Monday, February 26, 2007

Pizza in Circle...

Whew! Sorry about the delay. I covered the second half of the Yukon Quest and got caught up in all the drama, whoopla etc.
So. Starting last Monday (a week ago today) I did two live radio hits per day with the CBC in Whitehorse. I have covered the race for several years, so getting the info and doing the interviews was cake, but going on live radio to a place where I used to live but kind of ran away from, was very, VERY intimidating. The first two 'hits' didn't go so well. I was so nervous about stuttering or making a mistake that I read my script verbatim and ended up sounding like a robot. But as the days went on, I loosened up and actually began to enjoy it. I realized though, that while I may have a face for radio, I'll stick to print journalism.
Traveling along the Quest trail, though slightly hectic this year because the leaders were moving at a record pace, is always fun, especially with my friend Libby. She works for the public radio station here ( and we always have lots of 'I was so tired that I..." tales from the trail. Libby and I have been on the trail seven times each, six of those together. And it seems whenever we get together we can talk for hours about 'the time that French handler said this,' or when 'the musher showed me that in the bathroom'... I’m kidding.
The only thing missing this year was dear Trisha. Trisha covered the Quest for CBC for two years and could always be counted on for some raucous fun. Whether it was pulling the clerk over the counter by the scruff at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, or just enjoying some meat sticks that were always nice and warm from having been in her pocket for days, Trish is always nice to have around on the trail.
Anyway, now I have the arduous task of writing a 2,000-word article for Mushing Magazine about the entire race. Ten days in 2,000 words and it's due tomorrow. So, for the next 12 or 14 hours, I'll be sitting here, in the kitchen with my laptop and a pot of coffee wearing ratty long johns and a John Deere T-shirt. Ok. Time to focus. Wait. The dogs are barking, I better do see what they’re up to…
Oh yeah! Lance Mackey won and broke the 12-year-old record by nearly 14 hours.
Here are some pics from the trail, mostly so Trish over in Africa can get a little fix.

Above, Libby, right, and Julie hanging out at the finish line. People kept getting them confused on the trail.

John Schandelmeier in Circle putting booties on his dogs.

Michelle Phillips at the finish line giving her dogs a snack.

Sebastian Schnuelle crossing the finish line in eighth spot.

A fan pets Aaron Burmeister's dogs at the finish line.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bright lights, big city

Well, I arrived in Circle City unscathed. The Quest is actually more than half over and moving FAST. Lance Mackey is on pace to shatter the record of 10 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes. Tomorrow morning I have my first live hit with CBC. I was thinking that it would be funny, since it's live, to launch into my report and then say 'oh wait, can we start over?' Libby advised me not to do it. It's been so fun reunited with all my little Quest friends. I love covering the race. Right now Libby and I have hijacked the principal's office at the Circle school and are typing away. She's been really helpful with my radio voice. We've been giggling none stop. Where's Trisha and her pocket full of meat sticks and chocolate? Oh, the Quest. Love it. I had some great interviews as soon as I got here and am now taking a break from transcibing. It's 45 below. Hans Gatt is trying to make a move but unless Mackey goes over a cliff or something, he's got a six hour lead and will win for the third year in a row. He's on course to break the record by 20 hours. crazy. I'm going to dare John to chug a quart of half 'n' half for five bucks.
Here are a couple pics from the Circle checkpoint. The frosty chick is William Kleedehn's handler Miriam (standing around outside at 40 below does this to your face) and the dog is Gerry Willomitzer's named Joseph eating some salmon. Peace

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I saw her on a beach of weathered sand

Today I took Becky and her mum, who is visiting from Michigan, on a dog sled ride. Fun was had by all and the dogs did really well. I wasn't sure how they'd react coming into the finish and then getting turned around and going out again with a different passenger, but they were all eager to go out a second time. Sam and I have boycotted Valentine's Day. It's a stupid made-up holiday for suckers. No offense to those who celebrate it. I hope all your flowery, chocolate, heart-shaped dreams come true.
Here's a pic that Sam took of Bully, the fearless leader, eager to get on the trail. The dogs jump and lunge while waiting to take off. He may like the couch, that Bull, but he's no potato. That's me getting ready at the sled and Becky in the sled.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Me so black

