Thursday, March 10, 2016

back from Fairbanks...

 a little pre-trip selfie with Blossom.  she seems tuckered out.  it was a quick trip, but enjoyable.  some Northern lights came out in the wee hours, but not by my hotel and i was too lazy and sleepy to drive north out of clouds to catch bad. it is a nearly 8 hour trek counting stopping to walk dog and snap photos.
 these are still from the ceremonial start of the Iditarod in Anchorage.  the teams are moving pretty fast.  i think some are even starting to get near the half way point.  many of the usual names are in the lead positions.  this will change many times over these first days.  there are mandatory stops of 24 hour and 8 hours that will factor in.
 3 teams have already scratched.  details seem to rarely be given at this point...generally the response is...over concern for the dogs.
 i know there have been some of the usual trail issues.  lack of snow in some area's, lack of ice requiring trips through open water in other area's.  Failor slashed their leg open i think trying to get the material part of his sled off so he could re-attach it to a spare sled.  sometimes the sleds get bashed up and they can have a spare sled stashed some place. not sure the details of the rules on that. a few years ago many sleds got trashed.  he had 5 stitches and opted to take his 24 hour break and reassess whether he can go on.  since it's not his hands he may be able to. many of these mushers are pretty dang tough.
 Lance Mackey seems to be managing with his team okay..of course it doesn't sound like they have had the super sub zero temps they had last year which must help
 temps were 0-10 at night and warming up to the teens today in Fairbanks when i left.  still was able to go out and get Blossom out for her evening stroll outside the hotel in my jammies, coat and slippers...
 Blossom enjoyed all her attention at the hotel. we stayed at the La quinta in Fairbanks.  they must have just bought this place out, they are doing a remodel so my room was pretty new.  will be nice when it is all done and they allow dogs!!  :-)
 got well over my 10,000 steps per day.  no gym time, but you do have to give yourself a break when you are away and not able to maintain your schedule.  this week will be a bust and i'll get back to it next week.
 hit the ice scuptures in Fairbanks.  they are pretty impressive. the multi-block ones were not completed.  did enjoy watching them work hard at it, the single block sculptures are complete.  i discovered them this year...apparently, i had totally missed that section last year.
 liked the dog truck with the old theater in the background.
 the roads to Fairbanks were totally clear.  so sweet!! so the driving was not terrifying like it was last year.  on the way up Blossom and i stopped at the lake area i had gone to with friends the day before to watch the restart.  i renamed it, "the trail of a 1000 dog poops and pees".  Blossom was pretty excited by all the cool smells from all those dogs.  she insisted on peeing her smexting messages...although i tried to tell her those dogs were on the way to Nome and would not be returning here to get these messages.
 i also had to laugh as i picked up Blossoms poop and was carrying it out there...seems a moot point after over 1000 dogs have released their bowels out there, but i did pick up her poop.  there were much less snow machines out there on Monday compared to the crazy place on Sunday.  we actually are on Emswiller Lake.  we always say we are on Long Lake....but that lake is another mile or so walk from where we were.  i headed over there.  i'd for sure walk out there again...
 we also stopped in Denali National Park.  not much for critter sightings out there this week.  always enjoy a drive through.  today we did a nice walk in there again.  we also walked a bit at the UAF campus in Fairbanks.  yesterday we'd done several miles at Creamers Field but i've always heard they have some nice cross country ski trails up there.  found them on campus and passed more on the way to Chena Hot Springs.
 so they do have snow in Fairbanks.  not nearly as much as when we were there last year. i also felt like there were more open areas on the big river.  i had debated taking a walk out there and we did go out there, but it just didn't seem as stable as last year. i'm not as comfortable walking on big rivers like that as opposed to big lakes. rivers move faster and if you do fall in you get sucked under the ice fast...that would be all she wrote. falling into any water wouldn't be good though.
 4 teams are out already. Gatt, DeNure, Steves and Koenig.
 Buser started the race with Pneumonia...liked one writers description of him this run...he's on the way back to Seattle via Nome.  his son was in a terrible car accident down there in January. he is recovering slowly, but must be tough to be away.  Nikolai is in a rehab unit.  his sons are named for check points.  his other son Rohn is staying down south with his brother to allow Martin to do the run.  it's what he does for a living.  
 current Iditarod champ Dallas Seavey has been a bit under the weather as well.
