Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Well, the party was a success. We had about 20 or 25 people filter in and out through the course of the Eve. A nice big bonfire, good food and lots (too much) to drink. The dogs pretty much entertained the kids that came, starting with lil' Owen who I took on his first dog-sled ride. I hooked up Capiche to my little sled and she pulled Owen, who was on the runners, down the driveway and back. Congratulations, Owen for mushing like a pro and not falling off. Look out Lance Mackey!
The rest of the kids wandered through the yard passing out treats to my dogs and we eventually let them loose two at a time to run around. Like all our parties, the crowd was a good mix of mushers, media-types and other random souls. The Mackey-clan even made an appearance and I was able to talk dogs with Lance for a bit.
Later in the night a Christmas villain arrived and tried to steal Christmas. You may not know of El Bobcho Libre, but he is a fierce nemesis of Christmas (see pics below).
Christmas Day, Sam and I woke up late, ate waffles, opened gifts (thank you very much Mum and Dad, we loved everything.) and then realized the turkey was still frozen solid. We scrapped the turkey-dinner plan, hooked up two teams and took off mushing for the afternoon. Sam was awesome on the back of the sled considering the bumpy, windy trails.
We came home, ate leftovers from the party and fell asleep full and tired.
I hope you all had a great day.
Peace.Roy started out being a well-mannered, sweet Christmas puppy.
That soon went to shit and he turned into a little brat. His new favourite game is ripping stuff off the fridge and shredding it. He stays away from the tree after he chewed on the lights and electrocuted himself.
Later in the evening.
My homemade truffles.
First the villain beat up Santa.
Then he stole our booze.
Mark to the rescue!
After a long night and day, the couch dogs were pooped. Roy fell asleep with his new favourite toy: a stuffed, squeaky mailman that my parents sent.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I ran the dogs in Two Rivers yesterday and it was great. My dogs are getting stronger and learning to work together really, really well. When they're all pulling in sync, you can feel the energy come up through the dogs and into the handlebar. It always makes me smile.
Gal pal and my sort-of boss Julie showed me the wolf tracks through her yard and then she hopped on her snowmachine and gave me a guided tour of the trails. She and her hubby Rod have been mushing for some time and I appreciated her help. Two Rivers is notorious for being a confusing web of trails though the 20-mile loop I did yesterday was mostly on a logging road and fire break, so it wasn't bad. Nice big hills and great scenery. The dogs got a good workout and we all got to see some new country. My 100-mile race has been canceled due to marginal trail conditions and thin ice. My next race goal is the Tustumena 200 in January. If the dogs aren't ready for 200, there's 100-mile version we can try.
Today we're braving the crowds to do some last-minute shopping and then cutting wood for the rest of the day.
Peace.Bully and Capiche, the best lead dogs ever! The pups, Sneaky Pete and Parker behind them, then Sister and Happy, then Sally and Hitchcock and Strider and Hazel in wheel. Ten dogs with my little sled and 40 pounds of weight was a good amount of power and weight. I could set a hook and steer on the downhills pretty easily. The only time I broke a sweat was a bumpy downhill with corner at the bottom, but we did it and I stayed on the sled despite the dogs' best efforts to buck me off. Photo by Julie Stricker.
Here we are coming up a big hill. The vistas were great on this trail. Photo by Julie Stricker.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Today, I am smiling. Grinning like an idiot. For today, my friends, is winter solstice, the longest night. But starting tomorrow (or within the next week anyway) we'll start to get our light back. Precious light.
But that's not all. Yesterday morning I stepped outside and the thermometer said 41 below. Today?
Six below! It's downright balmy out there!
Anyway, we're heading to Cripple Creek for a solstice bonfire tonight but before that I will run the dogs out in Two Rivers....
despite all the wolf trouble out there recently. If you don't hear from me by Christmas, send help.
