Alaska to Maine,
Ride of the Millennium
NOTE: 100% of all money raised by the pledges is going to either The Pine Tree Burn Foundation or the Pine Tree Camp for Handicapped Children. The donator can decide which charity he would like to donate to.
You can also visit our pledge page to get the latest updates as to the total amount of pledges so far!
LATEST & FINAL UPDATE AS OF FEBRUARY 14, 2000
MAPS (CLICK ON LINKS TO VIEW MAP):
(Day 28) Thursday, February 10, 2000
The temperature was -10ºF when we got up at 5:00 am here in Trois Rivieres, on the west side of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. We were up so early because the flat bed to transport our sleds over the bridge was due at 6:00 am. However, we noticed that one of us was VERY tired and had a VERY hard time waking up - almost like he had only gotten a couple of hours sleep. We then discovered that there were only TWO sleds in the parking lot! Did somebody steal one of our sleds!?! Luckily, we found the third sled at the other end of the bridge, which was actually 2 miles long, instead of the half-mile estimate we gave you in the last update. The sled was safe and sound under the entrance canopy of the Auberge Godefroy Hotel (Thanks, Jack!). Hmmm - how did it get there? And why were there two extra miles on the odometer? And why did one of us have a big grin on his very tired face? Oh well, by some miracle, this last minute major obstacle was overcome and we had at least one sled that traveled every inch of the way from Tok, Alaska to Caribou, Maine!
We were heading north on Trail #5 on the outskirts of Trois-Rivieres, when we stopped for breakfast at a little diner. After eating, we made our daily call to Channel X radio station, when Dennis Curley (owner of Channel X radio) informed us of the tragic single vehicle accident that claimed the life of Deana Bell last night. Deana was the wife of Dave Bell, Jr., the webmaster of this website and an integral member of our support team back home. The news of this tragedy put us into total shock and we spent the next half hour discussing what we should do to express the deep sorrow we felt. We finally decided to ride a little further, so we could each think individually about our options.
As we were coming into Ste-Croix, Mike O.’s sled had a minor problem, which was not AT ALL a fault with the machine, but our doing only, because we had changed the needle positions when we were riding in the warmer weather, but didn’t change them back when we got into the cold weather again. Of course, when we noticed the problem, we just happened to be about 1,000 feet from Les P’tits Moteurs (yep, another Polaris dealer!).
When we got to the dealership, we found the place closed for lunch, so we went to the restaurant next door for a light lunch. It was here that the three of us decided to ride as far as St. Pamphile in Quebec, store our sleds there, then get a ride home and finish the trip at a later date. We didn’t think it would be appropriate to finish the trip and have a big celebration when one of the team members was in mourning for his wife. When we called our wives to inform them of this decision, we learned that Dave and his mom, Denise, had already spoken to them and insisted that we finish the trip as planned. Mike M. then called Dave personally to extend our heartfelt condolences and to make sure that Dave knew we wouldn’t mind postponing the end of the trip. However, Dave made it abundantly clear to Mike M. that he wanted us to push on, so that is what we did, although with VERY heavy hearts. We also decided to dedicate the last two days of this wonderful adventure to the memory of the life of Deana Bell.
After lunch, Martin Denis (the owner of Les P’tits Moteurs) worked for a short time on Mike O.’s sled (Thanks, Martin!) and we made it to St. Pamphile by 8:00 pm. After 240 miles spent on GREAT TRAILS in Quebec, we checked into La Boise Motel for our last night of this fantastic journey!
(Day 29) Friday, February 11, 2000 (Home at Last!)
After a good night’s sleep in St. Pamphile, on the Quebec side of the border with Maine, we were up at 5:00 am and ready to hit the trail home by 6:00 am, but unfortunately, we couldn’t find a gas station open until 7:00 am. Also, ironically, on our very last day, and only when we got to the border of Maine, we were greeted with 6 inches of new snow and it was still coming down. This was the first time in 29 days of riding that we had to travel through ANY kind of storm - absolutely amazing! No matter, at this point we would have traveled through fresh snow ten FEET deep to get home. We went through Customs at about 7:30 am (U.S. Customs opened at 6:00 am), took a few pictures, and were finally riding on Aroostook County trails on United States ground (for the first time since we left Alaska 28 days ago). Goodbye (Au Revoir) Canada, words cannot express our feelings for your land and your people! We all plan to return with our wives for another trip across this beautiful country (only they said we have to go in the summer next time!).
After we crossed the border, the riding was GREAT for the first five miles, even through the 6 inches of new snow, and then we met a groomer operated by Cedric. He told us that he knew we were coming through, so he made a special run to pack down the snow that had fallen during the night. Thank you, Cedric - we really appreciated it! However, when we were about five miles from Dickey, the going got really slow, not due to the snow, but because we were going through a deer yard where we saw about 50 deer within a half mile and Mike O. had to stop to take pictures every fifty feet!
