Sunday, 19 December 1999

December 19, 1999

Well, we are in the countdown until I leave for Alaska! One week today!!!! I think 'YIPPEE' until I realize all that is still left to be done! One obstacle stands in our way and that is snow. I got an email from Maureen in Alaska saying that she had switched over to a sled, but was only running teams of 4 for safety. We really need another 6 inches or so to make things safe up there!

At home we have run into some weather problems too. We got some more snow but it is not enough for the sleds and too much for the quads. I took 2 - 8 dog teams out on Saturday, but Mark had to come out on the snowmobile in case I had a tangle or problem because there is not enough of a base to sink a snowhook. So, it has been a bad week for training and I've fallen a little behind my training mileage goals.

My Mother and brother, Jim came up during the week for a little early Christmas celebration. It sure was nice to have them up. Jim is even talking about coming back on Monday to help me with some of my preparations! I certainly put him to work for the time he was here. On Thursday we packed 23 dogs into the dog truck and headed for the vet in Westlock. We had bloodwork and health certificates for crossing the Alaska border done on 22 of them. Everyone checked out fine and we certainly caused a stir in the Clinic!

Number 23 on the truck was a sad story. As I had previously mentioned, we had a tumor removed from Pirates intestines a few weeks back. Unfortunately, the tests came back and Pirate has cancer. Dr. Jackson figures that he will only live about another 6 months or so. We took him in on Thursday to do a complete blood panel to try and better pinpoint how long he has. Like all my dogs, when their 'time' comes, I wish for them to go surrounded by their family - the people that love them. As I won't be around for Pirate in January, February, and March, I want to make sure that he is going to be okay until I get home. Things are looking pretty optimistic for that. All and all a sad situation.

I still have a really tough decision to make and that is which 20 of the 22 dogs currently in training are going to Alaska with me. I've been puzzling this over in great detail and having the hardest time making this decision, but there is only room on the truck for 20 dogs for an extended trip, so it is going to have to be figured out this week! Everyone has strengths that I know would be an asset out on the trail. What to do, what to do!!!???? I'll post the names of the 20 I pick here as soon as I make up my mind!

My Mom certainly worked hard while she was here too. On top of slaving away in the kitchen cooking an early Christmas dinner, she was vacuum sealing trail meals that were donated to me by my best friend, Lynda Brown and her husband Dwayne Dubetz. I'm really, really lucky to have these two gifted cooks preparing meals for the trail. I'm definitely going to be eating better on the Iditarod then I do at home when I'm cooking for myself!

Well, there is lots more to say, but no time to say it, I'm afraid. I need to get outside and get the dogs fed and ready for the day. We are going to do 2 - 30 milers on the sled today, with snowmobile backup for safety!

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