WAG the Dog
The "Copper Basin 300" sleddog race skidded into the village slicker than waxed plastic sled runners yesterday (Sat morn) and as of 0200hrs today (sun morn) the last dog team left Chistochina.
Our humble (Ha!!!) village was the first checkpoint in the race.
In the dog mushing world there are mandatory races to run all over the United States, Canada and Alaska to qualify to run in the Biggest Sleddog Races; the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest. The CB 300 is a qualifier race.
And you thought Ironists climbed mountains, scaled buildings and SCUBA dived in order to take a few minutes to iron clothes didn't you?
If you want a lesson in Irony and Futility then watch a Dog Musher (the human driver) flip his dogsled and using a clothes iron, melt wax and "iron" it into the plastic runners.
After he does this then move closer to carefully observe as he takes a knife and shaves off EVERYTHING that he just put onto the sled runners!!
Carefully tiptoe away and speak no more of this episode to even your closest relations.....
The last 2 CB 300 Sleddog races checkpoint stops here in Chistochina,
I had seen a few of the Dog mushers camp out a mandatory 8hrs.
One time (back in Y2K) 3 other Stats volunteers and I were sitting inside the Chistochina village Clinic from midnight till 0500hrs when a musher stomped in from the cold and said he was leaving.
We practically "Riverdanced" on the Clinic porch with joy, we were so relieved.
But this time those dog teams didn't stay long.
Gone are the teams of little powerhouse bodies that when combined in pulling force, a team of 12 could easily move an automobile and could probably move an 18 wheeled semi truck too.
Gone now are those little Canine beings that yipped, yapped and howled all night over by the Community Hall.
I'll miss those little sleddog mutts.
I could see their little mouths move while I listened to Judas Priest dP, Evanesance & Yanni on my headphones RRREEEAAALLLYYY Loud!!!
And left to stay,
of last night's Sleddog Race here in our village besides the memories,
are the occasional discarded dog booties flitting around in the snow with the cold breeze and the now hardened piles of dog poop!!
The next stop for our pack of hyper active Canine athletes is Paxson and then over by Lake Louise and back to the Race starting line at Glennallen later on Mon morning or afternoon.
Good riddance and rest in fleas I say.
We'll see ya' next year.
The way to My heart
I was new to Alaska back in Y2K and just ate that Sleddog racing stuff up faster than a dog to it's own vomit. (if I may use that expression)
I fixed dog harness's, I fed a few village dogs for Granma and the neighbors,
I made novelty dog booties and sent them to my Outside friends,
I haunted all the Mushing sites for two years following the sport,
but like now, who cares??
The village women were selling food at the Community Hall,
I was hungry, and that is the only reason why I went over there in the first place to the Sleddog races yesterday.
Mom gave me $20 and out the door I went.
Tossed out the door into the big wide world like that little boy in the cartoon - Calvin & Hobbes.
I ate cookies from the bake sale, two cheeseburgers and two pop's.
I stood around out in the cold for awhile while daylight was still good at 1500 hrs.
Then I had to run for my life for a few minutes as some of the village kids thought it was just dandy to heap & hurl snow upon me and throw ice chunks at me.
I threw a couple of kids in the snowbanks and they still kept on coming!! Now that I am old I'm not as resillient or persistent.
Something about that sudden Shock of cold snow down my neck that just taxes me physiologically.
Kids can be cruel ya' know.
One cute lil Kintergarten girl was being bullied by her fellow Kintergarten boy friend. He threw snow on her and then hit her on the head with a piece of ice.
So she picked up a hard piece of snow and threw it at him hitting the bridge of his nose!! He bled. He cried.
And acting on that inborn instinct that all parents and grandparents have; to hear or know of a loved one in distress. Grandpa came running from far away to scoop up lil' grandson and take him inside the Community Hall to safety.
Coming Down the Mountain
And later on at 2100 hrs, I was nice enough to run (stats) from the Race starting line back to the Community Hall and Post them on the wall.
And you know? there are those kinds of people that go to Races and then instead of spectate, they sit around inside where it's nice and warm and hang out around the board waiting (for people like me) to write numbers.
