Wednesday, December 31, 2008

You most definitely can not push a rope

Updated 4:30 p.m.:

John and Zoya decided that because this year's race was so hard and the fact I finished, they would list me as an official finisher. Even though I came in last, I finished strong with more confedince in myself and my dogs than I ever thought possible. And I will get a shiny red lantern for myself.

Hi all,

Just a quick note to say that I finished the Gin Gin Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Officially, on the website, I'm marked down as a scratch, but I finished the 200 mile course. The officials decided I had to scratch because I had used someone else's dog food at the checkpoint as I stayed there a long time to let the dogs rest. They felt that qualifies as outside assistance which is against the rules. So, this will not be marked down as an official finish, nor will it count as a qualifier for the Quest. BUT, I feel totally qualified anyway, because as I'm sure you all read on the website, the winds on 13-mile summit were gale force and I was out in 45 below cold for 24 hours. This was by far the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I've never been so scared, so cold, so tired, so emotional or so determined in my whole life. The dogs came through like champs with only a few minor sore points and a little frostbite. We made it, whether the officials want to acknowledge it or not. We fucking made it. And it has changed me. I know now that I can do anything, ANYTHING, I set my mind to no matter how fucked up things get. I have a lot of people to thank. Thanks to my sponsors for helping me get to the start line. Thank you to Dan and Jodi for your kindness, friendship and support. Thanks to Tamra for helping me get to the start chute and to Hugh and Juho for making me smile on the trail. Thanks to Iris Sutton for helping me off the side of the mountain. Thanks to an anonymous musher for letting me follow his team out of the wind. Thanks to Ed, Alan and Susie at Maclaren Lodge for your kindness and hospitality, for which I never would have made it out. Thanks to Jenny and Audie at Denali Highway Cabins for keeping Sam company and helping out. Thanks to Sebastian for sending his handler out to make sure I was not dead. Thanks to the new and oh, so improved Paxson Lodge for your kindness and hospitality. Darren Lee, you saved me, thank you.
Um, I'm sure I'm forgetting some people but to all who even just gave me a smile or asked how I was doing, Lance, Judy, Tamara, Aliy...thank you. Thanks Ken, for giving me a big thumbs up after the wind storm and for telling me to keep my chin up when it was dragging on the ground.
Thank you!!!!
Thank you to Dr. Love and Theresa Daily for making me laugh while I was crying.
Thank you Sam, for your support and worry. Thank you Rich for your advice, your two fantastic leaders and most of all, your wind suit!!!
I loved this race and I hated all at the same time. I am much better off as a dog driver now because this was so hard.
I have to go. I'm heading south with the dogs for a week or so because it's 50 below at our house right now and the dogs need a warmer climate to recoup. Full recap and race photos to come.

Friday, December 26, 2008

'Twas the night before GinGin....

And all through the house, Jillian was having a freaking conniption fit!
Doesn't rhyme, but you get the point. We're leaving in one hour for Paxson and the start of the GinGin 200, a 200-mile dog sled race which I will be competing in. It's my first 200-miler and a qualifying race for the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest, so saying that I'm nervous would be such an understatement that I, I, I...well, it's an understatement...
Capiche is out with a shoulder injury and I've had to borrow two leaders from my BFF Rich. Ku and Rohn are Iditarod veterans and they add a lot of depth to my team. I'm relieved to have them. The rest of the team is: Bully, Hazel, Hitchcock, Sipsi, Summer, Doyon, Crush and Pete. A good mix of ages and experience, strength and drive. We hope. I just need to finish this race. (Cue disclaimer) I'm not competitive, so even if I'm last, that's OK with me. I'm saying all this more for myself, not for you all. I still have photos to post and most likely more from the race. Stay updated at or
I could go on and on about the team and how beautiful it's going to be and how I'm looking forward to the challenge and being on the trail with a myriad of champions, but I'll save it. I have to go the bathroom. Again.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Still livin' but you know I'm not denyin'