 dog wear is always interesting. i guess they have inner jackets now that have pockets for those little hand warmers.  the heat is in the shoulder area.
 booties, jackets, arm leggings, muscle shirts....looks like Dallas is halfway...taking his 24 hour at that point.
 sounds like there were some bison on the trail...dogs liked that and booked towards them for some wild rides for a few mushers.
 while we were in Creamers walking a dog team passed by us.  Blossom was pretty excited.
 tried to balance walks with Blossom with car rest time so she wouldn't be too bored.  never left her alone in the hotel except to run grab my complimentary breakfast.
 getting dogs checked.  the twins above
  gotta be some cold and wet feet out there.  heard one of the mushers was dealing with trench foot.  nasty stuff.  see it with the homeless mostly around here.  dry socks are critical...take care of those feet folks!!
 cute puppy faces...
 i'm catching up on my Iditarod insider video clips.  gives you an idea how snowless the farewell burn was though reports are much better than least there was some snow in there this year.
 it also shows the water crossings.  no way around it.  probably easier on the early teams as the snow and ice no doubt broke apart more the more teams that went on it.  many teams managed it better than others...some dog teams just balked at the crossing and the musher had to help them across and then the sleds...meaning more time in the water for them.
 the handlers help control these dogs at the ceremonial start...none of this help once you are out there on the trail.
 some jerk in Fairbanks i'm guessing changed my car graffiti from Walrus Rock to Walrus Cocks...haha. so i brushed off the dirt. changed it to I heart Walrus.
 yesterday i kept pretty busy.  had a plan and moved through all my little goals.  was happy to make the run out to Chena Hot Springs again.  walked Blossom a bit before and after.  the road out there last year had been a lot of ice. i was sure you turned onto another road, but you don't.  getting out and back took much less time.  we passed through two rivers, which was nice.  there are some forest service cabins in the area.  may have to look into some treks north over the next few summer/falls.  bugs may be killer too early on, but winter could be interesting as well.
 handling dogs is the big part of this mushing job.  taking care of 1-2 dogs can be taxing...can't imagine 16 of them.
 chatted with tourists out at Chena.  many out there to catch the aurora.  they were supposedly really good Sunday night.  that place is always hopping in the winter.  aurora chasers.  guess there was an elipse the other day and an Alaska Air flight diverted it's path so that everyone on the flight would get a great view of it.  some lucky passengers on that flight. what a thing to behold from that vantage point.  was just reading that the flight had lots of scientists on board and was purposely delayed like 20 minutes in order to have a prime viewing of the eclipse...the scientists were able to  plan ahead with proper eyewear for the passengers, many of whom had no idea what excitement awaited them.
 would be fun to fly out to rainy pass lodge for some check point action. doubt i'll really add that to my list though.  so much to see and do in this state.  catch what you can.
 hopefully, i can sit down over the next several days and get some more of these pictures looked through.  now i have all these Fairbanks photo's to look at as well. fun though.  life is good!!
 a woman shot and killed herself in Juneau, in daylight right in front of the courthouse.  there is this part of you that is grateful she did not feel the need to take others with her like so many seem to do these days.  poor woman though, it does sound like she has a history of mental health issues.
 loved this guys eyes. lots of variety in these Alaska Huskies..not a Westminster recognized breed of course.  perhaps one day.
 checking me out..he knows a dog lover when he sees one.
 the street scene....liked that they used a uhaul truck with a walrus on it.
 sorry, kind of scattered tonight.  that is what 2-8 hour drives in 3 days will do to you. back to work tomorrow night. boo.  need to do the cat litter/house clean/groceries tomorrow.
 looking forward to some sleep.  Blossom and I are beat.
 faces of the Iditarod.
 cute mug

 didn't see any moose driving up or in Fairbanks. saw 3 on the drive back. all from Talkeetna to Anchorage.  pretty sunset.  pretty sunset on the drive north as well. was so relieved that the drive was as pleasant as it was.
 these are a few from the phone of the ice sculptures.  much of the park is dedicated to fun with a variety of sleds and slides, climbable ice structures.  lots of fun stuff.
 these are penguins in front of the big ice slide runs.
off to bed.  thankful for:  A.  safe travels  B.  lots of walking for Blossom and I.  C.  a freshly remodeled hotel room. felt pretty pampered...not that it takes much for me to feel pampered. i'm never pampered.  :-)

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