SUNRISE AND SUNSET
DECEMBER 21 2007..........SUNRISE 1059 AM AST SUNSET 241 PM AST
DECEMBER 22 2007..........SUNRISE 1059 AM AST SUNSET 242 PM AST
AMOUNT OF DAYLIGHT TODAY (HOUR:MIN)........3:42
LOSS SINCE YESTERDAY........................1 MINUTE
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I've decided on a Christmas-Eve-party menu...ahem...meatballs, baked brie with cranberry chutney, tomato-feta kabobs, salmon dip, shortbread-jam thumbprint cookies, fudge, orzo salad with black beans and a spicy cilantro dressing, and mini quiches. Hooray! That reminds me, whoever is in Fairbanks and reads the blog, stop by for some good eats and spiced (spiked) cider. Email email@example.com for directions to the cabin. We'll have a rippin' bonfire, dog sled rides for the kids (until I start drinking) and, for the brave, sauna!
Here are photos of Roy that I made more fun with my Photoshop prowess. Yeah, I was a little bored today...come on, it's almost 40 below!
Because I think it's funny.
Yes, he was really chewing on a wooden candy cane and no, his eye is not supposed to be that big.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sick on the way there, wind blowing my sled off the highway, 30 miles, camping, cold, windy, 15 more miles, sick on the way home, Sunday night in the outhouse at 20 below having issues at both ends, don't eat egg salad from a gas station in Healy.
Well, I'm just now recovering from my bout with food poisoning. Um, I won't get into the gory details, but Sunday night was one of my top three worst nights of my life. Thank Jebus we were home at least, although I did force Sam to make a few unscheduled stops between Nenana and home. Ok, enough poop talk.
We got to Cantwell late Saturday morning and while Sam and Mark set up camp, I hooked up the dogs and took off. We did 31 miles in three hours and 20 minutes and they handled it really well. Oh, I should mention that when I said I did back-to-back 30s earlier in the week, I was wrong. This time I brought my GPS and realized my previous 30-milers were actually only about 23. So this time I actually did 30. As the sun went down it got really cold and the wind picked up. The gusts were so strong my sled was getting blown all over the place. The dogs put their heads down and pushed through the wind like champs. Back at camp, I laid out straw, fed them, massaged sore muscles and feet, and bedded them down before retreating to the heated tent for salmon and rice that Sam made for us. The next day I decided to do a faster, 15-mile run sans Parker who was still a little sore. I let Mark, who has lived in Alaska all of his 45 years and never been on a dog sled, drive the team for a few miles. Then it was Sam's turn and then I hopped out of the basket and onto the runners for the remainder of the run. After, we hung around by the fire, ate lunch and then took off for home around dark (3:30 p.m.). It's still cold, about 25 below F, but I'll take the dogs out today for shorter, faster run. We took all the dogs to Cantwell including the oldie (Ruffles), the fatty (Gus) and the puppy (Roy). Roy just ran around bothered everyone, Gus was pretty chill and Ruffles spent most of her time huddled in the cab of the truck trying to stay warm. I put a fleece dog coat on her and we eventually let her in the tent to warm up. The trail was good but pretty hard packed from all the snowmachine traffic, so it was a little hard on joints. The weather was good except for the wind and there wasn't too much traffic on the trails. A couple other dog teams and a few snowmachiners and that's it.
I got bad news about lil' Roy. My vet said because he was so malnourished at such a young age that his joints are deformed and he'll never run in harness for more than a few miles. Looks like we have another couch dog.
Here's Mark driving the team with me in the basket.
Roy running circles around the team as I'm trying to hook them up.
Me and the team and the mountains.
I never get tired of mushing through the mountains.
Me again with the team.
Me on the second day.
Sam on the runners and me in the sled. Brrr.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I left early on the second morning to run the dark. I like running at night but I do getting a scared sometimes...don't tell anyone.
Ok, that blur is me dancing around the fire. I set up the camera on my dog food cooker and opened the shutter, ran to the fire and danced around. Tamara thought (thinks) I'm nuts.
Running like champs. I passed Ramey Smith and he said later at camp that my team looked good. I take that as a huge compliment.
I am the fire starter.
To the untrained eye, this might just look like a blurry photo. We in the biz call this motion blur. Ok, so it's a blurry picture, but I really like it because you see the truck, dogs, mountains, trees and those red squiggles are Tamara leaders which have red lights on their collars to warn snowmachiners. The white squiggle is Tamara's headlamp. I pretty much leave my headlamp on all the time, as it's only light for three hours.
Caribou on the trail.
Tamara lighting her cooker. She used 15 bottles of Heet (fuel) to my four.