Ok. The Quest has started and is actually nearly half over. With hard and fast trails, the teams are moving along at a record-setting pace. Read more at
I will join the race on Sunday in Circle and cover it until the finish in Fairbanks a few days later. I really want to be out on the trail now.
Tomorrow I'm taking friend Becky and her mom who is visiting from Outside for a little dog sled ride. Should be fun. Entertaining to say the very least.
Sam and I took a swing dance lesson last week. Just one. Neither of us are very good. Sam was a little slow and I just wanted to bop along to the music without all the stupid steps. The whole thing was actually a little creepy. I think it was a singles hangout for middle-aged divorced folk.
What else? There was something else. My friend Sami who I worked with in Finland was doing the Quest 300 but was disqualified after bringing in two injured dogs on top of his sled instead of in the sled. It was dangerous and stupid and it cost him the race.
Sam and I met some friends at the folk festival on Saturday. Our friend Steve was playing. It was nice. They had beer so at least I didn't have to lose my buzz, which is more than I can say for the swing dancing.
Dogs are good. Weather's good. Sam and I are great.
Hope everyone out there is good. Good luck with the booty hunt!
Peace out.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

My doppelganger is nobody's business!

So said Meg when I told her that her doppelganger was Dr. Phil.
Here are some musings from the past 24 hours:
Do they make adult diapers for dogs?
I guess it Depends...
Ruffles had a little 'accident' in the kitchen last night. I'm not sure if it's because she's old or if she's mad because I've been shoving pills down her gullet three times a day.
I hit the Alaska Coffee Roasters Co. two days ago. I don't mean 'I hit the coffee shop for a latte.' I mean I HIT THE COFFEE SHOP. The building. I hit the building with my truck. Needless to say it was slippery. No damage to building or vehicle.
I helped Ken with his Iditarod drop bags (bags that are sent out to the checkpoints containing food and supplies for the dogs and the mushers) by folding up 1,600 dog booties. It only took a few hours. I did it while I watched the first four episodes of Lost. Does anybody watch that show? I never got into it because we don't really have TV so I rented it on DVD. Anyway, what the hell is in the woods? A dinosaur? What is it? Wait. No, I don't want to know. Don't tell me. Ok. What is it? What's up with the polar bear. What did that girl do that was so bad?
Forget it.
I'm looking forward to the Quest, though I wish now that I had made arrangements to cover it from the start. This will be the first year in six that I haven't been at the start of the race. I hate not being on the trail.
Got an email from dear friend Trisha in Ghana. Things are going well for her and Graeme there. Oh. Except that Graeme may have accidentally given Trisha to a village chief as an offering. Oops. Check out their blog at
That's it for now. Dogs are good. Sam's good. I'm good. Frosty stinks.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Make a point to make no sense

