Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Short R&R

I got home from work yesterday.  Yes, I really do have to refer to it as "work" now, as our expanded job description does require signficant effort to keep pace with the job.  It's not so horrendous as some of my co-workers led me to believe, but neither is in innocuous.  Because of the nature of my job I'm not at liberty to share any details, but trust me, I use the term "work" intentionally.

I only have 1 week off this time around, part of the process of "flipping" the schedule so the opposite crew can have holidays off this year.  Wouldn't you know it, I got home in the midst of the deepest cold snap of the season, and it feels like I'm trying to come down with a cold to boot.  Oh well, I'm sure I'll persevere.

Once home, I had a devil of time getting my dog truck to start and run.  Diesel engines really don't start well in cold weather, and the truck had been sitting for a full week.  I plugged in the engine heaters as soon as I got home, and tried to start the machine 2 hours later but the batteries didn't have enough power to turn it over fast enough.  At that point I put a propane fired 'torpedo' heater under the truck until it ran out of fuel, about 45 minutes.  The truck still didn't want to start and it took another 1/2 hour with the battery charger to get enough juice flowing to turn it over and fire it up.  Consequently it was relatively late before I got the dogs home, fed and settled.

Usually on my first day home I head over to the lodge for supper, but last night I couldn't muster the energy.  I took some cold medicine, made myself a sandwich and heated some soup, and called it "supper". 

The Copper Basin 300 sled dog race was last weekend, and it turned into a real nail-biter toward the end.  Jeff King left the last checkpoint only 2 minutes ahead of 3-time champion Allen Moore.  Jeff pulled into the finish line seven minutes ahead.  I haven't heard any details yet, but rumor has it that Allen had a big tangle in his team coming out of Glennallen, which cost him several minutes that he couldn't afford to spend. 

My friends at the SP Kennel had three teams in the race.  Rather than award the humanitarian award for best dog care to an individual, the race vets decided to award it to the SP Kennel instead, for consistent excellent in dog care among all 3 mushers representing the kennel.  Now THAT is cool. 

I visited with Karen and Mark Ramstead for a bit this morning.  They are in Two Rivers training and preparing for this year's Iditarod.  Both Karen and Mark ended up scratching in the CB300.  Karen had some musher-related issues that concerned her, and Mark had difficulties with his team, which consisted of "the old, the young, and estrus and the missing."  He started with only 11 dogs, and with a bitch in standing heat was finding it nearly impossible to keep his team moving.  He chose to scratch rather than inconvenience race volunteers waiting (and waiting and waiting) at checkpoints for him to arrive. 

With no new snow in well over a month, the trails are deteriorating signifcantly.  The good sections are icy, hard packed and fast and the bad sections are rough, rugged and potentially hazardous.  Today while I was out and about being 'social' I saw a musher training a nice sized team still on a four-wheeler.  FOUR-WHEELER?!?  IN THE MIDDLE OF JANUARY?!?  That's just nuts.  I don't see any signs of major improvement in the weather forecast, either.

There isn't much else for news, so I'm going to drink some juice and kick back for a bit until it's time to feed the team.  I'll add more as I encounter more to add.


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