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Published: March 16th 2011
Saying Merci & Aurevoir
Me, Rich, John, Gary & Michael with Tanya (in middle) and Angelique-super employees of the Riotel
(Contributing Photographer-Michael Weinstein: Many thanks)
When we were stuck out in the field yesterday, we had another problem I didn't mention. Gary's sled wouldn't start. It has electric start and wouldn't do anything. Skidoo had a better idea and when you buy a new sled from them with electric start, they don't give you a pull starter like every other snowmobile on the planet. We tried to jump start it from John's battery and nothing happened. Gary then had to pull out the emergency rope and finally got it started by pulling it on the clutch. When we got back to the hotel and parked in front, I tried to start mine and had the exact same problem. What else could happen????
The next morning Gary called the Skidoo dealer and they sent a couple guys with a trailer to bring our 2 sleds back to the shop. I went to the shop and after they unloaded the sleds and brought them into the shop, they showed me that the starter relay was frozen and that all we had to do was thaw it out with your hands, breath or hot coffee, and it would start. Evidently all the
powder we have been riding in got into the relay and froze. We brought the 2 sleds back to the hotel and started packing. While I was gone, Gary called to get trail conditions and was told that the main trail was now groomed and our problems should be over. Losing 2-1/2 days to the blizzard and mechanical problems, the full tour had been aborted a day ago. We now were going to ride to Mont Saint-Pierre and then decide what to do after that.
At least it wasn't snowing and we were getting on the trail. Well, there is a big hill on the trail leaving the hotel that we have bypassed the last 2 days, but John and Gary shot up the hill pretty well (with some effort), but Rich got stuck about 3/4 of the way up. Another stuck sled in the first 10 minutes! He managed to back it down the hill with a little help from Mike so the rest of us bypassed the hill and headed to the gas station.
Oh my god it was nice to ride on a groomed trail again. It was starting to feel like fun again. We
had a wonderful ride for several hours. Gary decided to make a fuel stop in a small town named La Martre. We pulled into an Esso station owned by Gilles Ouellet. Here Gary called the two hotels in Mont Saint-Pierre to make reservations. He didn't make them earlier because with our recent experience he didn't know if the trails were going to be good enough for us to make it there. More bad luck. The two hotels in Mont Saint-Pierre were already filled up. So Monsieur Ouellet started making several phone calls for us. He finally found a small motel in a town called Mont-Louis, just east of Mont Saint-Pierre. Then when I tried to start my sled, the relay acted up again. I warmed it with my hands and breathed on it to no avail. Mrs. Ouellet brought me a cup of hot water and that didn't fix it either. It turns out that Gilles is a good mechanic and once raced snowmobiles. When he saw that the relay was the problem, he jumped it out with a piece of wire and it started right up. Once again, he showed the hospitality and helpfulness of the Quebecois I've experienced
the whole time here. Just wonderful people.
After all this, it was starting to get dark and we just wanted supper and a bed. True of every day, it couldn't end without some more trouble. When we got to Mont Louis, the trail ran behind the town, but with all the new snow, we couldn't find a spur trail into the streets of town. Gary decided to try to cut through toward the street and had to go through a drift to get through. It turned out to be between a house and a garage. And....another sled got stuck in the drift. While the guys were working on that, a car pulled up and a gentleman that spoke very little English asked if he could help. I told him that we were looking for the Motel Mont Louis and he told us to follow him there. When we got there it was now around 9:00 and the motel owner's cook had left so there would be no dinner there. The gentleman then drove down to a restaurant and asked them to stay open for us and they did. Another wonderful, helpful person. The restaurant turned out to be excellent
and we had a great meal there. I crawled into bed thoroughly exhausted again. Some long, tough days!
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