Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Nothin' Like Being A Grandma and Grandpa

Oh what fun we had with Jonathan, Reseth and our most adorable grandsons, Aaron (4) and Titus (2). A whole week of waking up to joyful little voices and lots of activity. I can't tell you how many times my heart was warmed and melted by things they said or did. They're quite a joyful little family. Now that the boys are a older, we were able to do lots of outdoor activities once the weather got above zero. There was snowmobiling, sliding, hiking, dog sledding, wrestling matches with Grandpa and Daddy and just playing in the snow. Not to mention the new foosball game that provided hours of entertainment for all of us kids. smile emoticon We missed having Cherish with us because of sickness, but hope she and Patrick will make it up another time. Sure do love our chilluns!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Gunflint Mail Run Dog Sled Race

Here is Joanna's rendition of the Gunflint Mail Run 8 dog 70 mile dog sled race, her first of the season. 

Driving down to MN it was very warm, around 32 - 33 degrees F and snowing so the roads were very slippery. Still we made good time and after crossing the border turned into Grand Portage to get gas. We were going slowly due to the slippery conditions but going downhill plus trying to turn left into the gas station we started sliding straight ahead with the weight of the trailer pushing us. We hit the curb and slid within a couple feet of the cement base of the Canadian flag pole before coming to a stop! Yikes! Thank God again that He protected us and our vehicle from damage!!!! I think the curb helped bump us left as we could have slid towards the right which dropped off in a steep bank! We backed up a bit and were able to drive around the flagpoles and pull up to get gas. The guy plowing the station saw our little side detour smile emoticon and asked my mom later how the ride was:) Not something we wish to repeat!!! Later on at the race site getting ready for our vet check we discovered a tiny bit of damage from that little adventure:) The metal pin that holds the dog tie outs in or out was bent from hitting the curb and we couldn't pull it out til we un-bent it:) Then my mom asked me, "Was the trailer fender like that before?" lol nope:) It was dented in a little I guess from hitting the snowbank at the curb but not bad... poor trailer we have put it through a lot!
Anyway - about the actual dog race! Started out with Hawk and Viva in lead as they were the only two leaders on my team who had race experience in lead as there was going to be lots of from behind and head on passing on this trail. (had had to leave another of my main leaders at home due to a minor injury on our last short training run) Hindsight is always better then foresight as I wish now I hadn't bootied for the first stage (we ran just under 32 miles out and back both legs with a 3 hour rest in the middle) because the lake where we started and ran on for about 3 miles or so had a handful of slushy spots we ran through, icing up my drag pad, foot pads and the dogs booties. Not far into the run Hawk slipped/stumbled on a side hill and backed off like he had strained something. I stopped, gave him a minute and went again to see what he would do but he just wasn't right though he wasn't limping at all so I stopped again, and put Echo up there with Viva. I had been wanting to run him in lead at a race anyway as he has been a very good leader in training, so now was as good a time as any:) He did great until we had to pass, but having had a bad experience passing in a race last season he was very fearful of passing so needless to say, we had a few delays and a couple tangles and I apologize again to anyone I delayed with our troubles:) Some passes went better then others and the farther we went the narrower the trail was which made for tighter passing. It was a curvy trail with lots of up and downs, some gradual, some very steep but none overly long thankfully:) Coming around one corner I tried to quick flip my drag pad down as we headed down a hill (I somehow missed the caution signs the first time through:) but couldn't get it down in time, so dragged my heels to slow us down but my boots slipped off the iced up foot pads and I dragged on my stomach down the hill and through the water/mud hole at the bottom, it was pretty funny! I am glad I didn't have to go through the foot or so of water/mud from a leaking beaver dam that the 12 dog teams had to go through each way past the 8 dog turn around!!! All in all it was an interesting run:) Perfect weather for the race though, about 8 above F during the day and dropping that evening to 1 or 2 above when I finished. The scenery was gorgeous but I didn't have much time to enjoy it except on the lake:) I had been keeping an eye on Hawk that whole first leg of the race but he seemed ok and pulled very well. After resting 3 hours in the truck however he came out limping slightly on his left rear, so he had hurt himself with that slip like I suspected. He was checked by the vets to pinpoint the problem then had them mark him out of the race.
We were in 3rd place after the first leg so leaving with seven dogs after the rest to re-trace the same out and back route we didn't have to pass anyone for a while and the trail had set up even better with the cooler temps so it was smooth sailing until we caught up to the 2nd place team closer to the turn around point. Took a couple tries to pass, then met the team running in first place before the turn around. After that we ran alone for a little while in the dark before the team who went on to win caught back up to me again and we chased her team for a while meeting other teams on their way out to the turn around. We both got stopped by a team I felt so bad for as her team was bunched up blocking the narrow trail while she switched dogs around. The team ahead got by but Echo balked on passing again so had to go up and drag him by, then had a tangle so went up to figure out and undo the tangle but never caught back up to the 1st and 2nd place teams. I heard it was a close race between those two teams, congrats to them both on running a great race and fielding excellent teams!!! Both their teams looked awesome and I am very happy for them!!! We finished 3rd of course, very proud of my team for how well they ran even with our troubles. They gave it their all, Viva, Hawk, Echo, Vapor, Venture, Swift, Tango and Oxy! I could second guess myself now on which dog I could have or should have put up in lead but it takes time to rotate through dogs also so I just didn't bother, figured it was a good training for Echo in any case as he did get somewhat better:) I must say my mom and I both felt we have never been so cared for at a race with two free breakfasts and one dinner for the mushers and handlers! Very hospitable race they sure went all out!!! Our stay at the Big Bear Lodge just down the road from Trail Center was luxurious, cozy and comfortable lodge rooms in their gorgeous log lodge! Thank you to my dad who is the behind the scenes man in every way making sure we are prepared and safe and taking care of the home front while we are gone, and my mom as always is my amazing handler!!! The suspense of following the teams through the ham radio updates was both exciting and stressing her out lol:) Thanks again to all the organizers and everyone who puts so much into this event! As always so great to see all our friends and fellow competitors and we'll see you at the next race! Safe travels!!!!