MAY 2004




          The story begins back in November of 2003, when Jim phones me up and wants some tank sheds to put gas barrels in. This way they arenít stolen like in the summer of 2003 and Jim had to fly in fuel for his guests at a very high cost which cuts into the profit if there is a profit. So we agree on building him two tanks for his lodge and things are underway to have them ready for the Cat Train season in 2004. Plus while we are at, we will remove a TD-6 that Jim had the final drive break on him about 6 years and was force to abandon in the bush. So this should be a very good Cat Train trip with lots of interesting stories and it will be planned around weather because Xena will be with us.


            Jim and I discuss the dates numerous times over the phone and it is decided to run the last week in March 2004 to go freighting to his lodge when the weather is the best. But in the mean time Jim and his friend Jim (weíll call him Jim2) get bored and decide to fly up to Lynn Lake, Mb to see the King of Obsoleteís collection. What they are really interested in is all the collectibles that have come in from Ilford, Mb as part of the Kip collection. I wait for the sound of the small planes buzzing over town which we have not heard since the lakes froze over in the fall and the float planes quit flying to the fishing lodges. It was good to see two small planes on skis land on Eldon Lake in the dead of winter, something we donít see very often.  I picked the boys up in the 1964 Bel-air car (with the big back seat) and cruise main street of Lynn Lake, Mb as if it was 1969 with the AM radio playing the top hits and of course we waved at all the girls.


          Well we are ready to go freighting, the tanks sheds are mounted on sleighs and the stone boat for the TD-6 is ready too. I even order the lowbed semi to move us the 30 miles down the highway to Fox Mine for Saturday but God has other plans. We awake in the morning to a snow storm and this is a good thing as Martha would say, the snow falls all day and night. One could not have planned this better, now we donít need the semi to move the sleighs the 30 miles down the paved highway. The Linn Tractor will do it and plus we will do it right down the streets of Lynn Lake, Mb and it will be easy as pie. Of course when we go thru town, we must stop at the gas station for fuel and a picture, like they say a picture is worth a thousand words.



          As we head out of town, a lot of local people decide to follow along and when we stop to check things over. They ask us where we are going, when I reply Saskatchewan, their mouths drop, it is only 180 mile round trip. So what is the surprise, the old Cat Train boys used to do an 800 mile trip no problem and think nothing of it. How times have changed, we fly to Disney World in Florida for a week of fun and think nothing of it and that is 3000 miles to the south. The Linn Tractor pulled the sleighs up and down the hills on the snow covered highway to Fox Mine with ease because it was nothing compared to the 100 ton payloads it used to pull in the past. When we arrive at Fox Mine, buddy Mark is there to give us a ride back to town and of course he got a few pictures for his wife in Panama. (they have never seen crazy Canadians like us)



          Now lets go freighting, Jim and Jim2 phone on the satellite phone from the lodge and we decide to meet on a lake 45 miles from Lynn Lake, Mb. This is a little problem for me, because Double J are travelling over 50 miles in a Bombardier breaking trail in deep snow and if they donít show up Iím toast. Ok frozen toast, this part of the country Double J have been travelling since they were Xenaís age. So they know where all the bad ice is and the cabins for shelters because without this knowledge one is frozen toast or very wet toast. So after thinking it over while enjoying my cup of coffee, I phoned Bob, the trapper, and he comes by and shows me on the Topo map the route and location of cabins for safety. You know who your friends are in a time of needed, then off we go to met Double J where we said we would meet them.


          We switch the Linn Tractor for the Famous Black Cat because it was left out at Fox Mine when we finished the Eager Dam winter road. Xena riding on the stone boat with all the food and picnicking the whole time. We always buy fancy food when we go freighting and of course Xena must eat the really good stuff first. So we want to beat Double J to the meeting spot, so we put the hammer down, sounds funny when one is only travelling at top speed of 6 km per hour.


          To save time on unhooking and hooking up the sleighs, I decide to plow the portages pulling the 3 sleighs, which is very hard to do. But we must beat Double J, and on the last portage before the rendezvous spot , it happened. Around the corner came the Blue Bombardier owned by Jim2, what a picture perfect setting that was. So who is backing up, the Famous Black Cat with three sleighs or a Blue Bombardier, well the Black Cat never slowed down, because I  knew who was backing up. We stopped long enough for a picture because we only had another 140 miles to go.



         More to come in the next issue, sorry to keep you in suspense, but if you like you can see the lodges that each Jim owns, thanks




BOX 372