Having successfully retrieved Jessi from the bus stop while driving at a reasonable speed, our adventures officially began. We woke up early Saturday morning, and after a breakfast of whole grain pancakes with organic raspberries we donned our down and headed up to Pickerel Lake for the most important event of the season.
For miles on the way up, we were paced by snowmobiles (a.k.a. "sleds") following a trail
parallel to the road--in fact this was a helpful clue that we were going in the right direction given the uncertainty of my backseat drivers. Eventually the sleds pealed away into the woods, cutting across the lake to the big event. I don't really know how to describe the scene when we arrived.
Imagine standing on a frozen lake under a beautiful cirrus sky, with windchills many tens of degrees below zero, and as far as the eye can see are parked hundreds of snowmobiles, pickup trucks stuck in drifts, ice fishing shacks, and hundreds of men wearing wild animals on their heads drinking Bud Light.
(Ladies, the man/woman ratio in these parts is much more favorable here than in DC.) Having hacked a giant hole in the ice, there is really only one logical course of action: (1) drive your $35000 snowmobile across it and, assuming that went well, (2) take off all your clothes and jump in--especially if you have been training for this event all winter and have just the perfect red bikini for the occasion! Oh yes, yes I did catch all this on film:
Riding the waves (video)
Rolling in the waves (video)
Paco keeps Jessi warm, hopes not to become a hat:
One of our companions, Scott, also took a dip in the frigid waters, and Paco was happy to warm him back up, too. It's always nice to see a big manly man in a Harley shirt get kissed by a Papillon. Dogs have a way of seeing through that tough exterior to the sweet heart inside.
We spent the next ten hours or so back outside, sledding every hill we could find in the city of Wausau before deciding that the hill in our own backyard was better, and furthermore it comes with hot chocolate.
Jessi demonstrates the power of the Otter II gear sled to function in downhill conditions.
Angels leave their mark.
The next day we were up early again, undaunted by a mere blizzard warning in our attempt to get Jessi back to the bus station. The first flakes were accumulating as we pulled out of the driveway, and what should have been an easy 1.5 hour drive quickly became a serious exercise in concentration. We averaged 30 mph on the highway, and the bus was long gone by the time we arrived. Thankfully, we tricked a friend of Jessi's into coming up to get her from Milwaukee--which wasn't getting any snow. My drive back home to Antigo took another 4 hours--I thought about goat's feet the entire way.