When we moved to Alaska, it was meant as a vacation that extended into a one year stay. That in turn became a permanent stay and we built a house near Circle Hot Springs.
Shane, my oldest brother, had a three wheeler, you know, those death machines. Being a teenager, it was his pride and joy and his freedom. He had very particular rules about it such as: Don’t ask to ride it. Don’t sit on it. And don’t look at it.
One day, I broke all three rules. This turned into my brother trying to intimidate me and a lot of whining on my part. And believe me, my eight year old self could whine with the best of them.
My mother told Shane to let me take it for a ride around the yard, which was fairly big. I don’t think this was really because she felt I should, after all, it belonged to Shane, but it was more to get me to stop whining.
This of course backfired as Shane started whining so now she had two of going. We had an understanding that personal belongings were out of control of our parents unless we misused them or were grounded. So this made Shane’s three wheeler out of bounds.
Shane finally relented and said I could ride it if I could start it. I sprang up from the table and bolted out the door.
This was an old style three wheeler without a fancy electric start and the only way to get it going was using the pull start or the kick start. Both were extremely difficult as you had to have the weight and strength to get the kick start to work and the pull start required a long reach that I did not have. So Shane felt pretty safe.
Only he didn’t know that I had watched my dad show my mom how to start the small generator with a trick. It too required a long pull, but if you pulled out about half the rope, the turns were smaller and you could get more force with a shorter pull.
I set the choke to half and pulled the cord out about half way, wrapped it around my hand and yanked. The engine sputtered, but didn’t fire. This did however get Shane’s attention as he bolted out the front door to stop me.
I yanked again and this time the three wheeler sprang to life and I was off like a rocket, Shane running in my wake yelling for me to start. He yelled for me to stop and I took off down the trail next to the house and didn’t dare look back.
I flew down the trail, the wind flying through my hair and I laughed. I rarely got to drive it and I was excited to have actually started it on my own.
The trail ended in about 3/4 of a mile and I went to turn around, but there was still snow on the ground here making it difficult. I gunned the gas in an attempt to spin it around, but instead of spinning, the engine died.
I tried to start it, but it smelled of gas and I realized that the choke was still on half. I’d flooded the engine and it was going to be a few minutes before it could start.
I sat there and expected Shane to come down the trail at any moment, but he never did. I tried again after a couple of minutes, but it still didn’t start, so I waited a little longer.
After about 5 minutes, it started up and I made sure the choke was off and drove back home a little more slowly, enjoying the ride. I coasted into the yard and parked the three wheeler as Shane came running back out.
Normally his glare would have sent me running, but I was grinning from ear to ear. I slid off the seat and walked past him to the house. He removed the key and stomped after me.
When he caught up, he held the key out in front of me and said, “Never again.”
I kept on walking, my grin growing. When dad got home, I was going to have to ask him about what he would do if he lost the key to the snow machine…