Driving out Wednesday, the sun came out for a brief time.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I went to the Denali Highway to run the dogs and it was amazing, but that's a post for tomorrow. Here are some photos of my new nephew taken by my dad...Jaden's GRANDPA!!! Hahahaha!! My dad is a grandpa. Gramps. Pappy. Weird. Of course, my mum is a granny, but she's not as fun to tease as my dad. Plus, she has freakish upper body strength and punches really hard.
Monday, December 10, 2007
This weekend we also made our holiday photo card. We put all the dogs in the pen and strapped the camera to the top of the pen. The results were pretty funny. If you want a Christmas card and haven't received one from us in the past, please email your address to firstname.lastname@example.org. They're really funny.
Here are some photos of holiday fun around the cabin.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
OK, back to this tag thing. I guess I'll list seven random things about me first. Karen, I hope you still read me after this. (My name is Jill, by the way. Jillian Rogers. Pleased to meet you.)
Here we go.
1) I hate balloons. It's a phobia really. Hate them. The smell, the sound, the inevitable pop...hate them. Mylar balloons I can handle, but I'd rather just have cake.
2) I hate frogs and toads. I'm glad I live in Alaska where they are more rare. I just got a chill thinking about the tree frogs stuck to the back door of my childhood home. And the toads that would sit on the front step waiting for me to come home at night. They'd flash their knives and I'd give them my money. Stupid toad gangs. I can shoot a gun, stitch up a wounded dog, clean up doggie diarrhea, spend days outside a 40 below, but put a frog (or balloon) in front of me and I screech like a howler monkey.
3) I'm a compulsive paper roller-upper. I tear off tiny pieces of paper (the corners of my notepad, books, whatever's in front of me) and roll them between my fingertips into tiny tubes which litter the floor and counter around my workspace. The tiny tubes clog up the keyboard and this habit used to drive people crazy at the newspaper where I worked in Whitehorse. And now it drives Sam crazy.
4) I had OCD as a kid, but in my adulthood have done a complete 180. Sam calls me Messy Bessy for good reason.
5) I pick up frozen dog poo with my gloved hand. It's faster and it doesn't smell.
6) I have loved Elvis since my babysitter would set up the record player at the front window and blare Jailhouse Rock to us kids on the lawn who would dance until we couldn't catch out breath.
7) I love, love, love dill pickles and sour cream together.
So, I'm tagging Dave, Stacey, Phoebe, Jeremy, Brian, Sue and Kelly!
So, um, I guess now they write seven weird things about themselves...? Yeah, that's it.
My sister is labour!!! I'm going to be an auntie! She was in the hospital yesterday but they sent her home until she is a little more, um, gaping. If she has the bambino in the next week, the baby will be premature and will have to stay in the hospital. She's really uncomfortable and a little freaked out, but otherwise good. Hang in there, Dana. We love you!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
This weekend is holiday mania around the cabin. We're choppin' a tree, decorating, taking our Christmas-card photo, crafting, baking and mailing. Whoopee!
So, last weekend Sam went a-huntin' with his pal Mark and...wait for it...they a got a caribou! Even though our freezer is full of salmon, I crave red meat that's not injected with hormones and other yuckies. We've ground it all up into burger with the bones and scraps cut and frozen for the dogs. Meat for everyone! It's getting cold here, about minus 25 C but still no snow. We need snow!!! Races are already being postponed and I fear I won't be competing until January. My first race (a little 20 miler) is next weekend but will be put off if we don't get a dump. Of snow.
Roy is good and growing every day. Today while we were at work, Roy ripped an 8x10 photo of Denali I had taken a couple years ago and chewed it up into tiny pieces. Anyone want a puppy? At least he's a hard-ass editor.
"You call dis art? Dis is crap. I chew it up and spit it out!"
Yes, in my head Roy has a French accent.
Anyway, here are photos of the caribou and me on the porch. Beware, they are a little graphic...the carcass, not me.
Peace and snow
Roy! Shut up!
Mark atop Eagle Summit with the fresh kill.
Sam grindin' up the meat. It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it...somebody that's not me...
Run away! I can't! Sick? Yes, I am.
Uh, yeah. Enough said.
Our packages of meat and bones for the dogs.