has been the cause of those accidents.

In my book, that sounds like every one of those crashes was avoidable, had the riders simply slowed down.

Courtesy of Maine Warden Service
Courtesy of Maine Warden Service
A snowmobiler struck and killed a calf moose while riding west of Greenville last week. Courtesy of Maine Warden Service.

An oversimplification? Sure. But here’s the thing: A simple commitment to riding safe can go a long way toward avoiding life-changing (or life-ending) accidents on the trails.

In the Bangor area, sledders haven’t enjoyed enough good snow to spend much time on their snowmobiles yet this winter, but all indications are that those conditions will change drastically over the weekend.

Statewide, we’re expecting tons of the white stuff, and as good Mainers, we’ll be out there, somewhere, enjoying that snow in the days and weeks ahead.

Just do me a favor: Think about that safety thing. Return home to hug your wife or husband or kids.

Slow down a bit. Someone will be glad that you did.

Derby season ramps up

After a string of frigid days, many of the state’s lakes and ponds have socked in nicely, just in time for fishing derby season to arrive.

If you enjoy spending a day on the hard water, you may want to head over to Lake Wassookeag in Dexter this weekend for the Dexter Fish and Game Ice Fishing Derby.

The local Knights of Columbus hall on Main Street Hill is the derby headquarters, and a variety of cool door prizes are up for grabs. Tickets are available from Jim Nicholas at PJ’s Bait Shop, Vance McNaughton at 207-227-3128 or Laurie Calhoun at 207-924-4031.

Good luck!

So, I wrote a book

In what may be a classic case of “burying the lede,” in newspaper terms, I have a bit of news to pass along: I wrote a book.

On Wednesday, I met with Dean Lunt of Yarmouth’s Islandport Press, and we finalized the deal for a book we’re tentatively calling “Evergreens, A collection of Maine outdoor stories.”

The book has been a long time in the making, as it consists of a number of columns, essays and stories that I’ve shared in these pages over the past 18 years. The title refers to the journalism term for stories that have no set shelf life and which resonate just as well a month or a year from now as they do today.

At least, that’s the goal.

According to the master plan, “Evergreens” will be available in October of this year. I’ll share more information as it becomes available.

Suffice to say, this has been a long-term goal. Thanks to all who pitched in to make it possible.

John Holyoke can be reached at jholyoke@bangordailynews.com or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke



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