Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Home From My Trek to the Lower 48

A few days ago I returned from a three week trip south to visit family and friends. Originally, John and I had planned to fly down to Pensacola, Florida this fall together to stay with our son Jonathan, his wife, Reseth and our six month old grandson, Aaron. I rarely get to go anywhere with John except a short trip to town every great once in a while. So, this was going to be our big excursion. But, when we realized that Jonathan could only get time off during Thanksgiving from his intense Air Force training as a navigator, John figured he should not go, not wanting to leave Joanna here without someone to plow the roads in case of snow.

He encouraged me to go alone, knowing how much I wanted to see Jonathan and his family. What a fun and relaxing time we had together. Jonathan taught me how to fly a really fun kite with lots of action to it, he took me on a motorcycle ride, and he flew me in a small plane over the Pensacola coast, even turning the controls over to me momentarily. Whew!! What a thrill. It was an added plus that they live near the beach, which we visited three times and the temps were still in the 80's. I just love the ocean.

My last night there, Jonathan took me out to dinner at a fancy seafood restaurant. It was a real windy day and red flags were up all over signifying that people should not go in the ocean. The tides were strong and dangerous. We took a little walk on the beach before dinner and were drawn to a large pier where we saw an emergency vehicle parked, facing the ocean. As we got closer, we saw that there were about 60 surfers, all in black wetsuits out surfing the 6-8 foot waves. Having been a surfer myself in Florida, I was so excited to be able to watch them ride the waves. The sun broke through the clouds just as it was setting, making a spectacular picture.

After spending six days with them, I flew over to Atlanta, Georgia where I rented a car and drove up to Franklin, NC. I had planned to just drive up to my parents door and surprise them. When I rang the doorbell and my mother opened the door, I laughed at the look of utter consternation and bewilderment and joy on her face. She kept backing up saying, "D-D-D-D-Daryl !!! Where did you come from? How did you get here? "

It was hard to keep the surprise from leaking out with all my family members that knew about it. But it worked and it was worth all the effort to keep it a secret. I had two wonderful weeks with them, also visiting my sister and her family and my brother and his family. My mother just told me today that it was one of the two greatest surprises in her life. I forgot to ask her what the other one was...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Race handler photos - Hero's behind the scenes:)

Had to post a few pics of my Beargrease handlers, my mom and cousins Sarah and Holly and friend Leah! They are all troopers and I am so blessed for their support!! Couldn't do it without ya'll!!!

Sled Dogs Fall Training/Conditioning - Getting Ready for a Winter of Dogsledding!!

Fall is the time of year that my thoughts turn to, well mush! As in Mushing dogs!!! My dad and I are a team in every way with caring for the dogs and running them. Dad goes with me on almost every training run and I couldn't do it without all his help!! He would go with me to handle at the races if he could but he has to stay home to man the generators, plow our 16 mile long "driveway" and feed the dogs left behind. His support means everything to me and he shares in our teams success at the races. We work together well in guiding participants on sled dog trips, teaching them how to drive the sled and commands for the dogs. It has sure been fun to share in all the adventures with my dad!!

With our kennel of racing and touring Alaskan Husky Sled Dogs, training and conditioning of our dogs begins around the 1st of September. When its cooling off in the early mornings and late evenings is an ideal time to hook up some dog power and get our canine athletes into shape after a summer off! We start short and slow, four mile runs with a water break at the halfway point. Keeping sled dogs from overheating is of utmost importance!!! We hook up between 10 and 16 dogs at a time to our big four-wheeler, which they then pull with the engine running, in gear to help hold them back! The goal is to build muscle to help protect the joints from injury which is why we do not allow them to go very fast at first. Hooking up 16 dogs to one gangline for the 1st run of the year can be pretty wild! The dogs are absolutely CRAZY to run and they know what pulling out the harnesses and firing up the ATV's mean!! Its a lot of fun and quite exhilarating to say the least! I just love seeing how much these dogs LOVE to run!!!

As the season progresses we keep gradually increasing the distances they are running, mixing things up with slow/fast - long/short runs. Not only are the dogs getting in shape physically with the conditioning but also there is lots of mental training taking place as well. Teaching new young leaders how to hold the line out, run on the right side of the road, obey commands for turning, and learning how to pass vehicles and other dog teams among other things!! Our location is ideal for training sled dogs with many different roads/trails leading in many different directions. It is a dog mushers paradise to have so many trails to choose from right in our own backyard! The dogs like variety as well as they can get somewhat bored running the same trails and certainly get excited to run new trails!! Seeing moose or lynx, rabbits or partridge also amps them up! Training with the ATV is nice for control with big teams but we are always excited to be on sleds once we get enough snow!!!

My first big race of the year is the John Beargrease Sled Dog Race starting in Duluth, MN at the end of January. I race the mid-distance with 8 dogs for about 112 miles along the north shore of Lake Superior, it is a pretty tough race with some serious hills of the Sawtooth Mountains, not to mention always has some serious competition of highly competitive teams. It has two checkpoints where you can stop and care for the dogs and yourself with the eight hours of mandatory rest time usually divided between both checkpoints. My mom and two cousins, Sarah and Holly have been superstar handlers for me the last several years as well as my good friend Leah who is very knowledgeable and a huge help! It takes dedicated handlers up for adventure to stay up all night in the cold to help me and my team!!! I couldn't do it with out all their help so a huge thank you to you gals!!

