Sunday, 4 March 2012

I Didn't Get Here Alone

My iPod will be loaded with alot of different genres of music when I head for Nome today.  There is alot of Adele, some Waylon Jennings, bunch of Hobo Jim, some Kelly Clarkson, Brad Paisley, Bruno Mars, Black Eyed Peas, Maroon 5, Zac Brown Band and much, much more...but the song that is stuck in my head right now is this Kenny Chesney one - I Didn't Get Here Alone

Today when the timer says '10', all handlers will let go of the sled and step away from the dogs. When they say "Go", everything is released and it becomes me alone that will pilot this amazing group of 16 dogs across through the wilderness of Alaska.....but not really.

On my runners are all of you that watch, read, send money, send supplies, and send love. I feel and appreciate your presence every mile of the way.

The list of you that do those things has become downright humbling. Every time I look at it, which is often, I am amazed and grateful.

I hope that in sharing the stories and adventures as best I can, I can somewhat give back to all of you!

At the end of this post I will attempt to list all our sponsors and supporters. I hope I don't miss any of you, but if I do, please realize it is the mistake of an over active, under rested pre Iditarod musher's brain....not a mistake of my heart.

I also need to mention a few really special folks....first the 'Musher Minions'. They are beyond amazing and likely responsible for me keeping a shred of two of my sanity.
Heather Walls, Donna Quante, Helen Thorgalsen, Karen Ernest, Donna Finner, Kim Berg, Kelly Berg and Kathryn guys ROCK.

I did leave the name of one Minion out, that is because she deserves an extra special thank you. Penny Blankenship is not only an AMAZING Minion.....she is Bet's 'alter blogging ego' (one day Penny you and that wonderful little freak are going to have to actually meet!!!). I can never say 'thank you' enough, my friend!!

There are also 2 men that need to be singled out - first off is Richard.

Many think that Richard is just super lucky to be working with us the last few years and to be up in Alaska helping out this winter. The truth is I'm the lucky one to have him on board.

Richard works his butt off for the dogs and I.  While a few of the things he does are indeed 'glamorous' and fun - lots of it is thankless, sleepless, back breaking work.

I dump tons on him, I cry on his shoulder, I get pissed at him for no good reason and I often forget that he too needs to sleep.

He NEVER complains or tells me to go jump in a lake. I would.

Each time I introduce him to folks this winter I struggle to explain 'who' and 'what' his relationship to me is. He quit being a 'handler' a long time ago.

He is just 'Richard' - and I am so grateful.

The last thanks goes to my husband.

Many are not aware that Mark headed back to the kennel the third week in January and due to some things going on at home did not come back for the start of Iditarod as originally planned.

Yesterday as I was stepping on my sled to head up to the line for the Ceremonial Start my phone rang. I muttered out loud about who would be phoning me at this time - it was my hubby calling from work to see 'what I was up to'.

His absence as been sorely felt. For nine Iditarods I relied on him as a 'logistics coordinator'.  Just how good he was at the job became very apparent this winter when I had to be responsible for all that on my own.

Being married to me is far from an easy job. Mushers, especially Iditarod mushers are a selfish, self absorbed lot.  I know that and I am very appreciative of his tolerance and support.

I miss you Babe and wish you were here.

I could keep writing and thanking ... but the trail is calling.  I'll be out there gathering some new adventures to share with you all when I get back.

I'll try not to step on any of your toes while you ride along with me, but remember there are alot of you on those runners with me!!!

Our 2012 sponsors -

Corporate Sponsors
Eagle Pack
Dr. Marian Siegel of Metropolitan Cat Hospital
Skookum Brand
Dr. Ruth Sims of Kettle River Veterinary Services
Mountain Dog Food
Alpine Outfitters
Nordic Husky Farm
Digital Art Supplies 
Donna and Doug Finner
Lara and Alice Baker
Morna Murray
Harvey and Sylvia Ramstead
Westlock Vet Clinic
Gabriela Husch
Heather Walls and Dan Rehak
Mark and Pat Ellinger
Richard and Sue Trembley

Dog Sponsors
Astro    Pat Ellinger
Bang    Kathy Carmichael
Barq    Friends of HTHNBR
Beauty    Friends of SOS-SRF
Billie    LaRita Skipper (Rita)
Bingo    Mary Atkinson
Boo    Tammy Taylor
Casey    Alice Fitzgerald
Charge    Pat Bach
Crackle    Julie Starling
Crunchie    Dana and Judy Kevelder
Dasher    Cheryl Dawson
Fletch    Bill and Polly Bray
Hector    Lee DesJardins
Herman    Alice and Travis Fitzgerald
Irving    Rachel Toner
Jack    Gwen Ross
Jinx    Kathryn Clark
Joey    Kathryn & Pete Trussell
Kaylinn    Pat Ellinger
Kelly    Deb Bok
Loki    Deb Custer
Meg    Dana Joyner
Mighty    Pat Ellinger
Missy    Marlene Phillips-Daniels
Molly    Pat Ellinger
Moses    Donna Quante
Neo    Heather Clarke
Newt    Diana Miller and Joyce Stegmaier
Odie    LaRita Skipper (Rita)
Olena    Marlene Phillips-Daniels
Pop    Arctis, LLC 
Q    Donna Quante
Rocket    Deb Custer
Rocky    Mary Halvorsen
Roscoe    Diane Shepard / Jackie Phalen
Runner    Maureen Zavodjancik
Ryka    Claire Mardesich
Scud    The Cartoonist
See     Marlene Phillips-Daniels
Skecher    Sue Bain
Smartie    Karen Ernest + Trina
Snap    Heather Walls
Squib    Catherine Mattinson
Tess    Marlene Phillips-Daniels
Teva    Joyce and Bruce Stegmaier
Todd    Joli Jurcak
Top Dog    Barb and Mike Branham
Tramp    A J George
Turtle    Kathryn & Pete Trussell, Frank & Paula Langenstein
Wifi    Barb and Jerry Lake
Wolvie    Brenda Potter
Wonder    Ursula Rempel
X    Janene Corbin ("Sadie")

