First I'll apologize for getting behind on my Blog. In my own defense I can only say it has been crazy busy around here.
I stopped in town on my way home from my place of employment to do some grocery shopping, and then grabbed a much needed nap before getting out and about. I picked up my truck from Snow Valley Equipment Repair and am very pleased with the work Frank did on it. I'd recommend his services to anyone, anytime.
Wednesday early we were at Lynn Orbison's place, ready to run dogs. We set up a 10-dog gang line on the four wheeler and started hookin' 'em up. We had a GREAT run. We did only four miles, but with the dogs pulling against the compression of the four machine engine it is a four mile workout compared to when they are pulling against less resistance.
The best news from that run is we put Rose's brother Nels up in lead for a while, and he did GREAT. Both of those Hedlund/Forsberg yearlings seem to be natural leaders and so long as I'm careful and don't burn them out I think they will represent a very bright future for the Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs team.
Following our run Lynn had an appointment in town. I knew Edie Forrest would be bringing her team over to train, so took my kids to the house and then returned just in time for Edie's arrival. She planned to run a team of older (slower) dogs, so I brought my Chinook, my big (slow) St. Bernard mix over to run. Even though he's no longer on the sled team it's important to me and to him that he still works out and has a job to do. He loved running with Edie's dogs and actually kept up a pretty fast pace for a good long time.
One I got back to the house I had just enough time to feed the team, shave and then head into town to visit with Kylle Belleque. Kyle is the musher from Dillingham who gave me Rose and Nels last year. He was in Fairbanks for business meetings, and we took the opportunity to meet in person. It was a wonderful dinner and visit. Kyle is a young, family guy maintaining a fading tradition in that region. He had some great news to share (you'll have to follow his blog at http://nushagakkennels.blogspot.com/ to learn what it is) and we compared notes well into the evening. Kyle is training his dogs to race the Kuskokwim 300, and discussing the different conditions in which we run and hearing of some the unique challenges that Kyle faces while training dogs in his village compared to the vast interconnected trail system we enjoy in Two Rivers was a real treat. Thanks again, Kyle. I had a great time and really enjoyed our visit. We'll do it again someday.
Wednesday was a good day - but Thursday SUCKED. Mostly it was a bad machine day. I got all my dogs loaded in the truck ready to head to Lynn's place to run, and noticed a low tire. That meant I had to start up the air compressor, drag out the hose, fill the tire, roll up the hose, shut down the compressor, drain the tank so that water doesn't accumulate, and finally get on the road. When I got to Lynn's house she already had the gang line attached to the machine. She had an appointment so we needed to move along and run her sprint dogs so she could make it. Well, that damned machine refused to start. It refused to even sputter, let alone run. The clock was ticking so we decided to hook up the dogs and let them drag the machine in neutral.
That was fine for a while, but she has a dog that HATES to go slow. His response if frequently to grab the lines and jerk them backwards which of course disrupts the other dogs terribly. Meanwhile one of her leaders was having not fun at all and kept trying to turn off onto side trails heading back to the house. That wouldn't work because there was not way those eight little dogs could drag the heavy machine on unpacked trails - dogs were frustrated, humans were frustrated, and the whole operation turned into the run from hell.
We finally got back to Lynn's place, she headed off for her appointment and her husband, Rich worked on the machine while I put dogs away. Rich is an A&P mechanic for a regional airline and he had the darned thing figured out and running perfectly in very short order.
Meanwhile though, I was tired, grumpy and had a bad feeling about the series of mechanical misadventures. It was as though the spirits were warning me to not run my dogs, and I decided to heed the warning. I took them home and decided to do some chores around the house instead.
One of my projects was to fire up my snow machine to break out the trail between my yard and the powerline right of way I use to access the community trails. Yep, you guessed it. I pulled and pulled and pulled and that little old Skidoo Tundra didn't even sputter, let alone start. I was about to quit the whole operation when I found that the "dead man" switch had been activated. I reset it and the machine fired up on the first pull.
But wait - it gets better. After breaking out the trail I was ready to call it a day. I figured I'd enjoy a nice, quiet evening at home. I mixed it feed for the dogs including some chunks of nice salmon. I dished out the grub, and then grabbed tools to scoop poop. I noticed that Daisy (housed with Gump in the free run pen) was kind of dithering around with a piece of fish, not quite sure whether she wanted to eat it or not. She is like "Mikey" in the old television commercials, everytime I give her something unusual she wants to check it out to be sure I'm trying to poison her or something ;). Well, I started scooping when I heard Daisy and Gump get into what seemed like a low level squabble. I didn't even look up while I hollered at them to settle down, which they did.
When I turned to check, Gump had the fish, but was also dripping blood onto the snow. He had a laceration to an eyelid that required an emergency trip to the vet. So much for my nice, quiet evening at home. Dr. Olson agreed to see him after hours and did a wonderful job repairing and closing the wound. Fortunately it didn't puncture the lid and his eye is just fine so there are no worries in that regard.
Yesterday was errand day. My back didn't feel very good after the ordeals of Thursday, but stuff has to be done when it has to be done. I took my truck in to have my studded snow tires mounted for the season, did a bit of shopping. I HATE shopping, especially when it requires several different stops in town. I endured all that and then the fun part - my new sled was waiting for pickup at the Carlile trucking terminal.
I'll write more about the new sled later, as it deserves a more detailed description than I have time to write at the moment. I need to water my dogs, feed myself, and get ready to take them out for another, hopefully uneventful, training run this morning.