SnoWest Ryan Harris Blog - Oct. 6

Smells Like Winter

White Out & Wide Open—The Blog

As pulled into the local dealership yesterday to pick up a UTV, my mind was focused on meaty tires, four-wheel-drive, sand dunes and sunscreen.


I pulled the truck and trailer alongside a row of freshly uncrated 2012 sleds. I didn't so much as blink at the new winter hardware sitting there on the asphalt. I got out, walked around and opened the back of the trailer.


Nearby, a shop technician rolled a new 2012 sled out of the shop door on a dolly. He parked it next to the building, still on the dolly, and pulled the rope. The sound caught my ears, but didn't divert my attention.


I walked back to the truck, closed the door and started walking to toward the shop entrance to get my UTV.


A puff of white smoke drifted off the propped-up 2012 sled as the tech blipped the throttle. The odors of two-stroke exhaust hit my nose.


It was over.


I stopped in my tracks. Flashbacks from unloading in parking lots on sub-zero mornings as the sleds idled with rhythmic tune nearly took me off my feet.


Forgetting where I was going, I walked over closer to the machine as the tech wicked the throttle a few more times.


Fumes of new paint burning off of an exhaust pipe time filled the air. You could smell a hint of rubber as the track paddled through the open air and sniff a new belt glazing against the clutch sheaves. Here and there you could pick up odors of the new seat cover, the fresh hood paint, the decals and grease that had oozed out of the spindle.

It was euphoric. I couldn't see anything but scenes from last winter's rides: Being wedged against a tree as I struggled to climb through chest-deep snow to the front of the stuck sled; frozen air stinging a quarter-inch strip of my cheek skin as we raced toward the mountains. I felt a tree branch strike my arm as I blasted through a tight gap with snow flying everywhere.


"HEY MORON!" The shop tech yelled at me as he backhanded my arm. "What are you doing?"


"Oh. Uh. wow, I uh, I'm not sure," I stammered.


Un-amused, he shot back, "Get off the damn sled then!"


"Oh. Oh, uh, sorry. I uh, I didn't realize I was."


He cut me off. "Why was your face buried on the gauges?!"


"Oh, that? That, uh, that was... I guess I was just smelling-uh, I mean."

"Get lost, you freak!"


I walked off as quickly as I could. I'll come back for the UTV tomorrow, I told myself.

And the truck.


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