Friday, 31 January 2014

And You Thought The Border Collie Was Taking Her Time Blogging!!!

I just checked and it has been THREE weeks since I blogged!!! How bad is that? Not like nothing has been happening! Too much has been happening, in fact!!!
So last reported I was sitting around the kennel in Perryvale watching Bait teach young KD all about the joys of the bathroom.
Since then we have packed up Bet, 23 Curly Tails, Sophie from Australia and myself, and headed up to Alaska.

A tire blew up on the truck around Tok, winter fled from Alaska, I lost a dog team, my computer blew up, we had to head further north in search of trails,  my dog truck tried to run me over, a herd of caribou tried to kill me, the thermostat on the dog truck cratered.....did I miss anything???

No, I think that about covers it. Watch for the next update in February. Thanks for reading!!

Yeah, figured I wasn't getting away with that. 

So yes, first on the list was the explosion of one of the dually tires on the dog truck about 50 miles south of Tok, Alaska. Big, big thanks to the very nice trucker from Lynden Transport and the folks at NorthWay Junction who helped me figure out a strategy to safely get 24 dogs, 2 people and a mound of gear safely to Tok. Sophie can tell you how fun it was to drive at 20mph the 50 miles. Wheeeeeeee.....

Once in Tok we holed up at Fast Eddie's. Awesome place to be stranded. The next morning Willard of Willard's Repairs slid under the truck, announced we needed not 1 but 2 new tires, and set about finding them for us. Five hours and $1000 later we were back on the road.

Late that night we arrived at 'NorthWapiti North' which is at WestRunner Kennels with my dear friends Jamie, Harry, Kip, Ashleigh, Toby, Nick, Romeo and a bunch of sled dogs!!!

During our drive north the conditions in Alaska dramatically changed from good to MISERABLE. Warm temperatures and rain quickly destroyed the trails.

The day after we arrived I took a 7-dog team out to check the trails and lost them while launching. No good story or excuse, I just wasn't giving the team the attention I should have.
Thankfully I recovered them about a 1/4 mile down the trail after the snow hooks caught and held (for the record, that is exactly why I don't secure my hooks to my sled. I've seen all too many sleds careening down a trail with snow hooks tucked nicely in holders over the years.)

I had an okay run after recovering the team, but the trails here were not suitable for training an Iditarod team, in my opinion and a few more days of rain and warmth made them even worse. I began chatting with other mushers and looking for something to train on.

That search eventually led me to the Denali Highway near Cantwell. I've heard talk of the Highway for years, but never been up. Trail conditions are less then ideal, but certainly 'doable' and the dogs and I have enjoyed a number of runs up there in the past week.

There is one 'dicey', at least for me, spot on the trail, and that is a 'humped' over stretch of overflow/ice a mile or so from where the dog trucks park.  To make things worse it is at the bottom of a long hill in both directions and has a bridge in the middle of it. Coming home one day, the dogs were flying along jazzed by sighting a moose and then a small herd of caribou near the top of the downhill section. I was on my brake for everything I was worth to keep things under control when we all spotted a herd of caribou standing on the worst of the icy section.
Caribou panic well when faced with danger but they seem incapable of coming to decisions that would get them out of such situations.
The next few minutes were chaotic. Musher, dogs, sled and caribou all came out of it fine. I'm still really not sure how. It was a WILD RIDE!!!

One of the nights I drove back from Cantwell, I parked the dog truck near the entrance path to my dog lot and began unloading dogs. Scud 'bambied' on the ice when he got out and I moved him behind the truck into the light to check him over. As I was doing that I noticed movement. The dog truck, which was in park, was sliding on the ice towards us. I leapt over the snowbank I was next to, dragging Scud with me a split second before the truck crashed into the bank. Thankfully, no harm was done to the truck but that sure woke me up after a long day!!

It does require a lot of driving and is also a lot of work to manage and maintain 23 dogs alone on the road, but I'm making it work - or at least was until day before yesterday when the engine on the dog truck 'went cold' on the way home. Luckily, we all made it back to Willow and yesterday morning got the dog truck into a diesel repair shop in Wasilla. Looks like an antifreeze hose sprung a significant leak. Part being in stock, I should have the truck back later today!!! My fingers are crossed!!!