Just as we were pulling into Dickey Trading Post in Allagash, we met some GREAT friends of ours that had come all the way just to ride back to Caribou with us! We knew that we were essentially home when we saw the familiar faces of Harry McCarthy (Mike M.’s brother), Norm Plourde, Bub Anderson and Tom Clowes - Thanks, guys! After a quick cup of coffee and a few stories, we headed to Portage, where we were met by approximately thirty well-wishers (including Mike M.’s children, Ally and Chad!) and a WLBZ-TV News crew. After a quick gas stop in Portage and interviews with the WLBZ crew (our heads just barely fit in our helmets now!), we were on our way to Caribou, with at least ten additional sleds following us.
We finally made it to the “Welcome to Caribou” sign on Route 161 at about 3:00 pm and found another twenty or so sleds waiting for us there (including Kirk’s youngest daughters, Jessica and Amy!). From here, we were escorted down the road by two flashing and blaring fire trucks and police cruisers, while we proudly displayed the Alaska state flag from a pole attached to Mike O.’s sled. Time for one (last?) trivia question - the flag on the back of Mike O.’s sled was blue with the seven stars that form the big dipper on it. An eighth star, lined up with the “cup” of the dipper (in the upper right corner of the flag) represents, of course, the North Star. What is the official name of the North Star? (Hint, TGIP!)
Our little “parade” continued past County Sports, where people actually threw carnations at us (and Kirk stopped to kiss his wife and hug his Mom) and we were greeted by hundreds of people lining the side of the road (including the teary-eyed daughters of Mike O., Neali and Haley!). We took a very noisy “tool through town” as the teenagers would say and what a GREAT welcome home! Thanks to all who took the time to come out in the middle of a snow storm and welcome us back! (You know, those Guardian Angels who followed us on this trip even took the extra time to make snow fall on the roads in Caribou on the day of our return, so we could ride our sleds through town.)
After 5,977 miles (the average of all three sleds) and 29 straight days of riding from the beginning of our trip at Tok, Alaska, we stopped at our final destination - County Sports, Caribou’s Polaris dealer. (Hey, Myron, in all the exitement, we forgot to get a sticker for our windshields!) After an extremely emotional reunion with our families and friends, we read a letter of greeting from Tony Knowles, the Governor of Alaska, and presented the Alaska flag to Myron Hale, the owner of County Sports. Before heading to our own homes, we went inside for coffee and a piece of excellent cake (donated by Alice’s Bakery at Ouellette’s Variety), and John Begin of Pine Tree Camp presented us with sweatshirts and beautiful plaques in appreciation of our fund-raising efforts. Cary Medical Center also gave us wonderful “welcome home” baskets - Thanks, Cary!
(Day 30) Saturday, February 12, 2000 (Family Time, Then Party Time!)
After a nice relaxing day in our own homes with our families (where our wives bravely did our laundry for us, while we all shaved off our “rugged-looking”, or was that “ragged-looking” beards), we attended a SUPER “Welcome Home Celebration & Dance” sponsored by the Caribou Snowmobile Club at Hillcrest Resort. What a tremendous party! With 350 people in attendance, we heard that the tickets pretty much sold out several days in advance. (Didn’t know we had THAT many relatives!)
The cake made at Shop ’n Save had edible pictures of us on our trip (weird!) and the buffet put on by the folks at Hillcrest was delicious. (You have to go there to eat, as my family and I did on Sunday - excellent food and service!) The program had just GREAT M.C.s - Thanks, Kathy M. and Mr. C. And we received all kinds of presents - Ken Desmond and Tom Malcolm of the Pine Tree Burn Foundation gave us all tee shirts and recognized Mike M. for his generous ride for charity with a plaque. Then Reta Ricker gave us each an autographed photo of Ricky Craven that Steve Doody took the time to get for us. Steve and Ginnie Gagnon presented us all with nicely-framed copies of the poem they wrote and they gave Kathy and Mike O. a framed copy of the touching Bangor Daily News photo of them reunited at County Sports. Jim and Doris McBreairty gave us all gift certificates to the Caribou Inn and Convention Center.
Lastly, we each got to speak and we gave out “gag” gifts to the members of our support team. The “Sourtoe” iced-tea drink was fun and “different” - Thanks to Mark Baker for providing the “toes” and to Bonnie Akerson for providing the “cocktail”. The music was great to dance to - Thanks, Jack Matisko, and last but certainly not least, the company was FANTASTIC - Thanks, everyone! What a great way to end our journey! Signing off for the last time (maybe), MKM.
P.S. A personal note to those of you who asked us to post some pictures of our trip on this web site. As soon as some of the film is developed, we plan to do just that, so keep checking this page.