Motorcycles and Snowmobiles



George and Betty were dyed-in-the-wool Harley people. With George in front and Betty behind, the two of them had toured the lower forty-eight states, Canada, and Alaska. Betty was happy to share George’s motorcycle rather than having one of her own. Her sense of direction was poor. It was easier to leave the complications up to him.  The journeys consumed nearly twenty years, fitting their excursions into vacations and extended holidays. The two of them ran and played as hard as they could, but eventually age caught up to them. With George, approaching seventy-five and Betty not far behind, they questioned the wisdom of playing so hard. Young at heart, in spite of their years, they cast about for slower, more peaceful  pastime, something midway between a motorcycle and a rocker.


That autumn they sold their Southern California home and Harley and then relocated in Colorado.  Once settled, they bought a pickup, a camper, a utility, and a pair of modest snowmobiles. Then they joined a Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Group populated by folks their own age.


The fun was waiting for them to arrive. With chili feeds, and campouts the fellowship was similar to the activities they’d enjoyed with the California  Retread Motorcycle Club. In short, they’d traded a ribbon of concrete for an extended accumulation of snow. Weeks passed. As they grew more familiar with their machines, they installed CB radios and then began venturing out on their own.


Ignoring a blizzard forecast, they packed some extra food, a thermal blanket for each of them, and set out for high mountains to visit a fabled plateau that jutted out over a wilderness area. It was called Bristol Head.


A forest service representative working the Rio Grande area provided a map and instructions that allowed them to drive their pickup within about fifteen miles of the overlook.


They found the route he’s shown them and then located the  parking area. After unloading their machines they set to see a breathtaking view from five-thousand feet above everything. The weather forecaster was correct with his prediction. George and Betty had hardly arrived they were engulfed in a total whiteout.


“Let’s get out of here,” George shouted into his CB microphone.


“Which way?”


“Follow me,” he replied, shutting off his engine in order to hear Betty’s. He heard her’s start and then the sound of her engine flared. Cupping his ears, he waiting and listened. Nothing.


“Where are you, Betty?” he shouted into the radio.


She didn’t respond. Anything could have happened, he thought to himself, as he got off his machine and began a systematic search on foot. In spite of finding nothing, he continued until the approaching darkness drove him back to the pickup where he spent the night. The snow had stopped by first light, so he resumed his grid search.


That evening he returned to his pickup and drove home alone, realizing what had happened to Betty.