OK, seriously, bear with me here folks. I got back from the Sheep Mountain race and went into the White Mountains for a 50-mile run. I'm heading out again tomorrow for a few days of back-to-back 50s before giving the team a few days off before the big race next weekend! Yikes! I think I'm ready, though, as far as what I'll need for 200 miles in the mountains. I broke down yesterday and bought a $100 table saw to cut meat. I know a meat saw is the ticket, but I have no money, so the table saw will do for now. It took me most of the afternoon (and a whole lot of swearing) to assemble the damn thing but I finally got it running and cut up a bunch of beaver and fish. I must have ingested some of the raw-meat dust because I woke up this morning with, er, stuff, gushing out of all, er, exits. Not pretty. So my trip to the Whites has been delayed until tomorrow. The dogs are in good shape, though I'm a little worried about my leader situation. Capiche has been having shoulder issues and Bully has been putting the brakes on for no apparent reason. He's fine in the team but lately has no interest in leading. I've been using Kat, Doyon and Sneaky Pete as my backups and though they do well up front, they're having passing issues. Sigh. I don't know what to do. I guess we'll see how she goes. I have a ton of photos from the past month, which I will put on the blog when I get home on Tuesday, I promise!
OK, must go finish packing the truck.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Never trust a big butt and a smile

Hey. Remember me? Well, I'm back. Sorry for the delay. (It seems like I've been apologizing a lot lately.) I just spent two weeks in Big Lake training dogs and it was fantastic. They have lots of snow there and great trails. And it's warm...and by warm, I mean not 20 below F like it is here. Some days it was a little too warm and so I did a lot of night running. I trained with my BFF Rich Savoyski out of Greg Parvin's house. The trail jumps right onto the Iditarod route with lots of twisty turns and white-knuckle downhills. The dogs did great and we put in over 200 miles in under two weeks. Not bad for me. We did back-to-back four-hour runs and bumped them to fifty miles, which took me about six hours with a short snack break. We added some shorter runs in the mix to keep things fun. Bully and Capiche stayed in lead for the majority of the time but I did try some younger dogs up front too. We got a lot of practice head-on passing with some big guns like Ryan and Ray Redington and Cim Smyth. (Is that Cim?)
We got practice breaking trail and saw tons of overflow...some knee deep! The dogs just bombed through it all like champions. I couldn't be more proud of them. I took 14 dogs down with me (Bully, Capiche, Sister, Hitchcock, Strider, Brady, Hazel, Drake, Pete, Kat, Summer, Sipsi, Crush and Doyon) and still have to narrow the team down to 10 for the GinGin 200 which is now just a couple short weeks away!!! I feel a lot more confident in my camping skills and checkpoint routine and also in massaging and taking care of the dogs' feet. Even though I was away from Fairbanks, the cabin, Sam and the remaining dogs, I feel like this was the best decision I could have made for the team and my sanity. I'm actually not freaking out about the race now.
I'm home for tonight and then take off again tomorrow for the Sheep Mountain 150. I'm handling for Ken Anderson, who was fourth in Iditarod this year, and covering the race for the News-Miner and Mushing Magazine. Should be fun. There are some really top teams in this, the first race of the season, and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I'll be home late Sunday or early Monday and then it's back to long runs with my team in the White Mountains to get ready for GinGin. Watching the dogs progress like this is why I love driving dogs. It's hard sometimes, but we push through together as a team, and at the end we're all exhausted and fulfilled. I love this job!
PS. I would like to thank the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner for their sponsorship and also Lou Ann Savoyski in Minnesota for making me the best dog jackets I have ever seen for a super great price. Your support means more than you can ever know.

