Friday, February 1, 2008

3 Smart Choices in One Cute Picture

As some of my friends already know, we are in beta mode at our place in the hills between the Adirondacks and the Catskills, testing the feasibility of year-round residence.

The Arctic Cat ATV you see here was an early purchase, mainly for pleasure, but also for utility (the miniature pickup-bed behind the driver actually tilts--very useful for hauling and dumping firewood, dirt, etc.). The rack on the front is a handy place to strap tools, axe, chainsaw, shotgun, and so on.

We have had great use of this 4x4 on the trails around the property, but in terms of mileage the main use has been dog walking: our Springer Spaniel loves to run ahead of it.

But we don't just drive the ATV around to exercise the dog while we conserve human calories sitting in the driver's seat. No-o-o. We drive to previously unexplored locations, park, then head off on our own two feet, weather permitting.

And speaking of weather, smart choice number two in this picture is the Warn snow plow. Installed by Dan Beebe, a.k.a. "Dan the ATV Man," of Performance Recreation, this plow really gets the job done. Following Dan's advice, we installed chains on the rear tires and we always plow in Low gear with 4-wheel drive engaged. Haven't got stuck yet. Raising and lowering the plow is handled by the Warn winch (barely visible just above the plow). The winch came pre-installed on the ATV and the fingertip controls are fully integrated on the handlebar.

Thanks to a simple but effective design the winch can still be used with the plow installed, like when I had to haul a fallen tree off the trail to get back to base camp (in fact the plow worked well as an anchor when the winch started to exert serious tension on the dead weight of the tree trunk).

And of course the third smart choice in the picture is the lady at the controls, my amazing partner Chey (as in: I chose her and she, thankfully, chose me). Who knew she would be a talented and enthusiastic plower of snow. That simply wasn't on my radar when I spotted her, over twenty years ago, amid San Francisco's ultra-cool coffee-house scene.

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