Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meese Encounter

Had a close encounter with Meese No. 78 last night. Wrigley and I went for a run on some of the trails near my house. At one point there's a long stretch of downhill (my favorite!) and an abrupt turn to the right, and where do you think that meese was hanging out? Yes, right around the corner, not even visible until you get there. Wrigs was running ahead of me (he's such a show-off), and he started to do his freak out bark. As soon as he did that I saw the spindly meese legs through the trees. Wrigs was only about 20 feet from the meese, who was starting to walk towards Wrigs with his big rack low to the ground. Luckily, Wrigs listened when I called him back in my "I'm really serious, Wrigley, get your little dog butt over here" voice. So, we avoided skewered Wrigley and had a lovely run back to the house. Hopefully the next sightings won't be quite so exciting.

It's fall, so the male meese are growing their racks in. It's really impressive to see those things up close. It's a wonder they can even lift their heads. I wish I'd had my camera - the leaves have put on their fall outfits, and the run last night was just stunning.

Next up...Loren's wedding!! Scott and I are headed to Illinois tomorrow to begin the festivities. Probably won't see any meese....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not that I'm Bragging, but...

This is what I did Labor Day weekend. Nice weather, much??

Putting Scott to work

Checking out huge icebergs

Hiking up the side of Bear Glacier

And it's appropriately named
I heart this state!

I Ran and Nothing was Chasing Me!

Harumph. I wrote the text of this post first, then put in the pics, and now blogger isn't letting me rearrange things. So, looks like pics are first, and they're in reverse order. Excellent!

First up, the Yukon River. The finish of the race. What race? Keep reading!

Teammate running through beautiful Canada. Canada?! Yes, keep reading!
The route was NOT ugly.
Skagway. This was the first heat to start. Notice they got to start in daylight.
The team: No whine. More wine. Some of the members wanted to be No wine. More beer. I think that's a pretty clever name...maybe next year.
This past weekend I ran in the Klondike Road Relay. The relay is 110 miles and travels from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory - it's a former Gold Rush Stampeder route. It's so long you have to carry a passport. What was I thinking??

I ran Leg 1. The good news: I was done early. The bad news: it's 9 miles uphill. Here's a cross section of the course.... www.cmaj.ca/cgi/reprint/156/4/476.pdf My team kicked off at 10PM, so it was pitch black. I thought I was going to miss out on stunning scenery and was a little bummed about starting in the dark, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was only me and the 10 feet of road in front of me...and the girl I was chasing (thank you Maggie for keeping me going!). I was able to take the entire 9 miles 10 feet at a time, rather than rounding a corner in the daylight and seeing miles of uphill climbing, which would've likely resulted in me hurling myself into the gorge I would've also seen. Turns out running at night is WAY cool. I ran the whole thing, did much better than I was expecting, and even thought about taking up running races. That must've been the endorphins - I raced in a Tuesday Night Race Series event last night and was wondering why the h*ll I thought I liked racing so much. I was in p-a-i-n.

I don't have any pics of me running, but these give you an idea of how it all went down. The route takes you through some beautiful country, and the fall colors were at their peak. I think I'll do it again next year!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Campers in Places that Aren't Ugly

I had the world's best visitors up here in July. I also had Duncan, Krista, and Julz visit. Ha ha. Seriously, you guys were so much fun, and I can't wait to do it all again Kauai style. I've mentioned that we happen to be having amazing weather up here this summer, and I am happy to report that my visitors experienced sunshine every. single. day. Not one drop of rain. And we were in Prince William Sound and near Seward!!! Crazy. Here's Julz soaking up a few rays by Coxe glacier. See what I mean?

And Krista and Duncan getting all excited about the scenery, seals, and otters, because let's face it, it wasn't ugly!

I think we all learned a few valuable lessons on the kayak portion of the trip. 1. Don't take people you don't know on trips with you. They may brush their teeth with their finger and totally gross Julia out. 2. Don't walk 50 feet away from your fellow campers to do your business. That's not far enough!! That's NEVER far enough! 3. Fjords where there are five tidewater glaciers are c-c-c-old! But surprisingly refreshing.

