Sunday, July 19, 2009

The 2009 Red Lantern Club Party

Edie Forrest, Randy Dunbar, Lynn Orbison, and the Thompson family frequently train dogs together from the start of "fall training" through about mid-winter, sharing equipment and even dogs. Usually in December we end up going our own ways as snow allows us to access the trails from our own kennels or we accommodate training needs unique to our individual mushing disciplines and goals. We sometimes call our training group the "Red Lantern Club" because we frequently win red lanterns, the traditional award given to the last musher to finish a race.

Last year we started what we hope will be a long standing tradition, by throwing a party as an excuse to get together during summer. Edie and her husband Don hosted this years get-together on the deck of their home and pulled out all the stops. Edie decorated the table with the important red lantern centerpiece. Don grilled burgers, hot dogs and brats, and we all pigged out on veggies and dip, chips, and all the trimmings. We enjoyed a delightful desert of strawberry shortcake served with cherry chocolate chip ice cream.

The food was good, but the company is the highlight of the party. In addition to the "regulars" we had Clark, a former dog musher who now lives in Arizona and is visiting his old haunts, and Tammy - a teacher from the bush who is getting a good start in the sport. Of course such a party centers on the conversation and tales of past adventures, future plans and the current state of the canine world.

Kennel Gates Unhinged

Good fences may make good neighbors, but bad gates will drive you nuts. The issue I've had with the gates in the perimeter fence around my kennel is that snow tends to pile up around them, making them at least inconvenience and sometimes all but impossible to use. I don't like shoveling snow any more than the next guy, so I've been trying to come up with a way to alleviate the problem.

I built my gates to be very lightweight, with frames of PVC pipe and hung on a pintle/gudgeon system that makes them easy to remove. That made it easier to shovel snow out of the way most of the time, but wasn't quite an ideal solution.

In my mind, the ideal solution would be a hinging system that would allow the height of the gate to be easily adjusted to accommodate the depth of packed snow. I think I might have finally gotten in right.

It is still technically a pintle/gudgeon system, but now the pintle is a 3/4" post not quite as long as the gate is tall driven into the ground.

The gudgeon is the gate's 1" PVC frame. A "T" fitting allows me to slide the gate down over the pintle, creating a hidden, full-length "hinge" on which the gate can swing.

As the snow deepens I can just lift the gate on the post until it's clear of the snowpack, and swing it open as originally intended.

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