Well, I have to admit some relief at turning the page on my calendar this morning. With the loss of Charlie, Bravo and Orion all happening in the last 30 days, January of 2004 will not be kindly remembered in our lives.
This weekend has been a tough one for a dog musher, such as myself, who is itching to be out on the Race Trail. In addition to the Earl Norris Memorial Sprint Race, the Don Bowers Memorial Race and Tustemena 200 are also running in Alaska right now.
I really debated running the Don Bowers race, which offers either a 200 or 300 mile class, but sternly reminded myself of the plans and goals we set earlier in the year. That plan calls for Iditarod to be the sole race for us this season - we had good solid reasons for those decisions then, so there is no need to second guess them now. And besides, a number of the dogs have a mild case of kennel cough, so stressing them too much right now would be far from wise. Squeaky could have his name changed to 'Raspy' - poor boy. Crunchie, Odie, Draco and Hector are also hacking away. The team was vaccinated for the disease before they came to Alaska, so it should run its course pretty quickly. Better now then at the end of February or the beginning of March, I keep telling myself.
As I mentioned the other day, I volunteered to help out with the Earl Norris Sprint Race, which is held in conjunction with the Willow Winter Carnival. My 2 hour stint as a Race Judge was very easy and gave me a nice opportunity to stand in the starting chute and take some pictures, something that I don't usually get much time to do at a sled dog race. Afterwards we wandered around and took the time to cheer Earl's grandson, Halvor Norris to a repeat victory in the 'Ice Cream Eating' Contest.
The Carnival is a big deal here and boasts something for everyone. In addition to the Ice Cream Eating Contest and sled dog races, yesterday boasted such events as a Cribbage and Yatzhee tournaments, (I wanted to try this one - as many of you may know, Mark and I play 'Yatzhee for dishes' each night at home, but was busy with the race), Ice Bowling, the worst Carhartt contest, booths of local arts and crafts, snowshoe races and much, much more. Activities go throughout the week and into next weekend. The whole Norris Clan, alone with Janet and myself hit the prime rib kick off
dinner on Friday night. Rumor had it it was moose, not beef, but whatever - it was great.
Today it is back to the races and I want to hustle home afterwards, as it has snowed overnight and I want to get my dogs out breaking some trail before all the neighbors get out and start grooming the trail system with their snow machines.
Welcome to February - it's going to be a great one. I can just tell!