And now I think you are all really up to date!!!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Update From Alaska - Bet

Howdy Ho Everybodies, it's your rather late with the deadline scoops Roving Border Collie Reporter, Bet, here!

Whoosh, there's just so much stuffs and things going on, it's awfully hard to find the time of day or night to get things on the bloggity blog.  I'm also trying out bloggity blogging on an iPad because that's what the Musher gave me so that I can bloggity blog and Facebooks on the go... but I'm not used to this interfacey thing.

I have no idea how this bloggity blog post is going to turn out, so please bear with me while we experiment together.

I'm pretty sure that the last time we met, we were stuck with a flat tire and waiting to get a new tire.  We got a new tire, didn't have to off-load everythings and stuffs to dig out the spare, and managed to get to Willow and to North Wapiti Alaska HQ.

We unloaded the truck and got the Pretty Curly Tails all settled in:

It's a LOT warmer here in Willow, Alaska than it was in Canada.  The Cartoonist is complaining that it's colder in stupid Maryland than it is in Willow, Alaska!

On top of that, instead of snow, we're getting RAIN!!!  This will not do because rain makes my furs all floofy and unattractive.  The worst part is that I only brought cold weather ensembles and didn't pack my rain ensembles!

The Musher and Mr. Van Zyle were at the Arctic Rose Gallery on the 24th to meet and greet and sign copies of the "Race Fans" print.

I know a lot of peoples have pre-purchased the print and we assure you that they will be sent out jiffy quick to everybodies.  First the Musher had to get to Alaska, then she had to sign them all and so did Mr. Van Zyle, and now Mr. Van Zyle's printing peoples are putting them in mailing tubes or something and are mailing them out as quickly as possible, so please be patient.

The Musher also met with Mrs. Jona Van Zyle (who is also a famous artist) to unveil the really cool cachet things that will be making the trip to Nome in the Musher's sled bag.

Now, I'm not really in the whole know about cachet things (I actually thought they were little doily things filled with potpourri) but they're actually special envelopes that have stamps or something on them, and they go on special trips and that makes them really special or something.  They're really cool looking... here's a close up:

It's the Musher and Pretty Curly Tails with ravens stealing the Pretty Curly Tail booties!  

How do you get one?  We're still ironing out the details, but I'll have a scoop for you soon, so just stay calm and stay tuned!

Anyooooooooo, after making sure we all got to Alaska safe and sound, Sophia had to fly back to Australia, so she started getting used to the weather by dressing in her typical native flip flops for the ride to the airport

And then it was just us until a certain handler someone arrives around the first week of February... hehehe.

Anyhooooo, so the Musher couldn't really train the Pretty Curly Tails properly without floaties and lifering, so she had this fantabulous idea that we would go to this closed road in Denali (which I thought was in Africa, but hey, what do I know) and that was up in the mountains and probably a lot colder and there would be snow and NOBODY for miles and miles and we'd have nice relaxing training sessions up there...

Um... yeah... so... um... wow... I guess everyone had that same idea.  No matter, it was time to get the Pretty Curly Tails hooked up and out on the wide open trails.

Um... excuse us... training here.

No worries, everybodies is very nice up here and there is snow, and it is colder (but according to the Cartoonist, not as cold as Maryland... she never stops complaining).

Ok, so there's a little sloshy part, but it's better!  Really, it is better, see?

And prettier and pretty peaceful

Ok, so that's the end of my bloggity blogging using the blogger ipad interface.  I guess I'll hit that publish button thingie and see just how well this app worked... or didn't.

- Bet 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

On The Road Day Two and Three or So - Bet

Yes, yes, we are on day three... or is it four... I lost count.

Finding adequate interwebs connectivity on the road is problemmatic, plus typing while the Musher drives makes me do things liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike... that... because of the bumps in the roads and stuffs and things.


The scenery is pretty spectacular and I keep forgetting to take any pictures because I'm all like "OOOOH look at that", and "OOOOOH look at that" and then "OOOOH I forgot to take a picture".  I'm a reporter, not a photographer!

So, it's been all about the driving, driving, dropping dogs for foods and stuffs and things, and driving, and stopping to pee, eating tasty things, driving, driving... and soaking in a big puddle.

Oh yeah, you didn't think that the Musher could pass up a side trip to the relaxing Liard Hot Springs.