So. Quest preparations with the CBC are underway. I've got the numbers to call and a general idea of what they're looking for. I'll be on the radio at 7:15 a.m. and 4:50 p.m. Yukon time. (That's an hour earlier for me here in Alaska...gulp) I've been practicing my sultry radio voice. I tested it out on one of the producers today and he laughed...not sure if that's good or bad.
What else? I got a gig writing pre-Iditarod stories for the Anchorage Daily News. Very cool. And I'm working on a book review for Mushing Magazine. I've already read the book because, well, I've read just about everything that has to do with dog mushing. This is one of those 'I-started-with-nothing-and-finished-the-Iditarod' books, which are getting very tired, but this one was a bit different in that the woman who did it was absolutely terrified and fell off all the time (sound familiar?) and she finished it anyway. So it was a little inspiring for me. That's why I liked it.
Ruffles is hangin' in there. I had the dogs loose yesterday and Parker and Ruffles were fine together. Gwen suggested I tie the pups out instead of having them loose in a pen because they're getting a little wild but they play constantly and I really don't want them on chains. I removed the old-lady factory (Ruffles) so now they have no one to beat up but each other. Raven and Strider are also in the pen, but they won't tolerate much in the way of abuse from the pups. Eventually I want all my dogs in one giant enclosure, but that might get a little out of hand as Hazel tends to be a bit of a troublemaker.
It's warm here, still about minus 15 C in the mornings and hovering around five below in the afternoons. It's good weather for me to run dogs but still a little too warm for the dogs' liking. And yet we manage to trudge on.
Sam volunteered us to baby-sit a friend's toy poodle for a couple weeks so Frosty is now in the mix. He's weird and ugly and he stinks (Frosty, not Sam). He mostly sits in the corner and stares with his little bug eyes (Again, Frosty, not Sam). When he's not in the corner, he's just trying not to get stepped on. Ruffles has sat on him twice and Bull, well, Bull bulled right over him a couple nights ago. He's coping though. Sam took him to work today, because I don't have much patience for his incessant whining (Frosty's, not Sam's).
Ok, I think that's all. We're going for a run.
Oh yeah, check out my aurora photo won top feature photo for the month of January in Alaska.
Here's a snapshot of Ruffles, Bull and Frosty chillin'...pun intended.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Ruffles Report

Good afternoon. As we reported yesterday Ruffles was savagely attacked by the always adorable, but slightly bitchy, Parker. After 90 minutes on the operating table and many, many stitches, 13-year-old Ruffles, or Scuffy as she's known by her family, is recovering well. As of press time, Ruffles was hopped up on pain pills that left her a little shaky but feeling blissfully pain free. Though she has yet to eat a solid meal, she has gotten into the garbage once. What she was after is still under investigation.

Pool old bird. Ruffles, who is going deaf and blind and is very stiff because, well, she's in the winter of her life, is being a real trooper. I had to put a booty over her paw to stop her from scratching at her wound. Her face is swollen and all stitched up...she looks like Ruf-enstein. RUN! AHHHHH! So Ruffles is our latest house dog. The only problem is, she won't let Bull on the couch. Sigh. The saga continues.

Hi Gran! Hazel is always naughty but that's why I love her. That, and she's so darn cute. Ok. We're going for a run.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Me against the world

Well, well, well. You know, I've freelanced for a few years now, but never for a wire service, so seeing my work all over the place on the internet and in print is pretty damn cool. CNN and MSNBC picked up the story on the Japanese tourists and used my aurora photo. It was also in the Anchorage Daily News and on the front page of the News-Miner today. Sweet. Life is good. Well, maybe not for Ruffles. Parker attacked Ruffles today when I had the dogs loose before heading out for a run. I heard the scuffle in the woods and by the time I got there, Ruffles (who's at least 13)was on her back with her face ripped open. I quickly put the dogs away and brought Ruffles inside to survey the damage. I cleaned the wound and got out the tools to stitch her up, but it was half her face and really close to her eye so at the last minute I opted to call my vet. I brought Ruffles over and she was knocked out, sewn up and wobbling around in the matter of one hour. I got scolded for attempting to sew her up myself. What? I've seen worse, I told the vet. She wasn't impressed. Lesson learned. Not sure what I'm going to do with Parker. She's getting agressive with mama Ruffles more and more. I think I might have Ruffles as an inside/loose dog from now on.
So I didn't run the dogs today because of the trip to ER, but tomorrow. Oh yeah, Ken wanted to run the yearlings that I've been training just to see how they're shaping up. He liked them so much, he took them back so he can race them. Now I only have three of his (I had 12) and five (running dogs) of my own. So I still have an eight-dog team but I need 10 for that race in March and he said he might want those last three back too. I kind of thought this might happen. So, I spoke with Quest musher Greg Parvin today (he was at the vet, too) and he said he a few dogs that didn't make his Quest team but are very runnable that I could use until March. They're village dogs, so they huge, but that's ok. I just want dogs to run. And dogs that I can give back when the snow's gone? Even better.
Ruffles just fell off the couch...she's still a little out of it. Gotta go!