There's a saying, coined by Daniel Tosh, that goes roughly thus: Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy a jetski, and you don't see sad people on jetskis. Well, my friends, I'm here to tell you that the same holds true for snowmobiles. They are awesome.
If you're one of the existing fanatics who lives in one of those cold places where owning a snowmobile is normal, or if you live in Florida and have seen a snowmobile as part of some weird crime involving a beat-up pickup truck/methlab and a chronic public masturbator, apologies. This comes from the heart of someone recently smitten by the small, loud, fast machine that devours fresh powder with the voracity of the world's fattest man at a hot dog eating contest.
I had an opportunity to let my inner 12-year-old out this past week, while visiting a friend up in Victor, Idaho (if you're from there and reading this, my sincerest apologies for terrorizing your livestock and keeping you up at night with screaming two stroke motors). After stocking up at a huge fireworks stand in Wyoming, I arrived at this friend's house to find that, other than what I had expected — pretty decent skiing half an hour from the house — there were also three snowmobiles sitting in his driveway. One of the sleds was a 600 cc Polaris that is now one of the fastest gas-powered land things I've ever piloted.
Now, I've driven snowmobiles before, but they were much slower. And although you could, if you were stupid enough (I definitely was), get one of those puny snow machines up to about 70 mph on a plowed road, the acceleration wasn't what I'd call inspiring. But this 600 cc snowmobile, its red plastic glinting against fresh snow, was scary fast. Full acceleration on a plowed road was impossible without turning the thing sideways. It needed deeper snow to bite into.
I found out how fast it really was when we found an open, snow-covered field that seemed to say, "Hoon on me!" So hoon we did, and if you've never felt what it's like to ride your bicycle over a foot of snow at 75 mph, that's what it was like. And friends, I'm here to tell you that it's amazing.
Smashing the throttle wide open, the thing took off with the kind of speed that seemed likely to make me fall off the back. As I went faster and faster, a picture formed within my mind, detaching me from the madness of speed, uneven terrain, and icy wind blasting my numb face: I hit an unseen swale, time slows down, I float, ever so gracefully through the air, the sled pirouetting alongside me. I black out just after slamming into the ground under the sled, missing out on the experience of my body rag-dolling into a pile of irrigation equipment.
Luckily, none of that happened. Eventually, we slowed down, picked up our girlfriends, and drove the sleds to a cross country skiing trail for some more responsible fun. But (and I realize that there are those of you who are well acquainted with this, so bear with me), you can use these things for anything as long as there's snow on the ground. Need groceries? Snowmobile. Have to take your dog out for a brisk walk? Snowmobile. Picking up your kids from school? snowmobile. Meeting friends for a beer at the bar around the corner? Absolutely snowmobile.
Now, don't go out and get a snowmobile and drive like an asshat just because I did. Besides, having watched a number of snowmobile hoon videos at the ski resort bar last week, I'll be the first to tell you that my amateurish stunts were nothing compared to what the pros can do. Those guys huck their sleds off of 30-foot cliffs like it ain't no thang and all other manner of insane shit.