Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy The Sled Dog Goes To School

Note: This is an excerpt from my contributions to the SP Kennel Dog Log

School kids and sled dogs - what a combination!

Happy the Sled Dog and Aliy visited Badger Elementary School in North Pole, Alaska one morning this spring. We told stories about the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest and talked about overcoming hardships in order to reach your goals. Of course, we also talked about caring for dogs and how to stay warm in the winter.

Happy and Aliy hope that they are invited to visit many more schools in the future!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Alaska Winter Wrap-Up

I had a fantastic -- amazing! -- time in Alaska. Living through the cold, dark and sometimes brutal winter conditions, bonding with a large pack of truly extraordinary sled dogs and working with exceptional people were all very powerful and highly rewarding experiences for me. From the moment I arrived until the end of the racing season, it was non-stop, fast-paced and intense. I loved it.

When we returned to the Kennel from our Post-Iditarod mushing adventure in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, I was astonished at the transformation. What had been a vast landscape of white, hard-packed snow only a few days before had suddenly become an expanse of boggy ground and muddy roads. The dogs were quite happy to be laying out in the sun on top of their houses, but for us humans it was a struggle to just walk around and downright treacherous to drive. Nature had once again given me a very clear signal: My "winter expedition" was over and it was time to move on.

I spent a few days wrapping up odds and ends, packing up my gear, closing up my cozy cabin and saying goodbye to all my human friends in Two Rivers. I had intended to go through the dog yard and give each of my canine friends a farewell hug, but by the time I had visited with Teddy, ChaCha, Stella and Happy... Well, I was a mess and could barely manage a wave at the rest of them before getting in my car and driving to the airport. If you've every had trouble saying good-bye to a dog, try to imagine parting with sixty of them. Ugh.

I flew straight to Seattle and hit the ground running with all of the stuff I usually do when I check in here: Catch up with old friends, catch up with myself and take care of all the personal business that's been pretty much ignored for months. It still amazes me that no matter how small and simple I make my life, there's still a lot that needs to be managed!

I've also started spending some time thinking about what might be next for me. Although I've come up with a few intriguing ideas, there's nothing that's clear enough for me to "put out there" yet. I've got a lot more thinking to do...

So, what is it I always say? Stay tuned!