Friday, November 21, 2008

He's got more balls than a big, brass monkey

Sorry for the lack of posting. I was in Anchorage/Big Lake/Wasilla for the past week visiting friends, running dogs, buying a feminine pee know, the usual. I'm back now and waiting for my handler to come and help me run the dogs. I got my new sled yesterday and in a word, it's AWESOME! I never, in a million years, thought a 40-pound hunk of metal and plastic could make me squeal like an infant, but this, people, is what makes me happy. This year is going to be fan-freakin-tastic. I must thank another sponsor. My sister-in-law Rebecca gave a chunk of money to Spitfire Kennel and it couldn't have come at a better time. Thank you so much for your kind words and support. It means a lot to me. More than you can imagine. I also think I have a line on Lynden Transport, which would be my first corporate sponsor.
I'm putting together a sponsor package today and will be sending them out early next week. Don't be pissed if you get one. (By the way, if you're on our Christmas-card list, you're getting a sponsor letter.) If you would like a sponsor letter (or a Christmas card), send me your address and I'll mail you one. It comes with a photo of me and some good lookin' dogs. My email is Obviously, I don't want anyone to feel obligated to donate because I know your kind thoughts are with me and I appreciate that very much. I got my meat order finally and the dogs are filling out nicely. I'm going to Cantwell next Sunday to run the dogs on a sled for a few days. Should be fun. It's getting colder here. It was 23 below zero Fahrenheit this morning but has warmed up to about 12 below. Perfect dog-running weather. OK, must go wrestle the four-wheeler down to the dog yard.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Opinions are like kittens, I was givin' 'em away

Nothing really to report. I bumped the dogs up to 20 miles today and the run was spotless. I'm going to Anchorage tomorrow for a few days to pick up some booties, fish and beaver meat and visit friends. Umm, let's see. What else? I like long walks on the tundra and starry nights. I like tea, both black and chai. My new sled is getting shipped up from North Dakota and should be here next week. OK, that's it. My life is boring at the moment.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Baby, please stop crying. No seriously, shut the hell up.

Babies. Who loves babies out there? Can I get a woot??! Well, I for one, don't really care for babies. They're kind of - how can I put this so as not to offend? - half-tarded. No, wrong. They're...uh, babies are...annoying. There. Better?
There are a few exceptions of course, the first being my nephew Jaden. Cutest baby there ever was. Always smiling, always happy, always adorable. The Engman kids as babies were too cute for words and as bad as I am with kids, I could spend hours with lil Ella and Eli even now. They adore me, and that helps. Ella, of the Trish and Graeme gang, is very cute and looks remarkably intelligent for her tender age. Of course there are other kids in my life that I enjoy. Eva is a sassy 8-year-old who is always up for adventure. (I think her mom's still pissed at me for giving Eva a book of matches at our last bonfire. Oops. What?)
And Owen. T-Bird has raised this boy right. He's one of the smartest, most inquisitive children I've ever met.
And then there's Daniel of the Erin and Aaron ilk. He reminds me of an indignant old man and he's only, what, two? Hilarious. He's built like a brick shithouse and always makes me smile.
I'm sure there are more kids in my life. Oh yeah! Ken and Gwen just had twins, and though I haven't had the pleasure of meeting them yet, or seeing Ken change a shitty diaper (haha! sucka!) I've seen a heap of photos and Leif and Marais look adorable.
As we all know, I have 20 children (yes, down to 20) and I love each and every one of them with all my heart. Except when they don't listen. Or poo on the carpet upstairs. Or whine incessantly. Or fight with each other. Sound familiar? A parent is a parent even if their kids are furry and four-legged.
OK, here are some pics of the children in my life sans my four-legged babies.

My sister took these photos of Jaden. He's ready for Alaska!



Leif and Marais, Ken and Gwen's twins.

Ella, Trish and Graeme's babe.

