Sunday 4 April 2004

April 4, 2004 Homecoming

I picked up a People magazine in Watson Lake, BC to read on the drive home. Item 8 down on the Crossword puzzle was; "Alaskan city where the Iditarod race ends". It's 4 letters and starts with a 'N'. Any ideas??? Impossible to believe that just 10 days ago I was still in Nome.

Well, we are back home now. The drive was delightfully uneventful. We even found a nice little grocery store in Watson Lake that had good produce and a nice bakery! My views on the town are looking a little up now! With a nice tail wind blowing the dog truck home and no 'Y'Haul', we made great time and spent Tuesday night with our friends Scott and Denise Linley in Farmington, B.C, rather then Fort Nelson. Denise is the artist that has done all the limited edition fundraising prints for me. What a touching surprise when I walked into her kitchen and found a spectacular oil painting of Orion propped up on the table. She tells me she still has some finishing touches to put on it, so I couldn't take it home quite yet, but I can't wait. She captured him so perfectly in the painting; it brought tears to my eyes.

Being ahead of schedule meant that we arrived home in the daylight instead of late at night. What a treat. The reaction of all the dogs was wonderful. The Iditarod dogs were crazed to get back in the yard and to their houses - the dogs in the yard were nuts to say "Hi' to Mark and I and very excited by the arrival of the Iditarod team. Many stories to share, I'm sure. The only dog not nuts with excitement was our new addition, Westrunner's Atigun Pass. Atigun is a young (5 month old) male pup that I picked up from Jamie West while I was in Alaska. Jamie and I have been talking about this since he was born, but in the end it was hard for her to part with the boy and I wasn't sure he was coming home with us until the day we left. Atigun was a perfect gentleman on the drive home, but our big dog yard barking and screaming at the top of their lungs was very intimidating for him when we arrived. Fly took him under his 'wing' immediately. In fact, it was really interesting that when the dog truck stopped in the yard Fly circled it once and then bee lined for Atigun's box, put his paws up and began to sniff. Remember, Fly hadn't seen the 'A' team in 3 months, but he had no trouble picking out the one dog he had never met before. It took a few hours, but Atigun is completely comfortable in the yard now!
All the dogs that remained at home look great. The puppies are no longer puppies - big, long legged lovely creatures now!

Chip practically ran over top of Mark to say "Hi' to me - my big, fuzzy buddy obviously feels the same way about me as I do about him - even though I've been away from him for almost half of his life!
Kaylinn was beside herself to have us home. She rubbed and rubbed against me, all the while giving that silly grin she gives. The entire yard was frantic for pets and scratches.

The 'A' team quickly settled back into the yard. Squeaky ran big, full speed circles trying to pack down the deep snow in his area, Grover sprawled across the top of his dog house, Crunchie immediately started a wrestling match with his next door neighbor (his brother Skor).. their delight at being HOME was obvious.

My delight was marred by one event that evening and that was when we were feeding that night. Most of the dogs went back to the houses they had before we left, however a few exceptions were made, but still when I walked to Orion and Kobuk's old areas and there were different dogs there, the loss of the two of them hit me all over again. It was hard to be sad for long though, with all the other dogs longing to touch and be touched.

After getting the dogs settled in, it was wonderful to walk into our house. Our 'dog/house' sitter, Barb had vases of flowers scattered around, a balloon bouquet that said 'Congratulations' and 'We missed you', chocolates, and food in the fridge (including a bottle of cider and strawberries!). What a treat! In about an hour we had filled the spotless house with suitcases of dirty clothes and piles of stuff from our trip, but it was great to have it all clean and lovely when we walked in!

Now it is back to the business of settle back into our lives. Luckily the frozen pipes to the garage had thawed in the warm spring temperatures and we were able to rid the house of buckets of thawing meat. The Suburban didn't enjoy its 6 weeks of time off and was towed into the dealership yesterday, leaving a huge puddle of oil on the driveway to mark where it sat. Mark's car decided today that it wanted attention of it's own and we are now sharing the dog truck as our sole means of transportation. Mark started work again on Friday. He says nothing much changed in the 6 weeks he was gone. I'm busy leash breaking Q, Chip, Buzz, Eeek (oh my, he is a beautiful dog), Jinx, Dare, Spidey, and Rory in preparation for moving them out onto chains. There still is snow, but it is patchy, rutted, and rotten so I won't be able to run dogs on sleds anymore. In fact, I'm stuck waiting until it melts some more before I can even get a team out with a 4 wheeler.

I'm hoping to find time between loads of wash today to start on my Iditarod stories for the website, but no promises! There is still a lot of settling in to be done!

All for now!