Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Musings

While all sorts of things have been happening out in The World, I've been sequestered here at my job site, keeping plenty busy on behalf of my employer.  None of those busy-making tasks can be discussed, however.

What CAN be discussed are some of the fun things that have been going on outside the confines of my remote industrial job site.  For example, since I came into work my friend Aliy Zirkle and her sled dog team had a rough time getting across the Kaltag Portage, where soft, sugary snow slowed her pace and tired her and her dogs considerably.  While recovering from that ordeal, Dallas Seaveyís team trotted right past and the young musher never looked back.  Dallas won this yearís Iditarod by arriving in Nome almost exactly 1 hour behind Aliy. 

This year's 'Top-10' list includes:

Dallas Seavey
Aliy Zirkle
Ramy Smith
Aaron Burmeister
Peter Kaiser
Ray Redington Jr.
Mitch Seavey
Michael Williams Jr.
John Baker
DeeDee Jonrowe

It's noteworthy that only 2 of the top-10 were previous Iditarod champions, John Baker and Mitch Seavey. 

Waves of Iditarod mushers have been finishing the race throughout the week and thus far only about 20% of those who started either scratched or were withdrawn from the race.  Danny Seavey, Dallas' grandfather and Mitch's father, arrived in Nome today, forty years after racing in the very first Iditarod.  Bob Clupatch and Jan Steves are both currently in White Mountain, so they will miss the banquet but will likely arrive in Nome some time tomorrow, thus ending the 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The Iditarod isní\'t the only race in Alaska, it's just the most widely known.  While I'm slaving away, earning money for dog food, I'm missing out on the Two Rivers 100 and Two Rivers 200 sled dog races.  The 200 mile race is a qualifier event for both the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest, so it frequently attracts some pretty talented albeit not widely known mushers.

This year's Two Rivers 200 was won by Judy Currier, followed by Heidi Sutter, Sue Ellis, Greg Stoddard and Cody Strathe.  The Two Rivers 100 was won by Jason Weitzel with Sarah Love taking 2nd place and Joel Switzer coming in third. 

This weekend the Alaska Dog Mushers Association is also running the 2012 Open North American Championship.  After two days of running, Arleigh Reynolds currently holds first place, followed by multiple ONAC champion Egil Ellis.  Ken Chezik is running third and Greg Taylor of Fairbanks is in fourth.  The ONAC is the oldest continuously run sprint sled dogs race in Alaska. 

Work-related Training Season to Start Soon:

Winter is hanging in rather nicely this year, thanks to unusually cool temperatures thus far this month.  Of course the big dump of snow we had early in the month didn't hurt anything.  That's a good thing, as my spring training season for work-related training will be starting next R&R.  Although I'll be off-duty on Tuesday March 27th, I'll be turning right around to fly to Anchorage for a 1-day clinical rotation at the Alaska Regional Native Medical Center followed by three days in the classroom to renew my certification in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and International Trauma Life Support (ITLS - formerly PTLS) along with a day addressing issues specific to our own working environment. 

In early May I'll be doing my annual security training, work my regularly scheduled 2 weeks, and then spend a week in Central Kentucky for a clinical rotation with the Georgetown Scott-County EMS.  I donít have any additional training scheduled for June through August, but in September Iíll need to do another week-long clinical rotation followed by some more class-room work in October.  Other than classes done while on-duty, those should pretty much fulfill my training obligations for the year, leaving nearly all of my winter R&R time free for working with the dogs.

With any luck at all, we will still have some decent trail conditions when I return from Anchorage, providing some opportunities to do some more training runs.  During these early April runs, nearly every dog in the kennel needs to have an opportunity to run in the lead position.  Dogs mature at different rates and sometimes a dog that did not perform particularly well in lead at a young age will change his or her mind, and become an excellent leader later in life.  The only way to know is to give each a dog a chance to strut his or her stuff at the front of the team.

By the time I head home from my April tour of duty I'm pretty sure we'll be in the midst of break-up.  Although many Alaskans look forward to the season, break-up is my least favorite time of year.  I'm not a big fan of slush and mud and muck, all of which break-up provides in spades.  As the snow is melting there is only a certain amount of work I can do to prepare for summer projects.  Many of the projects I have in mind for this summer require breaking ground ñ which really canít be done with any degree of practicality until the ground has thawed, generally in early to mid June. 

Though Iím not really looking forward to break-up, Iím very much looking forward to doing some of those projects.  If things work out as planned Iíll have a larger dog yard with more shade for the dogs, is easier to maintain and offers more room for dogs to play run-amok.  I also hope to create a way to protect the little tractor and some other equipment from winter elements. 

Thatís all well and good for planning ahead, but for now I need to return to my work related duties.  Iíll try to keep the blog posts as life progresses and then weíll all just have to see what happens next.

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