Sam took this gem of Eli and Ella this summer. Apparently they just climbed into this old dog house on their own. Too cute!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Give a man an inch, and he thinks he's a ruler

Got up at 5 a.m. today. Guess why. That's right. Americans vote today! I got up, threw some pants on, (I tried to wear my Carhartt bibs, but Sam said they stunk too badly. Meh.) sloshed some coffee down my gullet and headed to Chatanika. The Associated Press wanted photos of the 'real' Alaska on election day. Which of course means stereotypes. Which is fine. Chatanika Lodge was a polling station for that area and has lots of dead animals on the walls, random dogs inside and hardened, yet uber-friendly locals milling around. I love that place. I think I could live there. But, in a word, it's fucked. But in a good way. The walls are packed with the aforementioned stuffed animals, along with photos, trinkets, and hundreds of christmas lights in every color. It's kind of like walking into an epileptic seizure. And at 7 this morning, loaded to gills with strong coffee and a whole lot of nervous energy, I was buzzing and very, very stimulated. I got some decent shots of voters and then walked around shooting anything that caught my eye. We then headed to Goldstream to shoot some more voters before I filed the photos to the AP in New York. And now here I am, home and ready for a nap.

A poll worker gets ready for the onslaught. Two voters showed up in the 90 minutes we were there.


The bar. Down at the end was Shirley, who, along with her hubby, owns the joint. She greeted us in her bathrobe, made coffee, stoked the wood stove and went back to bed before the first voter showed up.

One of the photos on the wall.

Dollar bills crowd the ceiling.

Night lights for sale.

And mirrors on the ceiling. Oh yeah!

The outside.

A voter named Elmer. I'm not shitting you.

A dog team parked outside the polling station in the Goldstream Valley.

Rock the vote, y'all!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage

Here are some photos of Roy and Sipsi this afternoon after our training run. Oh, and one snap of a hare in the drive this morning. I think I'll call him Tito. I might set out a snare for Tito to play with.
I have to get up at the crack of crowpiss tomorrow for this election coverage. I'm shooting for the Associated Press as part of the 'America Votes' project. I'm going out to the polling station at Chatanika Lodge where I'm sure to get the unique Alaskans they're looking for in NYC, Washington and SanFran. Hooray for Alaskan Freaks. United We Stand!....or sit! On bar stools! At 7 in the morning! More whiskey in your coffee? Mmmm, yes please!

Tito admires our copious amounts of wood.

Sipsi and Roy made out for a good hour.

Then Roy felt guilty and tried to make up for it by blessing Sipsi in the name of the lord...or was it satan? I can't remember. He looks possessed in this picture, no?

He can be cute. I had to lock him out last night because he wouldn't shut the hell up. I used the deadbolt because he can push the door open otherwise. He threw a hissy fit on the porch and Sam ended up letting him in around 3 a.m.

Sipsi eyes saying 'Get this freakshow away from me.'

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I'm turning in my old sinful ways

I did another 15-mile training run today - with the help of Lars - and it was uneventful. Which is good, I'm not complaining. Sneaky Pete has been running in lead with Capiche and he's turning into the superstar I expected. There was a lot of passing on the trail today as it's Sunday and the dog-walkers, skijorers and skiers were out in droves. The dogs did really well. Sister was in swing and lunged at a couple dogs as we passed by, but there were no incidents. Johnny Wagner, a photographer at the News-Miner, was out on the trail looking for a feature photo for tomorrow's paper. He was snapping away until he realized it was me on the four-wheeler. (I can't very well be on the front page of the paper, can I?) He emailed me a couple shots, so here you go. I think I'll train again tomorrow as I'm covering election day for the AP on Tuesday.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Foxes mate for life because they're in love-ove-o-ove...

