Ashland, WI (Northland's NewCenter) - In Duluth—other than the latest cold snap that's left the Northland running for their mittens—it's still hard to believe that winter is actually here.
In Ashland, Wisconsin, however, residents are running for their shovels, and their favorite winter toys.
Dan Petras—with the snowmobile racing team "Darkside Racing"—was out with teammates on Chequamegon bay earlier Friday, enjoying the fresh powder.
"Just doing a little testing and tuning today," said Petras.
Petras and crew said they were gearing up for the upcoming "King of the Bay" Race—scheduled for February 10th through the 11th.
Petras admitted that—until the recent snowstorm that started Thursday evening and brought over 30 inches to Wisconsin's South Shore—he had his concerns about the race.
"I think there will be enough snow and ice. I think it's getting better, it's around the corner," said Petras, hopefully.
According to Petras, until recently, most snowmobile enthusiasts have been traveling east this winter, toward Michigan's Upper Peninsula—a move that Ashland Mayor Bill Whalen says he can't blame them for.
"They're going to follow the snow," said Whalen, laughing. "Fortunately, we're not too far into the season where we can't gather that back again."
Whalen admits that the Ashland's winter tourism has suffered significantly from a so–far lackluster season, but says the 30 plus inches that Wisconsin's South Shore has received since Thursday has already got the hotel phones ringing.
"The hotels are starting to fill up now because the snow is in," said Whalen.
For those in the Northland hoping to get in on a white winter before it's too late, Whalen added a word of advice.
"Make your reservations, because when the snow came, the peple started calling the hotels, and people are anxious to use their equipment. Come on up and see us!"
Making the best of the later winter, which—for Wisconsin—is better late than never.