Monday, 3 September 2012

Tales of the Trail 2012 - Wayward D. GPS Guest Post

Hello all of you North Wapiti fans!

My name is Wayward D. GPS, but you can call me Wayward!

I know that some of you got to know me during the Iditarod through the Facebook page I created using my Satellite uplink feature, but there are some of you who don't have Facebook accounts and had no idea of my situation!  I put in a request form with IonEarth (my manufacturer) to add a blogging capability, but they haven't returned my calls in a while for some reason.

So, you're probably wondering all about me.  Well, as I said before, I was made by IonEarth, then went through a rigorous screening process so they could figure out what purpose I would be good for.  I took a lot of tests and scored pretty high in the geospatial components and thought I was well on my way to NASA to do some really cool sub-orbital work with some of the high tech outer space platforms, but my friend, Harry, said that until we got our final placements, wouldn't it be cool to do the Iditarod.

Well, I had NO idea what the Iditarod was.  I thought it had something to do with those jet propelled cars they race out on the salt flats to get speed records.  Nice, hot salt flats.  Racing at really high speeds.  Sounded great to me, so I had Harry sign us up.

Um, yeah, I guess I should have Googled that, because they next thing I know, I'm in some tiny little airplane getting bumped all over in my special case and landing in what had to be the THE COLDEST PLACE IN THE WORLD!  Don't get me started about all of that snow.

I have no idea where Harry ended up, but I got assigned to #57 - Karen Ramstead and her Pretty Sled Dogs.  They sure were pretty!  Best looking sled dogs of the bunch, and I really liked their matching ensembles, whoever picked those out, good job.

Here I am on the front of the sled.  I must say that I got an interesting view of the race from this vantage point.  Normally we're shoved in a chassis or in the bowels of some machinery, so being on the outside to see everything was unique and exciting... and cold, and did I mention it was cold?  REALLY cold, and the "stuff" from the dogs would get kicked up on me and that wasn't nice.

Speaking of views, I pretty much got to see everything, and when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING.  I can vouch for Wifi being the daddy of the Boo Who litter, although I did think that Boo and I had a little sumpin sumpin going on there for a while.  She's very sweet but a bit demanding, so I knew it wouldn't last.

I did think it was a bit insufficient to screw me into the front of the sled with simple #2 Phillips screws.  I mean come on, I'm a REALLY expensive piece of electronics here, and all I got was some straps and #2 Phillips screws?  I know the Iditarod is suppose to signify the conditions back in the olden days of the serum run, but even back then they had better things to secure things onto a sled.

The ride up until we hit the Norton Sound crossing was really bumpy and tough (and cold), and I kept asking the checkpoint people to check my insufficient screws while they were doing their sled checks, but who wants to take their mittens off in that cold to tighten a screw... can't really blame them actually... if I had hands I probably wouldn't have done it either.  I held on as tight as I could, really I did, but that last bump on the ice jarred me loose and the next thing you know... I'm bouncing on the ice watching the sled pull away!

Wow, that's a really scary feeling.  I was all alone in the middle of NOWHERE at Latitude: N 64°47.618' Longitude: W 161°6.051'

Normally I can communicate back with GPS-Central to send them my diagnostics and tracking information, but either someone (I'm talking about you James!) was sleeping on the job, but I think when I fell off the sled and bounced on that hard ice my transceiver was damaged.  I was able to tune in some pretty good satellite radio stations and connect to Facebook, so I listened to some jamming music and sent out a few posts to see if I could get someone to rely a message for me.

Since it was really dark out, I figured that I'd shut down until morning to conserve my battery power.  In the morning my autoconfig file started me back up, I activated my onboard cam and


Stupid bear gnawed on me a bit then left me alone when I played dead.  Next year they need to pack bear spray and add some bells on us, we're totally defenseless out there!

Before long I heard some other mushers and dogs approaching and I thought... this is it, they'll see me out here and grab me, take me to the next checkpoint.  I'm sure after the rough crossing the Pretty Sled Dogs will be there resting, I'll get hooked up and no harm, no foul... NOT. 

Speaking of things to add, I would like to point out that I did come with a flashing red light to help locate me in case... oh, I don't know... I FELL OFF THE SLED, but some Iditarod Musher was distracted by it and put some tape over it.  Yeah... nice... seriously, thanks!

So there I am, this white block of electronics, red light beacon covered over by tape, sitting out the middle of THIS

I have another memo out for the production crew for the next version of sled dog GPS units like my friend Josephine:

I mean, really?  Would it cost too much to invest in some neon pink paint and get a flag?  Really?  I mean come on, they were finding MITTENS out there!  MITTENS!!!!  How about you make us look like a flipping mitten then????

The other mushers just merrily trotted right on by me.  Not even a glance over at me, just kept right on moving... well, one of the dogs did pee on me, which was nice and warm, but come on!  I was RIGHT THERE!

Dan Seavey actually camped out pretty close to me.  I kept trying to situate myself so that the wind would blow me over to him, and he meandered around, I swear he was looking for me, but apparently he was just looking for a good ice fishing spot or something.  Nice, great, lovely.

You would think they would have dispatched one of those snow machine things to come get me.  I know my processors aren't exact, but come on...

Right there... sitting RIGHT THERE, not hard really.  All that technology gone to waste pretty much.

By the next morning I was getting a bit desperate... for some reason my hard drive had an endless loop of that stupid Macarena song over and over and over and over, and then I started hallucinating

Hey, I remember that place....


That is a big ball of twine...

I tried to ask on Facebook if anyone was looking for me, but I could only post, not read... I did find out that some kind soul did this for me

I was pretty sure I was going to be stuck on the ice forever... well, until the ice melted and then I would sink to the bottom of Norton Sound... sniff.

- Wayward


blackdeer said...

Sniff is right, Wayward. This story brings the whole experience back... the highs, the lows, the fear, the angst... So glad you lived to tell about it.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Love it :-D