I made Thai food tonight. It smelled really good, but it tasted, well, it did not taste good. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. I'm dreading tomorrow's morning outhouse ritual. Too much info? Yeah. Thought so.
I took the dogs out yesterday and bumped up their miles to 15. I think I'll do one more 15-mile run and then bump them up again as they weren't tired at all. The run was spotless except for one minor glitch. I've been on this water kick lately and, as usual, drank my weight in coffee in the morning so halfway through the training run, I had to pee so bad I could taste it. Lars was with me so I geared the four-wheeler down to first, turned the machine off and told (no,, I told him) to hold both brakes while I scooted right behind the machine to take a pee. I was trying to hurry but I had to take off my parka, wool coat, fleece coat, then unbuckle my bibs and pull down my long johns and gitch before the sweet release of urine could begin. Mid-pee, the team (18 dogs) took off with Lars looking stunned.
Lars: 'Uh, Jillian?'
Me: 'Son of a motherf***ing, c***s***ing, s***e***ing biatch!'
Lars: speechless
Me: 'Lars! Use the foot brake! Turn the wheels! Steer into the willows! STOP!!!'
Lars: 'I can't!'
Me: 'Stop!!!'
Lars managed to get them stopped as I hurried to cover my bare (and might I add large and glaring white) ass, grab my layers of winter clothes and hobbled and wheezed my way down the trail back to the team.
I was almost there, pants at my knees, when they took off again.
Me: 'F***!!!'
Lars: 'Whoa! Whhhoooooaaaaa! Capiche!!!'
Again, Lars got them stopped and I caught up, with my pants up now. I stood in front of the machine, hurriedly putting on my coats. They bolted again. I grabbed the handlebars from the side and dragged along for a minute until they stopped again.
I hopped on, half-dressed, and we were off.
I feel like this year I've been much calmer with the dogs. After a summer of hooking up two teams a day I learned not to get excited. But come on, I was standing there bare ass a blazin' with my life running away and a neophyte dog guy trying to stop the missile. The occasion was ripe for a freakout.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I was working in the lab, late one night

Happy Halloween, y'all!
I don't have much to say except that. Oh, and I've gotten two sponsors so far! Hooray! They're listed over here >>> so check them out!

This is from last year. Pumpkins tend to freeze and last all winter, so at Christmas we just plop a santa hat on this thing and call it good. I didn't carve a tiny pumpkin this year because I've been way too lazy busy.

Here's a prototype of the bumper sticker. Too much? Let me know.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Restless Spirit Wandering

The four-wheelie is busted, yo. So, yeah, if it's not working by tomorrow, the dogs will pull the dead machine. Which is fine with a big team, except I'll have to alter my route slightly so that I don't have to go around any sharp corners. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've been letting the dogs loose just to stretch out and have a little fun. Yesterday, Lars and I walked a whack of dogs down to the chain of lakes behind my house. The good times are killing me. I'm stressed because this is their third day off. Oh well, such is life with machines, I guess. OK, more later, I have to go outside and make a cozy little tent for our dear four-wheeler to try and warm it up so it will start. I might offer it some tea and salmon around six. Poor little dove. (I'm trying to be nice to it might work better than kicking it and calling it a massive piece of shit.)
Peace and hippie hugs

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Will you be stickin' with me when the money's gone?

Oh, Christ.
Before I get into that, let me just preface by saying that things are good here. Sam's back, Roy's butter farts are lingering, training is going well, and the weather is cold and clear.
With that being said, I repeat: Oh, Christ.
I signed up for the Yukon Quest 300 on Friday. It's official. I'm nervous already. There's so much to think about, I can't imagine how I'll be when it's time to do the 1,000-mile version. Follow the link below to see my hilarious profile and gorgeous self-portrait. I must get back to chopping fish and cutting up pork fat. Yes, my life is glamorous.

Upon request, I added a donation button over to the right. We'll see how this goes, but really, I'm not expecting much. I will list sponsors on my blog and anyone who donates will get something in return. In the near future I will be making signed photos, t-shirts, bumper stickers ("Honk if you love tail - Spitfire Kennel, Fairbanks, AK") and also, I will be offering a guided trip at the end of the season for a couple lucky sponsors. So, here we go.

Friday, October 24, 2008

All of the angels would sell off your soul

Training has been going so well, I'm finding it hard to believe. My dogs are champs. I love each of them so much, just when I think I can't adore them any more, I see something that makes my heart explode. I love the way Hazel plays coy on top of her house and then groans when I scratch her back. I love how Capiche's bark sounds like a flooded car. I love how Strider pouts until he's hooked up and then screams like mad. And Summer is the sweetest dog off the line, but on, she's a freakin' maniac. Drake is super sensitive but a fearless leader. Doyon is silly but is so focused on the team I want to stop and hug him every five seconds. And so on and so forth. Anyway, here are some photos of the last few runs. Rich was here for a few days and today John showed up to help. Roy has eaten two and half sticks of butter in the last two days. I think he's acting out because Papa Sam is gone. Who knows.

