Saturday, 2 February 2013

Hanging with the Handlers! - Helen & Simone

For everyone that wonders what exactly handlers do for Mushers while they travel to races, run the races, and then travel back from races, here is the exciting adventures of road trip handlers!

The trip to Joseph, Oregon begins!

Simone shares the back seat with a very cranky Roving Border Collie Reporter, who is totally miffed about 1.) not being in the passenger seat where she belongs, and 2.) sharing a back seat with anyone, especially handlers who don't share their blanket and pillow... the nerve of Simone!

We are all smiles!
Thanks to the many, many... did I mention many Timmy's along the route. 

We stopped on the side of the road at Turtle Mountain, it was a great time to stretch our legs and take some pictures. We like to take pictures!!

We are also responsible for hefting the dogs out of their boxes, checking them over, making their meals, falling over things for their entertainment, and taking more pictures of the beautiful scenery.

A drop at night is always fun!
Yes, the big light is helpful, but the big light doesn't shine everywhere, so you have to make dinner in the dark, and also be careful counting Pretty Curly Tails to make sure everyone is out, then back in.

Fortunately they take coffee seriously in Moscow, Idaho and we were able to do a drive-up at Retro Espresso!  It is also mandatory that you Facebook your every move and send pictures and road trip information back to the Cartoonist so she can upload Bet's reports... or else the Border Collie gets even more cranky... if there is such a thing.

The view from the backseat!
Of course, once the team arrives, it's all about getting the dogs settled, fed, walked and stretched out, massages, and finding out where the living arrangements are, the race start is, times for the race, vet checks, organizing the Musher, preparing for the race, making sure the Musher has everything, and then jumpstarting the Musher with some coffee.  This leaves very little time before the race to do much of anything sightseey or touristy.

OK, down to business...let's get this team on the trail...we have other things to do!
The biggest part of the race is getting the dogs safely to the chute, making sure everything is ready, that nothing is forgotten, and that the team is sent off in a professional manner... of course, the moment they start running, it's pretty much get out of the way.

3, 2, 1, and they are off!
You will notice that after letting go of the lead dogs, Helen still stands precariously close to them as they race by.  Since she isn't Briffany, the chances of them running her over are slim, but you never know when they may get an urge to flatten fresh, new Handlers.

A high five with Helen as she is on her way!
After all of the excitement, running around, prepping, worrying, making sure everything is perfect and ready....

Hm, not much left for the handlers to do with Karen and the team on the trail!
As soon as the team is out of sight... it's like a huge wave of "well, now what do we do" boredom sets in.  In larger races there may be more than 2 dogs that don't get to go out with the team, but after handling 18-20, the small amount left over is child's play.  Of course there were the throngs of people lining up for Bet's pawtograph and pictures with Bet, and book deals about Bet, and Vogue fashion shoot requests for Bet (Bet made us write that), but other than that...

Tramp and Simone are loving the play time!
After sending tons of photos back to the Cartoonist, along with Bet's daily report for publication, the Wallowa Lake Resorts had all sorts of cool activities like snowshoe hiking, and with two very energetic Sled Dogs that could use some exercise, we took off for some scenic hiking.

Helen and Q are having fun too!
Of course, it probably would have been both better and then probably more tragic had we gone skijorring, as the trails were wonderful, but at times a little narrow and close to very steep cliffs of dooooom.  A little too dicey to be hooked to powerful Iditarod dogs.

Finally time for some shopping!!
The town had some very cool places for shopping and browsing around.  We were unable to locate any fashionable ensembles for Bet (for which she pouted for three hours)

Excuse me, but does this stuffed cougar make my butt look fat?
Pretty much everything you would need in one store, especially if you were running low on taxidermied animals.

Glad we got here before Sunday!
Pretty laid back, relaxed home town feel to the place.  They certainly have their priorities straight as far as we were concerned.  Of course had we arrived on Sunday we would have different views.

Simone is a long way from home in Switzerland!
Tramp tried to convince Simone that she could most certainly pull her all the way back to Switzerland.

Tramp is exploring too!
Hey, look!  It's water!  Look at the water!  Did you know that water comes from the sky and is comprised of... oh, you've heard that already... what about snow, did you know that snow... what, I already told you that?  Yeah, Tramp wouldn't shut up the entire time.

It is hard work for Bet....
Meanwhile, back in the Border Collie Reporting Mobile Nerve Center, we couldn't get her away from the fireplace.  Didn't want to snowshoe (well, that's probably because Tramp was going), and didn't want to go shopping (if you can believe that).  She was exhausting from drafting her reports, and pining for her Musher... that and she would pace back and forth between rooms because she was mad that we weren't all in one room, and the Border Collie must herd her people into the same room and how DARE YOU not comply.

fortunately the love seat is just the right size!
When we left, Bet tried to sneak the loveseat onto the back of the truck because she wanted it as a cloud... not that her new cloud isn't nice and all, but... come on, this couch is Bet sized!

Our fabulous cabin at Wallowa Lake Resort
The accommodations were very nice, cozy, and like a home away from home.

And then we got word they were cutting the race short.....and here comes Karen!
Because of the trail conditions, the race was cut short by 50 miles.  After the relaxing and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and listening to the Ham radio operators, and going to check on race stats, once again it was the hurry up in the hurry up and wait of a Handler's life.  

We have to be there before the Musher arrived to prepare for their arrival, which means more waiting, then take care of the dogs, check them out, make sure they get something to eat, get them out of their harnesses, load them into the truck, take them back to the cottage, then get them out again and prepare them for the night.  

Plus we're there to listen to the Musher talk about the race, the trail, the trials and tribulations, how she set her pants on fire (the Cartoonist made us type that).

The food was awesome at the Musher's Banquet and Karen gave a wonderful speech!
The banquet was great, awesome food, listening to the stories of the trail, and having a good time with people who love the sport and the dogs.

A stop in Enterprise for breakfast before it is time to get back on the road!
Once again, before getting back on the road, making sure all of the dogs are fed and ok, packing up everything and making sure you did pack everything and didn't leave it behind.

A great place to stop for photos!

Photos and a dog drop as we are crossing the Canadian Rockies into Alberta.

Please note: Simone did not fall off of these sculptures

How cool is this?

Simone took awesome pictures from the window of the truck!

Karen was so patient with us as we stopped often for lots of pictures!

One last drop before our last big push for NW Kennel!

It was a great trip, we had lots of fun and took many pictures!!

- Simone & Helen

1 comment:

Pat & Mark from MN now on St Barth said...

Thanks for the great report and photos.