Sunday, 31 December 2000

December 31, 2000

A belated Merry Christmas to all!! The Nelson’s were nice enough to include me in their Christmas celebration, so it wasn’t as hard to be away from my family over the Holidays! Mark had his parents visiting, so he had company and good food for Christmas too!! 

We were back out and running on the 26th, of course. On the 28th we did a nice long, all day run with the dogs. Mine came back into the yard barking and jumping looking for their dinner - that was really great to see. 

I’ve made a couple cuts from the group of 23.  Spider and Jumper won’t be making the trek up to Alaska this time, but as Mark reminded me - both are young and will be contenders again next year!  That leaves only 1 more to cut before the trip now. 

I’ve started to do some planning for the Grand Portage Passage Race. I’m thinking the dogs I vet check in will be Butch, Sissy, Oreo, Nik, Smiley, Orion, Raptor, Chester, Gus, Draco, Mannie, Keesa, and Surge. From that I will need to pick 12 to run the Race with me. I’m not ‘racing’ this Race, rather using it as a training tool for Alaska, so the dogs were selected based on how much I thought they could use the experience.  It will be a great testing ground for up and coming leaders too!!

Jamie and I took yesterday off and heading up to Orr, Minnesota to watch a sprint race there. Ann Stead, who teaches Mushing Boot Camps with Jamie and from who I bought Visa, was there and both of us were keen to watch her run. There were some really nice Siberian teams and folks there and I was glad to get the chance to meet many of them.  No offense to you sprint folks out there, but I did remember why it is that I don’t do that style of racing anymore - all that work for under 20 minutes of mushing!!! I’m way to lazy for that! 

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!! 

Wednesday, 20 December 2000

December 20, 2000

Wow - what a whirlwind few weeks!! First off, my trip to Alaska for the Rookie’s Meeting went really well. The night before I left Mark Nordman, Iditarod Race Marshall called and asked me to speak at the Meeting. He wanted me to talk about the things I felt I did right and the things I felt I did wrong as a rookie last year. So I spent the plane trip organizing and putting those thoughts onto paper. That was an excellent exercise. Although I have put much thought and discussion into this very subject over the year, it was really good to have to condense things into a few points and write it out. 

In Alaska I stayed with friends Carol Nash and John Linnehan. As always, they treated me terrific and we had a great time visiting. Carol and John have one of the most extensive northern culture/dog book collections I’ve ever seen. I found it hard to get any rest with all those books calling out to me. I borrowed a few for my trip out to Minnesota. One I have already finished and REALLY enjoyed was ‘Shadows on the Koyukuk’ by Sidney Huntington.

The Iditarod Rookie’s Meeting was held over 2 days this year. Among the speakers were Rick Swenson, Martin Buser, Juan Alcina, Andy Willis, Dr. Stu Nelson and yours truly! I actually enjoyed this year’s meeting much more then last year. One of the highlights of the weekend was getting to meet Aliy Zirkle - winner of last year’s Yukon Quest. Aliy is a rookie in this year’s Iditarod. I had heard she is a really terrific person and found that to be absolutely true.

All and all an enjoyable and educational weekend!!

I got back home on Monday night and at 6 am Wednesday morning packed up and headed for Minnesota. Folks have been pestering me to find out which dogs made the trip - so here goes J . I actually took 23, as I was unable to cut the number down to 20 and they are (in no particular order):
  • NorthWapiti’s Super Grover (Iditarod veteran)
  • NorthWapiti’s Guy Smiley (Iditarod veteran)
  • NorthWapiti’s Mr. Snuffleupagus (Gus) (Iditarod veteran)
  • NorthWapiti’s Camilla (Iditarod veteran)
  • NorthWapiti’s Orion the Hunter (Iditarod veteran)
  • NorthWapiti’s Draco
  • NorthWapiti’s Butch Cassidy SD (Iditarod veteran)
  • Chuchinka’s Torino (Mork)
  • Chuchinka’s Pathfinder (Chester) (Iditarod veteran)
  • Tumnatki’s Bosun NorthWapiti (Striker) (Iditarod veteran)
  • Chuchinka’s Nicholas II (Nik)
  • Chuchinka’s Raptor
  • Westaskiwin’s Sir Gallahad (Surge)
  •  Ch. NorthWapiti’s Oreo (Iditarod veteran)
  • Hawk’s NorthWapiti Vindicator (Jake) (Iditarod veteran)
  • Ch. Kainai’s Anchorman (Mannie)
  • The Flying Nun of NorthWapiti (Sissy) (Iditarod veteran)
  • Chuchinka’s San Antonio Rose (Kaylinn)
  • Alaskan’s Georgio of Anadyr (Joey)
  • Alaskan’s Jumper of Anadyr
  • Alaskan’ Kessa of Anadyr (Keesa)
  • NorthWapiti’s Cassiopeia
  • Kainai’s Spider
Some really good dogs were left at home this year too - it is nice to have that sort of ‘depth’ in the kennel!

Norman as gone to Red Deer to work on our friends, Jackie Wepruk and Rick Austin’s team for the winter. Jetti is heading down that way too shortly, as we are going to breed her to Norman as soon as she decides to come into season. Rick and Jackie has been kind enough to offer to supervise the breeding, as both Mark and I will probably be gone.

A few of the dogs have actually left for good. Sunny and Rowdy have gone to help establish a team in Ontario. And Sammie has also moved on to a life of luxury in Ontario, but with a different person! It was tough to watch the 3 of them go, especially Sunny - who was a real favorite, but I know they are in great homes and will get lots of love and attention.  

The trip out to Minnesota was pretty uneventful - thank goodness! We all got down here safely and the dogs are out in a section of Jamie’s yard. I keep teasing her that I’m going to take pictures and start the rumor that she is making the switch to Siberians!!

The weekend after I got here, Jamie had her Moccasin Run. The trail had to be altered a little due to snow and trail conditions, but we ended up doing right around 200 miles of running, all on sleds! It was actually my first time standing on the back of a sled since Shaktoolik last year, as there was no snow at home when we got back from Iditarod. Miles on the quad seem okay and fun until you get back on the sled. There is no form of travel nicer, in my mind, then behind a dog team in the snow!! The Run went great, with about 7 teams participating. Everyone seemed to find it an educational and worthwhile event - I know I sure did!

The dogs seemed somewhat flat after their trip and all, but are beginning to turn around already. I think maybe my expectations for them were little high too! As I mentioned in my last diary entry, training is full of highs and lows and I might have forgotten that for a bit and thought that last high was going to last forever. 

More soon!!