A couple days ago on a 10-miler with Rich.

Today with John.

Teeth marks in the butter taken just moments ago. Roy has a new addiction besides being annoying: butter.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm never lonesome when I'm by myself

So Sam's gone to Indy for the FFA conference and it's just me and the dogs. My friend Rich is in town getting some dog stuff done, so at least I have some company, even if it is Rich.
I've been running the dogs often and we're up to 8-mile runs. I think I'll bump them up to 10 or 11 today. The weather's been cool and clear. Perfect for the huskies. The dogs are doing really well. I think running them this summer was the best thing I could have done for them. My new dogs are really fitting in nicely and the trails are perfect right now. I can leave from the yard and run over the frozen swamp on the sprint trails with the ATV.
Not much else to report, really. Here are a couple of photos from yesterday's dog run. Sam came with so I could take out 18 at once.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's hard to hear over the Wet Thunder

I was SO excited yesterday to go out to Fox to the Howling Dog Saloon and watch this crazy lesbian jug band called the 'Bac'untry Bruthers - All night dRAGTIME Revue' (Long name, I know but you get the idea) These girls are so good, it hurts...especially the next morning...
So, Sam, me, Mark, John, Bob, Jessie and even Tamara showed up to watch and drink and dance. As soon as we walked in the door, we knew something was off. We looked around for the lesbian-jug-band-crowd, but instead saw the same whithered, old locals and some college kids who were way too drunk at that early hour. Hmmm. Then we saw hairy, fat guys setting up the stage...Hmmm, again. They didn't look very lesbionic to us. Finally we asked someone and sure enough, The Bac'untry Bruthers played the night before...and tonight? An 80s/90s heavy metal band called Wet Thunder. Oh. My. God. Hilarious. And shitty. All at the same time. Sam, Mark and I wound up staying way too long but, you know, it had been a while since I've heard Warrant. I'm pretty sure there were some good songs mixed in there, but they sucked, so it was hard to tell.
Anyway, it's snowing like mad right now and the dogs and I are really excited. I've been training on the four-wheeler but would obviously like to get on the sled ASAP. Speaking of sleds, I ordered my first brand new sled yesterday. It's a limited edition Nitro 64 made by Prairie Bilt. Ok, so with shipping from North Dakota, I dropped $3,600, but I need a good sled for racing this year and it is an investment. Right? RIGHT??
I went to the Yukon Quest rookie workshop, a seven-hour affair, on Friday and it was amazing! I learned so much. Hans Gatt, Gerry Willomitzer, John Schandelmeier, Brent Sass, Kelley Griffin, Gwen, and Ken (the angry Teletubby) were there to answer all the usual rookie questions and concerns about the Quest. I'm not doing the 1,000-mile version this year, but hopefully next.
Anyway, I've rambled on long enough. More later. Later.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man

As promised, here are some photos of the final days in Skagtown.
But first: Happy Birthday, Gran!! I miss you so much and will keep the foul-mouthery to a minimum from now on. (Yes, a titty bar is the same as a strip club.)
OK, here are some photos with a longer update coming soon.

Ahab, one of Rich's dogs. One blue eye, one brown. The tourists loved it.

Two of my new dogs. Doyon on the left and lil' Crush on the right. Love them! They are both so sweet and work like crazy.

Hitchcock doing her usual 'woo woo' routine. The tourists loved, and I mean loved, her.

My fearless leaders ready for their last tour of the season. Bully on the right and Capiche on the left. They're waiting, poised, for the 'Ready? Let's go!'