It was like I was writing new Commandments from God or else I was jotting down the cure for cancer.
People stopped what they were doing to watch.
Or perhaps they were annoyed by my loud headphones music??
yeah, Yanni does that to me too after awhile, but Yo-yo ma isn't as bad, and Carlos Nakai the Flute player? after 30 mins I want to run away screaming.
The Line in the Sand....er SNOW
There was absolutely no way I was gonna get bribed, cajoled (Y2K) or Threatened again (Y01) to help out on yesterday's Race starting line when the Sleddog teams left the village.
I still remember Y2K and and how a few Race Start line helpers disappeared with an outgoing sleddog team after they got a foot or a hand tangled in the dog's gangline.
That's the most dangerous place to be when helping out at sleddog races is the Starting line!!
Action figure comes w/ VillageDeathGrip.
Even last night, with my own four eyes, I saw Uncle Al stumble and get dragged 10' by a sleddog team before they gave up and quieted down.
The dog team's sudden deafening silence was mute testimony to what happened a few minutes later, when one of those poor exhausted mutts was carried away (worn around the doghandlers shoulders like a stole) all lifeless and limp and I think that team had to scratch the race (quit).
At least Uncle Al's immensity in size saved him.
THAT and his crushing grip on the gangline attached to the front of the dogsled.
It was his proverbial "can of Molson's Ice" or
Like unto My own "bag of chicken tenders and dozen Jo-jo's from Parks Place deli when I eat."
(note to self, get as big as Uncle Al in the winter.....wait.
I am as big as he is. I just don't have the beer Gut)
In fact, as a winter activity being a sleddog Race Start line volunteer IS on the Most Dangerous Jobs In the World list next to
"Crab fishing in the Bering Sea" and in overall hazardous categories Sleddog Race Start line volunteering is listed right under
"being a VPSO to an outlying Alaska Native Village".
(where the Native Elders wield hard diamond willow canes with cultural impunity!!)
Trust me...I know.
I still remember when we did manage to find one Race Start line volunteer survivor staggering in a daze out in the woods behind the village that night back in Y2K.
His parka and mittens were gone and he had a knot on his head where the dog team dragged him against a tree and he was babbling incoherently.
The Health Aides checked him out and then we took him home to the wife and kids in the village.
Turns out he was a dog team driver from Wyoming!! He's never gone home to the lower 48 since. yikes.
In fact, one such hapless villager.
A Race Start line volunteer, that disappeared long ago was seen in the village as of last week, he'd been gone almost 4 yrs.
I secretly harbor the blame for his dissappearance though,
I was new to Alaska and new to the dog mushing sport
and was unaware of Raceline protocol.
Someone oughta publish a Race start line guide for dummies
(people like me)
The dog teams approach and stand at the Race start line.
A dog team helper or often a local villager volunteer (US)
might then step in for the
driver behind the sled while the driver goes upline snapping the dogs
to the mainline and doing last minute checks.
This one team had 12 dogs and the line of dogs seem to extend way out into the darkness beyond the Start line.
There's people walking around, the generator / lights making noise and
just overall confusion. And then add a Greenhorn like me to the mix.
I thought I saw someone out in the darkness wave at me.
I took that as my cue to step OFF the Ice hook that tethered the dog team
and so I did.
That's where this LOST & Found villager I now speak of enters the picture.
As he was sitting on the custom made Fold-down seat upon the dog sled and was gossiping with another villager nearby.
He was gone in a flash and in the ensuing commotion I slipped away in the darkness and went home!
But I am pleased to announce that this missing man has been reunited with his family and he in turn is pleased to see that he has a new granddaughter which, by the way, explains a new extended addition to his cabin home.
Though he naturally isn't happy about being $122K in debt but at least he has a brand new pickup truck!
HHmmmm, I wondered why that man was toting his new grandchild around and arguing with all the single men yesterday, or WHY he was getting close to me and trying to look at MY eyes??
It was about as annoying as that woman from Wyoming who was looking for her husband!!