Sunday, June 19, 2016

Back Up North!

I will be heading out on Wednesday for a week in the wonderful north 49th. I can hardly wait. Right now the only slight concern is some super hot weather down here which could delay flights out of Phoenix which is my first stop enroute. At midday, no less. Big jets do not do well in very hot weather since the air gets thinner and has much less lift power. But they are now saying 112 instead of 120 at Sky Harbor that day so maybe!! It was 105 here yesterday!

At any rate, I will get there and be in the Wasilla area with maybe a trip up to Willow for the week ending June 30. Willow was the site of the bad fire this time last year but they have done a lot of rebuilding and most of the mushers who were burned out are back in business with new facilities.
As you know if you read this blog much, mushers are never-say-die kind of folks and will not let a few obstacles like losing everything slow them down too much! The community is having a big celebration and get-together this weekend which had I known about ahead of time, I would have adjusted my plans to try to be there. Well, they do not need me to celebrate!

I will attend the annual meeting of the Iditarod Trail Committee next Saturday. Already sent in my ballot to vote for one new person on the board but will be very interested in hearing any new twists on the device rule and the code of conduct issues that have made a lot of news this year so far. I do not think my earlier proposals have gone anywhere; perhaps that is for the best although I am still very much in favor of bigger and more recognition for dog care by the mushers and also acts of sportsmanship. I have learned how the "carrying" issue could have unforeseen consequences so I am rethinking that to some degree although I still feel it is less than 'good mushing' to do it in a big way as was done this past race. Time will tell.

I will be posting from  Alaska if I can. I am not sure how much on-line time I will be able to manage and what kind of internet connection my hostess has in Palmer but at worst I will take notes and a lot of photos and will be posting them when I get back.

I am very excited to be meeting Helen Hegener whose great new book is at my bedside right now and being enjoyed in small doses which is the prefect way to do so. Alaskan Sled Dog Tales is one awesome book. Ms Hegerner has assembled a wide spectrum of wonderful stories about the history of the sled dog and their role in growing Alaska to the modern and active place it now is. She illustrates the book with a fantastic collection of old photographs, documents, magazine covers and post cards from about as long ago as they existed to modern times. This enhances the narrative and meets Alice in Wonderland's dictum that a book without pictures is scarcely worth the bother. I would say Alaskan Sled Dogs Tales is worth 'the bother' regardless, though, and recommend it highly. I think Helen and I will hit it off very well and that will be another high point of my trip.

I will enjoy seeing Bill, my 2015 host, again and his friend Svetla Lerner, who will house me in Palmer this time. Svetla and I met last year. She is an amazing lady herself though not a musher. She grew up on Czechoslovakia and escaped before the Iron Curtain came down. She has led a varied and adventuresome life and I hope to help her put together an autobiography, which we'll at least begin this time. So, with many irons in the fire, I will be working on getting those wrinkles out or branding those critters as the case may be and especially on having a good and educational time!!

BTW, Aliy Zirkle is back on two feet and beginning the therapy efforts to regain her strength and stability before the training season in the fall. One of her older dogs, Chica, who is the mother of Ginger and the other Surfivers that I am so attached to, has retired to a pet home in Anchorage and been added to the special honor roll of SPK dogs, a short but growing list of stellar sled dogs no longer running. I won't be going that far this trip but certainly look forward to another visit to SPK in time. This time I may get to Deedee Jonrowe's and possibly another kennel or two in the proximity of Wasilla/Palmer.

Anyway, smooth trails to all and I'll catch you at the next checkpoint!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Update on "device" rule.

This one really seems to have upset a lot of mushers and fans, supporters etc. as well. It has the potential to change the character of the race so massively --yes, even more and faster than the concerns I shared earlier--which in view of the bigger issues in the interim have basically gone unnoticed--that hundreds are seriously up in arms about it.

Dallas Seavey has started a petition to ask the Board to change this considerably. As you know I am generally not a Seavey fan but I listened to a video clip from a presentation he did with Wade Marrs, the 2016 fourth place finisher, and what he said was very sensible and the same for Wade.  I try not to ever let personal prejudices stand in the way of facts and reason! I may not like all of Seavey's attitude but I do think he is sincere in wanting the race to stay 'honest' and as close to the original intent as is possible in this day and age. His personal methods do not impinge on this, really. He is now at least talking "it's all about the dogs," Perhaps in some round-about ways he got a message of sorts.
Here is a link to the petition. Sincere fans may sign if I read it right so anyone here who wants to add their name is welcome to do so. The opportunity for "cheating" and giving some mushers a huge advantage over others through "coaching" and other assistance and advice is just too huge. The size of a support team one could field depends greatly on funds and one's kennel staff etc. So small and newbie mushers might not beneifit too much in that regard.

Musher safety was what the ITC claimed to have been trying to achieve but it was definitely one of those "unintended consequences" types of efforts and perhaps not thought out as well as it should have been. They have really been in a CYA panic button mode, or so it feels. Copy and paste the text below to see and sign if you wish.


I will be at the meeting--the big annual meeting--on June 25th and it may be very interesting!

As a fun side note, Heelers are not the only pups with oversized ears! One of the past litters at SPK was four the other day and Aliy posted some pictures. This is Chipper at age two and then age four. At two she had ears to match those of our young Heeler, Riata, when she came here at about six months of age!  BTW, this girl is a daughter of Quito and now looks a lot like her mama. I think the ears are more a heritage from daddy Biscuit. Quito's are upright or "pricked" in the term the herding dog folks use but not overly large.