Wednesday, 1 February 2006

February 1, 2006 Quiet Willow

What’s with the quiet from Willow – you ask?? Wish I could say that we have been so busy running dogs that I haven’t had time to write, but that just ain’t the case, I’m afraid. The truth of the matter is that Mark and I are the Broken and the Sick.

Of course you all know the story of Mark. He’s still broken, but doing as well as could be expected. He went to the doctor last week and they took out the staples (all 70 of them – and that barely dented the percentage of metal now in his body) and put on a fancy new hard cast. Being the team player he is, when they asked him what color he wanted his cast to be, he choose our team color of red. Very flashy. It isn’t a walking cast and he still isn’t allowed to put weight on it, but now at least we don’t have to peel him off the ceiling if Harriet the cat (his new best bud) jumps on his leg.

He stills spends most of his day with the leg elevated, as it hurts to be upright too long, but we have managed a couple quick trips to Wasilla and this afternoon he hopped downstairs and spend a hour or so bagging up Energy Pack for my drop bags.

And as for me, well I’m sick. There has been a nasty bug floating around and it seems like I ran head first into it on the Copper Basin. I figure this because when I talked to Jamie Nelson, who is now up in Kotezbute, AK she has exactly the same thing. It was a fun conversation with the delay on the radiophone she called on, my coughing and her sniffing.

Anyway, it all started last Tuesday (as in a week yesterday) with a fever, cough, feeling rundown, etc, etc…and it just refuses to leave.

Monday, I decided cold or no cold, the dogs needed to run, so with some help hooking up from my friend (and Howling Dog Farms handler) Janet, I hooked up and ran 2 teams. Yesterday I hooked up and ran a 12-dog team on my own. I didn’t fall down dead at the end of either day, so I figure this will work – and eventually the cold will go away.

Now, to add insult to injury – Mark caught this darn thing.

Lucky Jamie and Harry – we are surely a delightful couple to be around right now.

The good news from up here is that trail conditions are pretty much perfect. We got a few inches of snow while I was on Copper Basin, a few more inches after I got home and a couple more today. Temperatures have been cold, for sure (down in the –20 F range all last week), but nothing unbearable.
The dogs are all doing great. Everyone came off Copper Basin strong. I still have a bunch of girls in season, but that should be done in a week or so – thankfully! The 6 days rest last week rounded everyone’s weight up a bit and put them all in downright spunky moods.

They had a very exciting night on Sunday when a cow and calf moose decided to visit. I went outside at around 9 pm to check out the reason for the commotion in the kennel and found tracks in close proximity to the dog yard. All the dogs – especially the youngsters, like Jinx, were pointing and screaming, but I didn’t actually see the beast. At 2 am, I headed out into the yard again to see what was going on. I caught the shadows of a cow and calf moose crossing my out trail at the edge of the dog yard, but they seemed to be on the move and I figured that was the last I’d hear from them that night.

Not to be - at 3:30 I found myself trudging half asleep out to the dog yard again. I really wasn’t paying much attention, just heading out to the dogs when I realized they were all barking in my direction – I lifted my head and fully opened my eyes to see Momma Moose no more then 15 feet dead ahead of me. I apologized and backed up to allow her an escape route, which she took. Her calf trotted to her from it’s feeding spot in front of the house. It took some clanging of dog dishes to convince them to move on.

Visits to the yard and more clanging of dog dishes happened again at 6:30 and again at 7:30.
All further evidence to back my belief that the best moose is dead and in a stew.

Jamie West has been busily working on her drop bags for the Serum Run (, which she is participating in starting on February 18th. I’ve been waiting for her to get done with hers (which were dropped off in Anchorage today) before really beginning to clutter up the house with the mess from my drop bags.

I guess I should take a moment to give you all ‘A Guide to the Jamies’ – as there seems to be some generally confusion about Jamie West and Jamie Nelson.

Jamie Nelson is from Minnesota. She is a 4-time winner of the John Beargrease Marathon, a Quest finisher, multiple Iditarod finisher, and winner and finisher of far too many other races to mention. She is my mentor and also one of my closest friends. It is her place in Minnesota that I usually head out to train at for several weeks each fall. Jamie Nelson has a place up here in Alaska (actually just down the road from where we are staying), but usually lives and trains in Kotezbue when she is in the state.
She is signed up for Iditarod this year too.

Jamie West is the gracious lady that has opened up her house to us in Alaska for the last couple years. I ‘met’ Jamie online when she was doing fundraising for Shawn Sidelinger’s ’98 Iditarod. I met her and her husband, Harry in person for the first time at the airport in Anchorage when I came up to buy my first dog from Earl and Natalie Norris. Jamie gave me a place to stay, a vehicle to get around her, and took me on a tour of some of the biggest Siberian kennels in the area. Since then she has continued to be exceptionally generous and kind to both Mark and I.

Jamie West has 20 + dogs – most Siberians, but also some Alaskans. She doesn’t race, but this year is traveling to Nome on the Serum Run (I think she is going to have a BLAST!).

She is one terrific lady and I am very pleased to have her as a friend.

And that is my Reader’s Digest Guide to the Jamies. Probably best if you print it out and keep in on hand when reading my diaries entries – even Mark is always asking ‘Which Jamie?’.

Not much else to report - unless you want to know which family is winning on Family Feud or how Judge Judy ruled in her cases today.

Watch for my Copper Basin diary entry in the next few days!

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