Thursday, 29 November 2007

November 29, 2007 The Old Dog Truck & Chilly Temps!

Read easy, this first story is not about one of the dogs, but Monday morning offered a bit of a 'funeral procession' here. See a couple years back I wrote a diary entry regarding the retirement of our old dog truck, which had seen us through a lot of years and a lot of miles before the fancy new F450 showed up on the scene.

For the last two years or so, the old truck (aka 'the 250') has continued to serve us well. With it's dog boxes now removed it has make many trips to the Perryvale 'Waste Transfer Station' (aka 'The Dump'), hauled thousands of pounds of dog food home from Athabasca, carried bulky kennel supplies like fence posts, materials for dog houses and more.

It's certainly been showing it's age, with creaks, strange noises, the odd weird smell and more - but what old man doesn't??? In the last month, it had had some issues with fan belts, brakes and antifreeze, but it was still carrying on like a good solider.

On Sunday night Mark took it to work as one of the guys he works with was bringing in some bales of straw for us. He had emailed that there was still an issue with antifreeze and he had had to drive the hour to work (at -20 or so) with no heat in the cab.

Monday morning arrived snowy and cold - minus 25 to be exact. At 7am Kathryn and I were out feeding the dogs breakfast and I was expecting Mark to be pulling in the driveway at any time. By 7:30 I was worried. It isn't like Mark to be late coming home and with the issues with the truck and the storm, I decided to play things safe and go looking for him.

As I crested the hill on our driveway, there was Mark and the 250. The truck had indeed broken down - but like the trooper it has always been, it was kind enough to die close enough to our road that Mark could coast off the highway before bringing it to a stop.

He knows better then to leave a vehicle in a storm and was patiently waiting for me to come looking for him (yes, he carries a cell phone, but it doesn't work close to the house).

Later that afternoon, after Mark woke up from sleeping, we headed up the hill with the van and a tow road expecting to have to drag our old friend home. That was not to be though, sputtering and spewing foul smelling smoke it coughed to a start and headed for home. It stalled a few times and clouds of black smoke billowed from it at various moments as it limped the last mile to the yard.

It's parked up by the gates for now. Mark had been crawling around in it a bit in the last few weeks and thinks it is probably done for now, but he will take a look at it again in the spring just to be sure.

Either way with over 320,000 hard kilometres on it through the years, it owes us nothing, but it does feel alittle like losing an old friend.

You might have noticed mention of some chilly temps in that story - honestly, right now, -20 would seem toasty warm. It was -35 this morning and now, at 11am, has warmed up to a 'balmy' -32. That puts training dogs on hold. I ran on Monday at -25 but 4 wheelers just don't work great at those temps. The dogs had a blast and were barking and screaming each time we took a break. I was barking and screaming too, but mostly because I seemed to have forgotten how to dress for that kind of cold and was freezing to death.

Tuesday it was in the -20 range and Mark and I each took a team out. That was definitely more bearable and 4 wheelers, dogs and humans had a good run.

Yesterday it was down in the -30 range and we all wimped out. After feeding the dog's breakfast and a quick trip to Athabasca for some dog food, headed to the city for a movie and dinner.

The movie was 'Into the Wild', which was very interesting. I don't know that I share Sean Penn and Jon Krakaurer's take on Chris McCandless, but it was a visually interesting movie and inspired some good discussion over the dinner table.

Anyway, today we will hang out and work on some chores around the house with a close eye to the thermometer. If it warms up some in the 'heat of the day', I'll definitely be sneaking out the door for a run.

All for now!


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