Now, I have heard all about the Liard Hot Springs and how relaxing and soothing they were, but I didn't expect them to be all out in the open.  It's like huge pools of hot water... like a bath.  Hmm.  Oooookay.  Oddly enough, dogs weren't allowed in them.  Um... there's all manner of things flying, crawling, and stalking around these pools, what would a little dog fluff matter?  Whatever, I was totally fine with staying in the truck guarding the Pretty Curly Tails when I saw this sign:

Bears?  BEARS???  You want to soak in a hot springs with bears skulking around?  Come ON Musher, it's like you are human stew and the bears probably just wait until you are nice and tender!!!  Throw in some carrots and celery and it's like a crock pot buffet for bears!!!

I made some phone calls and found the perfect anti-bear solution in the form of a bear dog!

 Gussie came with his person Louise Cooke, but that's Sophia bravely holding him.

Gussie is a Karelian Bear Dog and he has his own Facebook page.  I wanted to hire Gussie to guard the Musher and Sophia while they soaked in the stew... I mean hot springs thing.

Apparently Gussie was a bit confused about his job

Gus, I'm not a bear, no Gus, down Gus... MUSHER HELP!
 Yeah, so that didn't work out quite like I planned, so I told Musher and Sophia to just soak a bit and be careful and if a bear approached them... try to pretend you were the bay leaves.... nobody eats the bay leaves in stew.

So they soaked.

Sophia and her best bay leaf impression
Musher bay leaf
Musher!  Stop taunting the bears with toes!  Bears can't resist toes!
It was very pretty there.

And we didn't see any bears or ... people... hmmm


After the big soaking and such, we got back on the road and trundled closer to Alaska.

We passed the famous Watson Lake sign forest

Then as we drove toward Tok... this happened

heaving sigh. of course.

Thankfully a kind passerby took a look and since it's a double wheel (there's another wheel next to it) we nursed it slowly (bonk, clunk, bonk, clunk, bonk, clunk) sloooooowly to Tok... who doesn't have a replacement.

So, here we are in glamorous and beautiful Tok trying to find a tire... anybodies near Tok have a spare tire?

The good news is, there's tasty Fast Eddy's for some foodables here in Tok.

- Bet

Friday, 17 January 2014

On The Road Day One - Bet

Howdy Ho Everybodies!!!!!

We are on the road to Alaska!!!  WOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!

I would have blogged earlier, but in the rush to make sure we had everything and everybodies, and then packing the truck, and convincing KD that there was tasty foods in the house so she wouldn't try to run after the truck like she did the first time we tried to leave

sniff... I already miss my little pet, but she'll be fine under the wonderful care of Bait and Tic... errrm... ummmm... sigh.


First off I must introduce the amazing Sophia Dalidakis!

You may remember Sophia from the Musher's adventures in the Land Down Under (Australia), and the great things she and the Musher (and all of the Australian peoples, well not ALL of them, but the sledding peoples) did while she was over there.

Sophia and the Musher and some stompy horses

Sophia flew alllllll the way from Australia to help the Musher drive to Alaska!  Isn't that neat!!!!!

When Sophia left Australia, it was 30º (Celsius), which equates to about 3,457º Fahrenheit here in the states.  She was a bit unprepared for that initial... temperature variation.

To get her up to speed and acclimated to the cold, the Musher threw her on a sled

And she did very well, didn't run into anything or break anything!

So then we all got busy, busy, busy packing up the truck and gathering our things and making sure we had everything and it was all just a whirlwind of events and stuffs and things.

I made sure I brought along my mobile cloud

A girl has to bring her accessories you know.  I'm a bit upset that the Musher didn't put on my traveling plaid coat or my Ugg booties, which is why I'm not looking at the camera... harumpf!

I would also like to point out that I don't have a cup holder for the many Timmy's and Starbucks stops... hello?

As usual, we stopped to let the Pretty Curly Tails out to stretch and eat.

By now I can just hear you all squee'ing and trying to guess as to who is making the trip with us, so without further ado, I present to you the "2014 Iditarod Alaska Pretty Curly Tails who went with us and may or may not be running the 2014 Iditarod because we won't know until the last minute who makes the cut or not but you'll at least know who is in Alaska with us" list.

In alphabetical order:





















blah, blah, yammer, yammer, yammer





- Bet