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A firm grasp on what little she knows

If I hear the word Maverick one more time, unless it's accompanied by 'Goose or IceMan,' I'm going to set something on fire. Oh yeah. You betcha. *wink*
Some are calling Palin's performance at the VP debate 'A win for low expectations.' I mean, I guess it's good that she didn't spontaneously burst into flames (is it?) but that's about all she managed to accomplish: not dying. Low expectations indeed.
It was embarrassing and that's all I'm saying about that.
Now, on to more important things. Me!
It's taken a few days, but I am settling back into my comfy life in Squarebanks. Pooping in an outhouse instead of the woods is heaven. Having a wood stove that keeps the cabin warm though the night? Luxury! A full size propane stove and a sort-of real kitchen? Forget about it!
It's 5F right now and I'm stoked to start training. I took the new four-wheelie out yesterday to scope out the trails. I got stuck twice, had to walk three miles home to get the come-along and then walk back to winch myself out of the bog. Needless to say the swamps aren't quite frozen enough for training. Any day now, though.
So I got some new dogs and am up to 22 now. 19 of those are potential race dogs.
Here they are in no particular order...
Sneaky Pete
Plus Roy and Gus and Carol who are too freakish, too fat, and too old, respectively.
The rest of the mongrels are in fantastic shape but are getting antsy to get moving again. I've been letting most of them loose each day but I need to get them in harness.
I've put in an order at for 1,500 booties and already spent $900 at Coldspot on dog food and a couple of houses.
(Segue neatly into the sponsorship plight.)
I want to try and get sponsors this year. But am still mulling the idea of how to offer the most for my potential sponsors whilst not consuming all my energy on making donors happy. I want it to be win-win for all involved.
Jodi - gal pal, marathoner, musher - was talking about offering guided trips at the end of the race season for those who gave a certain amount of cash. I might steal that idea. Any ideas or thoughts are more than welcome on how to get this ball rolling. For example, if you gave money or time or an in-kind donation, what would you want in return? If anything, of course.
Meanwhile, I'm getting ready for winter. Setting up ganglines, mending harnesses, etc. Now all I need is a pressure!
Well, on with the photos.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Reflections (Not the titty bar on South Cush.)

I'm home! Put the tea on kids, I have stories. I arrived at 3:30 this morning with more dogs than I left with and a renewed enthusiasm for the winter months ahead. OK, not really. More dogs, yes, but I'm tired as shit and am on my way out the door to have our old biddy Ruffles put down. She hung around 'til I got back, but needs to go to sleep now.

Friday, September 12, 2008

You loved me more when I was sober and you were kinder

Well then. Another week, another myriad of cool and demonstrably uncool tourists. It's really slowing down now and the end of the season in Skagtown means all the cruise ship passengers that are coming to the dog camp to take a tour are the ones that have either a) done their research and planned one getting a discounted Alaskan cruise or b) won the trip on The Price is Right. Either way, the tips have suckity suck sucked as of late.
I don't have much time, so here's a quick rundown: Things are good. Dogs are good. Life is good. Weather is cool but nice. I leave here on the 28th. Anonymous commenters are spineless fuckwits.
OK, more on Sunday.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I'm bankrupt on selling... myself

A few words about me:

I'm messy and I don't care.
I'm clumsy.
I'm a bad sled driver.
I'm thoughtful.
I love mushing dogs.

Well, the season is winding down and I have mixed feelings. It's all very melancholic. I feel sad that all my new two- and four-legged friends are going to go away sooner rather than later, and in a weird way, I'm actually going to miss the tourists. Some of them, anyway. The summer is over. The leaves are turning, the weather is shit and there's nothing I'm loving more than going to my cabin and curling up by my wood stove after a day of running dogs in the rain.
The dogs are in great shape but are getting bored and therefore starting to fuck off on a regular basis. I've got piles of harnesses to repair (bored dogs equals chewed harnesses) and nothing else to worry about. Not bad.
So, to all the tourists out there who asked insightful questions and offered sincere well-wishes; thank you. To the others, and you know who you are, go back to Texas or Arkansas or wherever the hell you were hatched and never, never return.
I'm looking forward to getting back to Fairbanks, my Sam and my home. I'll give the dogs a few days of loose running before we start fall training in earnest. My first big race will be the Gin Gin 200 at the end of December in Paxson, followed by the Quest 300 in Whitehorse in mid-February. Upon completion of those, I will be qualified (on paper at least) for the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest and/or Iditarod. Yikes.
I have a lot of trips planned for the winter and am looking forward to long runs and solo camping trips with the dogs.
Here are some pics from the past couple of weeks.


