Saturday, May 31, 2008

I never met a Toby I didn't like

OK. I found a spot in town with wireless but forgot my power cord at the ranch so no photos yet. Soon. Stay with me here, people. The job is still going well but my team is slowing down a little. We had a weird Alaska heatwave here last week and it completely sapped my dogs. So much so that we had to get off the hill early because my dogs just wouldn't pull in the heat. Smart dogs. Other people's teams seem to be handling it better and the weather has cooled off today so let's hope for more cold and rain....I never thought I'd be saying that. Things are rolling along here. The tourists are still the same. Some are amazing and some are meh. Lots of questions, some good and some frustrating. Like when people ask if the dogs really like it. Um, do you really think they'd be wagging their tails and screaming like maniacs if they didn't? Duh. Probably the most-asked questions I get are 'Do you run these dogs on snow?' or 'Have you seen 8 Below?' or 'Why are they so small?'
Every freakin' day it's the same. Sometimes I take the time to explain everything and sometimes, if I'm tired or hot or both, I give the short answer. "Because." Just kidding. Sometimes I'll pawn off the really stupid questions on my handler. "That's a good question and Nick's going to explain the answer to you."
My handler will make up something that, if it's close enough to the truth, I'll let slide.
My little cabin on the bluff is perfect and the people, for the most part, are still loads of fun. Drama is unfolding every day and it's pretty funny to watch while trying to keep my fat yap shut and not get involved. Anyway, Sam's coming in a couple weeks and I'm really excited to see him. I've been missing him more and more lately, now that all the 'new job' fun is over and I'm settling into a routine.
I guess the only thing that I would change about my little cabin is to have an outhouse. Poopin' in the woods just ain't what it used to be now that the mosquitoes are awake and hungry. Enough said.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tyler Michaels got fired!

I just have to start by saying that I have the best blog readers in the world! Thanks, guys and gals for boosting my already-inflated ego. I love you all. Skagtown is fan-freakin'-tastic. Except of course that Tyler (a horse guide) actually did get fired and I'll miss him and his big white dog named Clifford. I think that Tyler getting canned is the only gossip...oh, Nick and Tessa hooked up after the company party on Saturday. And Joe got laid. OK, that's all I know, I swear. Today I ran a team in the morning with some really nice guests and did kennel talks in the afternoon. That's where I stand in front of the group and talk about mushing, my experiences and introduce them to one of my dogs. Usually I use Bully, but today I took Hitchcock and she was a superstar. I totally love my job and I haven't been able to say that in earnest in a really long time. It's been hot and sunny here which is great for me but hot for the dogs. I threw Bully in the creek today. He's still pouting. I think I'm have a bit of a pre-mid-life crisis. Everyone here is in their early '20s and though I get along with them all great and can relate surprisingly well, the age gap still bugs me a little bit. For the first time in a while, I wish I was five years younger. But then Sam would be 20 years older then me and that's just creepy. Sigh. OK, photos to come, I promise. Hang in there. I've been preoccupied with this dog thing. I think this job will provide a good opportunity to snag a few sponsors for my Yukon Quest plight. Maybe even Iditarod? Yikes. I get nervous just thinking about it and it's years away.
Anyway, time to go back to Dyea. I love it here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I told you I was trouble and you know I'm no good

It always amazes me how people get offended by my blog. How about this: Stop reading it, then!
So, I found a wireless connection but haven't made it there yet. Work is going to get nuts this week with back to back to back tours starting at 7 a.m. and ending around 6 p.m. All I want to do after work is sleep. Today was a slow day so we trained for a while now we're in town trying to relax before the onslaught next week. I'm really loving it here. It's so great for the dogs and the pay is pretty darn good. The people I work with are great. Have I already said all this? Probably. OK, photos and more stories soon, I promise. (Really, really offensive and judgmental stories.)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I know you are but what am I?

Finally got to town before six to update. I have tomorrow off, so I'm going to find a wireless spot so I can post photos.
Here's a quick rundown on what's goin' on here in Skagtown.
I love my job.
My body is sore.
I sleep like a rock.
My hands are callused.
My dogs are awesome.
Richard Savoyski should be shot.
I'm smoking more now than I ever have in my life. (I know, I know.)
Skagway's cool...sort of...
The tourists are really nice. (It's true)
I've had some HIGH-larious questions from said tourists.
I work with amazingly cool people.
I work some real boners.
I miss Sam.
I bring dogs into my cabin every night.
Bully is a crowd favourite.
So is Hitchcock.
It rains a lot here.
I've never been so dirty in my life.
Despite the lack of Sam, I'm loving this.
More tomorrow.

