Publisher’s Letter: “Toys” Help!

By Blaine Howerton, Publisher
North Forty News

Like so many Americans, I never dreamt of the challenges my family would face in 2020. And, boy, am I glad it’s over! I tell my friends that 2021 will be a year of new beginnings because I wholeheartedly believe it.

The vaccine is on its way and with a new administration, we may even have a national plan to distribute it. Personally, I made it through the most challenging year of my life — to date, at least. So, I figured, why not celebrate with a Christmas gift for myself!

I have always wanted an ATV. Even as a little kid, I remember watching friends get on their “3 wheelers.” I wanted one — Bad. Back then, they didn’t have 4 wheel drive. A 4-wheeler wasn’t the norm. Today, they seem to be everywhere complete with every accessory.

For the past 4 years, it’s been a challenge getting up to my mountain property in the winter. And every time my truck gets stuck in the snow (even with chains on the tires) I can’t help but think how useful an ATV would be. So, I figured this year, with everything my family has gone through (including a bout with Covid) and the coming snow — it was time. Enter my 1997 Polaris Xplorer ATV.

Photo by Blaine Howerton; Our 1997 Xplorer ATV

It’s a 20-year-old, well-maintained machine and I got a great deal on it. And, it’s just old enough to get my feet wet with maintenance and future repairs. I don’t mind buying used. In fact, I prefer it. You save thousands and you just don’t have to deal with the worry or frustration of scratches and dents if you mess up. And I’m handy so I enjoy “engineering” my vehicles back to being fully operational.

The day I bought my Xplorer (the name suits me well), I was instantly catapulted into all the extras I needed — a trailer, a hitch ball, a wiring harness, tie-downs, and so on. I found I spent more on those than I did on the ATV! But oh well, you only live once. I now have an Amazon list just for the Xplorer.

When I pulled up to the house with ATV in tow, my young boys were elated! They couldn’t wait to hop on the back and take it for a spin. “Not so fast,” I said. “You need helmets!” We were desperate, so out came the ski helmets. “ATV Helmets would be perfect Christmas presents,” I thought. And with a thoughtful contribution from their Grandparents, I soon made that happen.

Some might say I make every excuse to validate a purchase — I admit, I do. But in this case, my sons have been deprived of in-person school and socialization for almost a year now. So, why not have a little fun?! Over the summer, together, we built a small writing studio. Now, it’s time to enjoy it — all year round — because, now, we can get to it!

Every night for a week we took the Xplorer for a spin. Then, we took it up to our mountain property. With the exception of a little coolant leak (which I can fix), it performed perfectly. To my sons’ delight, Bald Eagles circled as we took it slow and easy up the massive hills and gave it a try on patches of snow. I couldn’t help but think of all the projects I could use it for and all of the fun we were going to have. Now, it’s time to buy a winch.

And, when I get Revela (the vintage RV I bought this summer) back up on the mountain, it will be even more fun! The possibilities for adventure are endless and my little boys are nothing less than ecstatic!

So, here’s to new beginnings! 2021 is here and it’s going to be AWESOME!

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