Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy holidogs from Spitfire Kennels!

As Christmas gets closer, Rich and I are actually getting into the holiday spirit....even though we tried to resist. I had a burst of energy the other night so I went out in the snow and wind, plowed through chest-deep snow and hacked down a spindly spruce tree. We don't have room for it in the cabin, so I stuck it in a snow bank right outside. I decorated it with scrap ribbon and dog booties. Then I hung our stockings beside the wood stove. We're ready. We've been receiving colorful packages and homemade baked goods from Rich's family, which we have been scarfing down. Thank you, Maureen and Dave!! We got our Christmas bonus from work and used some of it for some small gifts for each other. My stocking is already weighed down and it's taking all my strength not to peek inside. Anyway, we're been training sporadically as the winds and new snow have covered the trails. The dogs are doing well at breaking trail, but it's a slog. Yesterday, we were scheduled to have our first tour, but had to postpone the ride part as the temps rose to 40 F and the trails were non-existent with drifts and heavy snow. Rich tried to break through the snow and two-foot drifts with the snowmachine, but to no avail. The guests understood and we still spent a couple of hours with the dogs, puppies and enjoying soup and hot chocolate in the cabin. We're aiming for Sunday for the ride. I'm thinking more people will be out on the trail over Christmas.
Anyway, below are some photos of our Christmas cabin.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Walking the line between faith and fear

OK, I lied. I had H1N1. Have. Swine Flu. Gack! Man, it really kicked my butt. I missed almost two weeks of work. Double gack. And dog training was sporadic. But, I'm at about 80 per cent now and back on the sled. We're doing some longish runs and my goal is still the Copper Basin in mid-January. If not, then the Taiga 300 in mid-February. Then, in March, I'm planning on running the Two Rivers 200. We'll see how money holds up, but I need to do as many races as possible to qualify for Iditarod. And when I say qualify, I mean not just on paper (you need 750 miles of sanctioned racing to get to the Iditarod start) but also actually be qualified through experiences, trials and tribulations. Things have been up and down on the home front. We're in the middle of a blizzard right now...MORE SNOW...and the generator has been broken for over a week now, which means we have no power. I've been sucking down Vitamin D like it's candy to try and avoid the temptation to stick my head in the oven. I kid. (not really) The dogs are all really good. They're in good shape, they're spirits are high and we're all getting itchy for our first camping trip, which will be coming up shortly. Maude had three pups a few weeks back and they're at the perfect age right now. Not too bitey. We named them Audrey, Linus and Ty. Yes, it was unplanned, but we're in love with them and the breeding happened between two of our best young dogs.
In a few days, the longest night will happen and then, thank Dog, we'll be gaining daylight slowly but surely.
I've had an offer to cover the Yukon Quest this year for KUAC, the NPR affiliate in Fairbanks. I'm not sure yet, but I'm seriously considering it. Anyway, here are a couple of photos.

The newest Spitfires. From left, Audrey, Linus and Ty.

After a 30-mile training run the other night, Rich's leaders Hazel and Omar, jumped into the nearest house as soon as we got back into the yard. They were still hooked to the front of the team. We really don't encourage or appreciate that behaviour, but it was pretty damn cute.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Too much of a good thing

Well, I made it back to AK. It was another 12 hours of flying and I got home sick as a dog (NOT swine flu) with four feet of snow at our place. I had a great trip outside and got meet Rich's family. Love them. They are kind and funny and smart and best of all, love to party. I went home to Canada after for a quick trip to see my Gran and reconnect with old friends. My Gran looks good (as always) and seemed to be improving even in the short time I was there. We sang songs and I did her nails and showed her some photos on the computer of the kennel. I know she'll recover quickly.
Meanwhile, Rich came back to AK early and had to shovel all the snow in order to get on with daily dog chores. He also ran the dogs a few times, though breaking trail with snow that deep was very, very difficult for dogs and driver. But now the snowmachiners have been out in force and the trails are in and set up in most places. We went out for a few hours last night and it was great. Clear sky, no wind, the dogs did doesn't get much better. It's still warm here. It hovers around freezing (32 F, 0 C) even at night. Last night on the run we could really feel the temperature swings as we climbed up into the high country and then down onto a river drainage trail. Our first race is coming up in a couple weeks, but I'm actually debating whether or not I'll even go. I'm already signed up and it's only a 120-miler (60 on Sat. and 60 on Sunday) but I just don't know if the dogs will be ready. I could go and use it as a training run, but to be honest, I really don't want another red lantern. Sigh. What to do? Rich suggested I go and do the first 60 and if the dogs aren't into it, we go home, no harm, no foul. I dunno. We'll see.
Anyway, here are some really random photos from our time outside. More to come.
A couple great friends from high school. Leslie and Nicky. It was so great to catch up after several years.
Rich saw this magazine at the Minneapolis airport and couldn't believe it. Roy is on the cover!
Me and my Gran

Rich and his papa.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I'm sitting at this table called love

I'm heading home to Alaska in the morning. Home to over three feet (I'm not exaggerating) of snow. Good, but enough already. The dogs are traveling even shorter miles because they're breaking trail. The snow's even too deep for the snow-go, apparently. Rich has been busy shoveling since he got home on Sunday night.
It's always a little nice to come home, I fall back into the same old moods and routines, but I'm really excited to get back. I've been visiting Gran, who's making progress steadily. I did her nails and we did puzzles. I wish I could just pack her up and take her home with me.
I fly out of Syracuse at 6 a.m. and I've picked up a bug somewhere so my 12-hour marathon on many planes is going to suck. Big time. BUT, I'm going home to my Rich and that's all that matters. Oh, and the dogs, of course. Can't wait.
Photos of random trip stuff coming up.