Rainbow over Lower Dewey Lake. Rich and I hiked up there last weekend.

The leaves, they are a changin'.

Handlers hard at work as usual.

Sewing harnesses. Bully was no help.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

And I'm bound to go out of my mind

You might want to grab a coffee because this is bound to be a long, photo-heavy post. I'm sitting in a crack-ass Internet place guzzling coffee and listening to Bon Jovi over the speakers in here. I don't have my truck in town and my ride isn't coming to get me for a couple hours, so here goes. First of all, I want to say that I apologize for all the delays in posting but, well, I've been preoccupied as you can all imagine. And, it's only going to get worse. I might not post again for a few weeks.
Anyway, work is going well. Good money, good for the dogs and good for me. I miss Sam terribly, especially when he tells me things like 'I bought you a four-wheeler for your birthday' and 'I bought a new dog-truck for you.' Please, someone, tell me what I did to deserve such a thoughtful, selfless guy. I still haven't figured it out.
The tourists are touriffic. OK, not really. I actually had to tell a lady to get the hell off my cart (twice) the other day. She got right in my face and said 'You tell me how this isn't cruel.' I said 'Well, usually wagging tails is an indication that dogs are happy.' She proceeded to interrogate me about the dogs' well being and I got defensive and told her to get off. She later apologized. Fucking stupid bitch. (Sorry, Gran)
Here are the top five most inane questions I get from tourists.
**I get these queries at least 10 times a day and they all inevitably come after I've already explained everything they're about to ask. That's why these questions make me want to douse the cart with diesel and light a match.
1) 'So, like, do these dogs run on snow?' Duh.
2) 'Why are the dogs so skinny?' Not skinny, fit. These dogs actually exercise. Gasp.
3) 'Why do they run sideways?' Because they stayed out too late last night.
4) Have you seen 8 Below? No, but all those dogs actually died.
5) Where are the real huskies? Frozen solid in Antarctica.
But, for every ignorant slut there's at least one or two really great people each day. People who ask thoughtful questions and not just barf out the first thing that pops into their little heads.
OK, enough about work.
Despite that little rant, I am really enjoying it still but am missing Sam terribly.
I do, however, think I'll come back again next year.
On a lighter note, literally, I cut all my dreads off and sport a short, shaggy do that looks like a cross between Binky the Clown and Kramer. Meh.
It's been raining a lot here and getting a little cooler. Summer is officially over. And we still have six weeks left of the cruise-ship season. The Coho salmon are running in the creek just outside dogcamp and the bears are out in full force. They're freakin' everywhere. It's pretty cool except when I come in late at night and it's dark and I have to cross the creek on foot. I usually sing at the top of my lungs...I think that would scare anything away.
OK, enough rambling. On with the photos. Thanks for hanging in there, folks. Upon my arrival back in Squarebanks, I'll be posting regularly again. I should add that I'm really excited for this season. I'm decided to do the Gin Gin 200 and the Quest 300 as my qualifiers for the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest in 2010. Yikes.

Me, sans dreads.
Everybody loves Bully.

And Bully loves Twizzlers.

With dreads. *Bleh*

Laura getting excited for another day in paradise.

Our water source.

Dog-food cabin.
My dog barn.

My dog yard.

Skagtown from above.
John hooking up a team.

Rich's pup Lil' Wayne.

Lower camp.

And more lower camp.