Friday, May 09, 2008

We sure are cute for two ugly people

I wish I had a wireless connection so I could post photos. I ran into a tree with my face a couple days ago and have a huge gash on my cheek. Apparently it makes me look tough. Then, yesterday, I got bit by Parker trying to break up a fight and have big bruises and punctures on my forearm. Other than those mishaps things have been going rather well. I've had a couple shiny, happy fits of rage but that's just because hooking up 16 dogs is freakin' stressful, especially when your boss is standing there telling you to hurry. (Plus, I'm PMSing)
The tourists have been really great and the dogs are having a fantastic time. I love my cabin up on the cliff and the people are actually pretty dang nice. I've learned to tune out the obnoxious ones. I've been driving the mosterous cart that holds the (mostly fat) tourists and haven't crashed it yet. I did hit a rock pile and yesterday I took out a water bucket but I just made a joke about getting extra points for hitting the buckets and we all laughed in that fake-touristy kind of way. I'm really getting into this.
Tomorrow I do kennel talks for the morning which means I just blather on about mushing and my adventures and racing etc. Should be fun. I'm going to have Bully there as a model sled dog. Yesterday Bully bit the end of Hershey's (a borrowed dog) tail off. Hershey didn't even notice and he wagged his tail, spraying blood all over everything. Bully just sat there smiling. I wrapped the tail and popped some antibiotics in Hershey and today he's still as happy as ever. That's not like Bully to do something like that, but Hershey is pretty annoying and must have stuck his butt in Bull's face one too many times.
Let's see what else?
I guess that's it for now. It's beautful here and the dogs are almost as happy as they are in winter, so therefore I'm happy.
Miss you, Fairbanks!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

If I die of vanity, promise me to bury me someplace I don't want to be

So here I am in the coffee shop again in Skagway. This is one of three days this summer that we don't have a cruise ship and therefore the whole camp has a day off. Things are going well. We had our first tours yesterday and I handled for a musher to get the hang of things before I start doing my own tours tomorrow. I'm a little nervous, but the tourists thus far have been really into it and everyone at work is really cool. Except for one bastard of an Iditarod musher. He's vulgar and curses more than a truck driver. His name? Well, it starts with R and ends with ich. He placed really shitty in Iditarod and thinks he's all that and a bag of chips. He's actually pretty cool but just needs a little beat down every once in a while to put him in his place. He'll come around. Pretty much everyone that works here is really young. It's only mildly annoying. I can't really name names because I don't want to get in trouble but Blank is a real blanking blank. And Blank is blank and sometimes she's very blank. Blank and Blank are cool, I mean blank, but sometimes they're so blank, it's blank.
The dogs are settling in nicely and I'm looking forward to the summer. The bears are worrisome but I'll survive. And if I don't, well, getting eaten by a griz isn't the worst way to go. If I don't post again for let's say 10 days, I'm inside a bear belly. Send help.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Beware of bears and offensive Iditarod mushers

Well, Jesus, I made it. I made it Skagway after a crazy 14-hour drive, two nights in Whitehorse and 26 crazy dogs. I'm living in Dyea, just outside of Skagway and internet access has been sketchy. I'm at a coffee shop right now, still on the hunt for a wifi location. Skagway is a little port town that was once a bustling city at the turn of the century during the Klondike Gold Rush. Now it caters mostly to tourists. There are some year-round inhabitants and lots of seasonal workers like me, so it's been fun meeting new people. The cruise ships have yet to arrive. But once they do, the boardwalks in Skagway will be packed shoulder to shoulder with white-haired grannies and grampies from Vermont and Florida. With their white shoes and colour-coordinated track suits, the tourists here are easy to spot. Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
I have a sweet little cabin high up on a rock cliff. My dog lot is on the next bluff below me. The dogs are in heaven here. It's cool and with big trees all around, there is plenty of shade. So far I've been tending to my dogs and doing odd jobs around the camp to get ready for the onslaught of visitors. Our first tours (16-dog teams pulling wheeled carts with six tourists, one musher and one handler) begin on Monday. Yesterday I got a crash course (literally) in driving those carts. I only hooked up 12 dogs because the cart wasn't full and yet my dogs still seemed to struggle. We have to turn the team around 180 degrees at the end of each one-mile tour and that really confused Bully and Capiche. By the fourth run, they were ready to give me the finger and call it a day. We stopped then thank goodness. They'll get it, I'm sure, this is new for me and the dogs. I really think I'm going to like it here. The people, for the most part, are really cool. And there are around 300 dogs so there's always doggie love to have. Once the season gets rolling, it's going to be a lot of work, but I'm ready.
Sorry if this post is all over the place, but I'm trying to get it all in.
Oh yeah, there's a huge bear problem at the camp, so I'm getting nervous about that...more later
I'm running out of time.