I am hoping to head over to Michigan for the Midnight Run starting in Marquette middle of February if it works out. I have long wanted to race it and have (in my opinion:) a great team this year so hope to bring home some prize money if all goes well! And as always I look forward to racing in my old hometown of Ely, MN for the WolfTrack Classic, a race that I helped out with its inaugural year. Always great to see my sister and all my friends!!! In the future I would like to race the 10 dog, 150 mile CopperDog in MI which follows more of a stage style format. Always new trails/races to run!!! We also host a short fun sprint race here at Agimac River in mid March. All the local sprint mushers come if they can and its a great time and usually last hurrah to our racing season:)

The eight pups that were born in April are very big at about 8 months old now! I am super excited to see how they do in harness and will hook them up for the first time this winter! Future Champions here they come!

Continue to watch the blog for race results later on this winter!!! Merry Christmas everyone!!! Joanna and team :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Moose Hunters

Resident Canadians who already have their tags can stay with us here at Agimac River Outfitters to hunt WMU 15A. They all did pretty well with most of them getting a moose and for sure seeing quite a few of them even if they weren't able to shoot one.

Non resident moose hunters from the U.S. do their hunting where we have moose tags, about 300 miles north of us, about where the gravel road ends at Stirland Lake. They all bring their own camping supplies, canoes, four wheelers, even generators to be self sufficient.

Scott Bertrand got a nice bull moose which is shown in the first picture above. Another group had a bit of a scare when two older gentlemen were motoring back in their canoe up the river after dark and hit a rock. The canoe capsized and a lot of their gear went down. They grabbed their motor and put it on a rock to mark where it capsized and began paddling. The only problem is that they were disoriented and were paddling in the wrong direction. They were cold and wet and now moving further from their destination. The guys back at camp figured there was something wrong, so they drove their pickup trucks over to the boat landing and shone their headlights out into the dark. Fortunately, the men in the canoe saw the lights, turned around and made it safely to shore.

Aside from that harrowing adventure, they had a blast catching northern pike, and watching a beautiful northern lights display, pictured above. They saw quite a few moose, but weren't able to get close enough for a good shot. However, I'm sure they went home with memories they will never forget.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Caught Our Limit

Fall is a busy time of year for us. Even though our cabins are pretty empty now, this is the time of year when we do lots of painting on the inside of the cabins, renovation projects and excavating improvements on the premises. We hurry to accomplish all these tasks in a few short weeks before freezing weather sets in and it brings everything to a screeching halt.

But the weather has been SOOOOO nice that Joanna and I just had to get out on the lake to do a little fishing. Our kind and generous guests often give us their leftover live bait (minnows, leeches and worms) as they are departing for which we are so grateful. In fact, I still have quite a few worm and leech containers taking up room in my refrigerator, still hoping to get out fishing.

We went to our favorite spot where we can generally catch quite a few walleye in a very short amount of time. Sure enough, just as the sun is setting over the horizon and the moon is rising on the other side, those walleyes start jumping on our lines.

I have to say that Joanna usually beats me every time in the number of walleyes pulled in. I don't know what it is. We have the same bait, the same lure, do the same thing (just sit there motionless without even jigging the rod) and her pole invariably pulls over with the weight of a fish on it much more often than mine.

We both so enjoy the tug of a fish on the line and always get excited to reel one in. I get a kick out of watching those veteran fishermen who remain sober faced and calm while pulling in a big one as if it's no big deal. But they've probably caught a lot more fish than we ever will. Each time our pole bends, Joanna and I can't help exclaiming with vibrant enthusiasm, " I'VE GOT ONE".

On this particular evening, there was a bit of cloud cover, the wind must have been blowing in the right direction, the water temperature must have been just right, the atmospheric pressure in the correct range and all the other things that pro fishermen are knowledgeable about. We don't pretend to know all those things, but we sure were pulling in the walleyes this night and had a ball doing it. In just an hour and a half we had both caught our limit and threw a whole bunch more back.

Joanna and I had one hilariously funny moment on our outing. We had anchored ourselves where we thought there was the greatest concentration of fish. But after a few minutes of sitting there, I wasn't seeing many fish on my fish finder. We decided we should move a few more feet in another direction. So Joanna went to the front of the boat to lift up the anchor while I started the motor. I revved up the engine and nothing seemed to be happening. It didn't appear that we were moving at all. Joanna kept looking my way, wondering why the boat wasn't going anywhere. I thought that possibly the anchor was somehow still dragging. I called out to her, "Have you got the anchor up?" She hollered back over the sound of the motor that yes, she had it pulled up. She said something else but I couldn't hear her over the roar of the motor. Still, we didn't seem to be making any progress in movement. So I turned up the power on the motor again. Joanna looked back at me and hollered, "Mom, we're not moving." In utter frustration, exasperation and bewilderment, I hollered back to her, "WELL WHY NOT????" Finally, I heard her reply. "YOU DON'T HAVE THE MOTOR IN GEAR!!!" I said, "Oh". And Joanna collapsed on the front seat in laughter. We relived that one all evening, giggling all over again.