Happy Feet Sponsors
Elaine Bartholomew
Katholyn Wright
Richard Gallea
Sarah Campbell
Anne Trygstad
Gillian Kirby
Marian Siegel, VMD

Drop Bag Item Sponsors
Lynda Brown
Paulette Jones
Anke Frerichs-Hemp
Mike Antol
Marlene Phillips-Daniels
Shadowlands Canine Training
David Lavsa
Jeffrey and Sherry Gaye
Kay Arnold
Bubbles 'n Bees Soaps & Candles
Karen Stott
Morna (Mom) Murray
Lisa Myers
Kathryn Trussell

Snack Bag Sponsors
Skwentna    Shelly Lewis
Skwentna    Donna Finner
Rainy Pass    Joice Himawan
Rohn    Brittany Wiest
Nikolai    Tara Lemieux
McGrath    Pat Bach
Takotna    Lauri Goforth
Takotna    Amy Young
Ophir    Donna Finner
Ophir    Susan Lavin
Cripple    Marlene Phillips
Ruby    Shelly Lewis
Galena    Kathryn Trussell
Nulato    Skookum
Kaltag    Julianne Campagna
Kaltag    Marlene Phillips
Unalakleet    Deb Bok
Shaktoolik    Brittany Wiest
Koyuk    Sue LeClerc
Koyuk    Deb and Mike Rawaillot
Elim    Donna Finner
White Mountain    Tara Lemieux
Nome     Natalie Velasquez
Nome       JoAnn Solberg

Bet's Buddies
Marlene Phillips-Daniels

Cricket's Crew
Marlene Phillips-Daniels

Tic's Team
Robyn Bultitude

Musher Mark's Angry Birds Rehab
Mark's West Coast Cousin Carol

Bait's Brethren
Mary Carlson

Memorial Sponsors
Heather Walls & Dan Rehak
Karen Ernest
Alice and Travis Fitzgerald
Tammy Taylor

Special Thanks to
Mary Uhlir
The Musher Minions
My husband Mark
Richard Todd
Sarah Campbell
Brittany Wiest
Donna Quante
The most wonderful Border Collie in the entire world: Bet
The Pretty Sled Dogs
All of my fans and supporters

I love you all!!!


Anonymous said...

Beautiful Blog Today Karen, have a wonderful trip.

The Retirees Mandy and Jovo Ross and their mom JoAnn Solberg

Dragonfly229 said...

Thank YOU, Karen, for sharing your life and your dream with us. Have a wonderful time out there with your best friends doing what you all love to do.

Teanna said...

Wonderful insights! Following the blogs of individual mushers is the best "insider" of all.Wish I was rich enough to support... but thanks for taking us all along for the ride! Good trails, fair winds! My little 3-dog Siberian team and I will be howling for you!

Lori Krug said...

Have a safe run, God Speed. Will be following and sending positive happy thoughts for you on the trail.
Run swift Curly Tails!!!!!!

Lori Krug

Susan in Oklahoma said...

Karen, your blog was such an inspiration. I could see you as you were writing this. Mark is indeed lucky to have you, as I believe you must make his life very interesting. Happy Tails as you begin your journey today, Godspeed as you ride on your beautiful sled with 16 beautiful canines, and be safe. We are ALL with you today and for the next two weeks (or less!)

Polly Bray said...

Thank YOU Karen for allowing us to live vicariously thru you. You Rock! Have a great run!

bakavi said...

And Karen, we all love you and the curly tails back. We wouldn't be here wiithout your drive and dedication.
Easy, happy trails.

Anonymous said...

Praying that this will be your best year yet! Thank you for sharing this great adventure. Safe journey for you and the dogs!

Denise in Illinois

Anonymous said...

WHAT A WONDERFUL BLOG, KAREN! I feel like I should be thanking you for letting me be a part of your fabulour life. I have to live vicariously through you & you make that so easy. Tears filled my eyes as I was reading your words and I felt so much excitement for you & everyone there working with you. I still dream of getting up there to see you run this ultimate race so you better hang in there for many more years...:) You & all the dogs looked amazing & we wish you nothing less than the best ride possible. May the wind always be at your back, may the trails be snowy & smooth & may all of the curly tail angels that have goone over the rainbow be there to guide you safely into Nome!!!
Thanks & many hugs, Sitka's Mom, Lisa Columbus one

ElizabethMC said...

Thank YOU Karen for sharing a part of your life and vision with us. I have enjoyed your tales from the trail and cartoons from said adventures. A special thanks goes out to ALL who have made all of this possible. As I look upon my sleeping furkids, I wonder if they are dreaming they are running alongside your team and cheering them on. My hat will always be off to you Karen and the North Wapiti Crew. All Our Best to you and your team. Be safe and have fun!