The next night we even convinced John to stop working and go out fishing with us. He is always in the middle of some project that he wants to conquer. I begged and pleaded and he consented. He enjoyed it so much that he came out with us the next two nights. There's nothing like being out on a calm, beautiful lake watching the sun go down, the moon come up, listening to the lonely loon call and bringing in some fish.

P.S. You'll have to ask Joanna about how her fish came off the line as she was lifting it in the boat and her line flew back, hooking her minnow in my hair.:(

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Quad Chariot

Some dear friends of ours in Ignace, Elaine and Francis Roy, were camping near us on Indian Lake this past month. They have both been a tremendous help to us from the very beginning since we acquired Agimac River Outfitters in May 2008. Francis is quite gifted in being able to fix about anything, find about anything we need, and make all kinds of things with his creative mind.

One of his inventions is what we call a quad (or four wheeler) chariot. Using two pickup seats complete with seat belts, he put together a type of trailer to pull behind a quad so more people could go together exploring the numerous logging roads and lakes in our area.

Francis let us use his new invention while our daughter Cherish was up for a visit in August. Cherish and Joanna sat in the chariot while I commandeered the quad. Off we went into the bush, checking out blueberries and just having fun.
The girls had a grand time riding in the chariot and said it was a stable and comfortable ride. Good job Francis!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What a Surprise!

On Sunday, September 4th I had invited my friend Linda Micks from Ignace to come out for a visit and to stay overnight. We wanted to join her in celebrating her birthday which was September 4th, just two days before mine. She and I have both just joined the ranks of those in their 60's. Quite a milestone. She got here about 11:30 a.m and we sat around for awhile visiting and catching up on what was happening in each others lives.

After about an hour, Joanna asked Linda if she wanted to go up to see the dogs in the dog yard. She asked if I wanted to go too. I declined as it was rather cool out and I didn't want to put my outdoor shoes back on. While they were gone, I went downstairs to take care of something I noticed needed fixing in the basement. Then I heard John come in from outside. He called down to me and asked if I wanted to come see something cute in the dog yard. I said okay and started up the stairs.

Once I reached the top of the stairs, all of a sudden there was a loud yelling of the word "SURPRISE!!!!" from a large group of people behind me. I jumped and opened my mouth wide as my heart leaped within me. I turned to see about 12 people standing by the door and realized it was a surprise birthday party for me! I was so stunned, my legs would barely hold me up. John said he will never forget the look on my face and my bodily reaction. Linda had her camera in hand and captured my startled look. It was pretty funny. They got me good. I don't know how that many people drove into our place and walked into our house without me hearing them. It was amazing. Needless to say, I was very touched. It was John's idea and between Joanna and my friend Beth Drake, they planned a super fun party. We barbequed hamburgers, went for a hike to the falls and played some games.

It is an experience I will never forget. Thank you John and Joanna.

The Grand Baby is Here

On August 19th a wonderful event took place at Agimac River Outfitters. Our first grandbaby, Aaron Joseph Oberg arrived on the scene. He is now almost three months old and weighs in at about 15 pounds. He is getting to be quite a big armload for his tiny mother, Reseth who flew up to see her parents at Knife Lake, MN along the north shore of Lake Superior. She left behind her husband, (our son) Jonathan to study for his challenging tests in process to be a navigator in the Air Force.

Reseth only stayed one night with her folks before our daughter, Cherish, swung by from Ely to pick her and Aaron up to come north to Agimac River Outfitters. Cherish also had in tow, Joanna who had made a quick trip south to Ely. They stayed with us for about a week, then Reseth returned to her parent's place where she enjoyed about a week with her relatives and friends.

That little Aaron was not lacking for any attention here with two aunts, two grandparents and his mommy waiting upon his every need. We snatched up that precious bundle the minute he woke from a nap and he entertained us the whole time with his coos and smiles. He is very alert and really seems to understand more than he can express. It will be such fun to watch him grow and enjoy each stage of his life. I wonder what plans the Lord has in mind for him. We shall see.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Great Fishing - Great Scenery - Great Fun

Agimac River Outfitters in Northwestern Ontario is not only a terrific place to stay for fishing because of all the fantastic surrounding lake choices, but it is also a relaxing, refreshing and fun place to be. It does something for the soul to come upon a cow moose with her little calf, or hear loons echoing their lonely call across the lake. It's thrilling to hook a large fish and play with it till it's landed in the boat. The rapids under the bridge offer another form of fun and excitement as you slide over the rocks on a tube, waves splashing all around you. The interaction with God's creation is stimulating to people in different ways, but all beneficial to our health and well being. These are some pictures of our guests, wildlife in the area and some fun activities here at camp. Come be our guest!