Apres kayaking, we spent a night back at the Anc, AK pad so we could wash ourselves, wash our clothes, and actually sleep in a bed (or, if you were Krista and Duncan, on an air mattress). Then we headed south to the Lost Lake trail near Seward. The only bummer about kick-ass weather is that humans aren't the only ones who love it; bugs do too. So, on our hike up to the alpine lake...well, let's just say that even Wrigley had a caribou moment. Here's Julia having one. Or maybe that's me having one and trying to take a picture...Once we got above tree line the bugs kinda dispersed. Kinda. Sorta. But the views were breathtaking, and made the bug torture totally worth it.Our camp. Note: It's not ugly.Another valuable lesson was learned at this camp site. About 10 minutes after we arrived and picked our spot, a couple of fellow hikers decided it would be nice to camp there too. People, there are THOUSANDS of acres to camp on, please don't pick the spot 50 feet away. As any good Alaskans (even if only Alaskans for a few days) would do, we shoo'ed them away, just as we would shoo away the Russians.

After Krista and Duncan bid us adieu from Seward, Julz and I headed up to Hatcher Pass to hike the Reed Lake trail. Just spectacular. I heart this trail. The lower lake:

I had a great time with you guys. Sorry it took SOOOO long to post the trip. I'm fired. Miss you, and can't wait to do it again!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

I have ignored this site for far too long! I've ditched the computer in favor of playing in what has been the best summer in recent memory up here. It's been sunny and in the 70s everywhere I go! Here's a little sampling of some of what I was up to through June. Stay tuned for kayak trip updates (Icy Bay/Dangerous Passage) and adventures with Julia, Krista and Duncan...

First up, Jenn and I headed out to Cordova on Memorial Day weekend. We took the ferry from Whittier and the crossing over to the east side of Prince William Sound (where Cordova is) was like crossing a lake - it was so calm and sunny! We did this trip in 2007 and were rained on for the entirety of 3 days. But this year was spectacular!

Marsh area right outside the "city" where thousands and thousands of birds rest during their spring migration. It was pretty quiet by the time we arrived.

The Cordova boat harbor. In one hand I had my camera, in the other, a nice cold beer. I knew then that this summer was going to be really, really good!

From one of our hikes. Not too shabby.

We hiked up to a huge alpine lake that had a tidewater glacier at the far end. That was an unexpected, awesome surprise! And then Wrigley said he wanted to imitate a polar bear.

Then Scott and I went to Halibut Cove to visit Matt, Brooke, and Liam. Halibut Cove is across Kachemak Bay from Homer and is a unique spot with an artistic community. We paddled around a bit, hiked around a bit, and relaxed a lot. Matt and Brooke have quite the setup out there. I highly recommend inviting yourself out for a visit.

This guy was a total ham. I kayaked right up to him and all he did was ask, "Did you get that one?" with his Blue Steel face.

Part of Brooke and Matt's complex. This is a former art gallery turned sleeping quarters. I love the marine-themed mishmash decor.
Scott and I have been spending a lot of time down in Cooper Landing this summer. One of the many things to do down there includes cutting down trees on the property (much to his grandmother's dismay) and torching them.
Scott's grandma can hardly see, but she can stand up at the house looking towards the lake and survey the trees on her property. She can detect where there is new light, signaling that a tree has recently been cut down. I've never seen a 101 year old so angry! Then again, I'm not sure I've ever seen another 101 year old.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

From the Mountains to the Ocean

Summer has arrived in Alaska, so I've traded in my skis for my bike and kayak. My first bike ride of the year was a 4 hour ride on the dirt road in Denali. Should've done a little "breaking in" first, but there is no time to waste when the sun is shining, there is no one in the busiest park in AK, and you can ride here:
For the two of you who have been reading this thing since 2007, you may recall my bike trip to Denali. Let me help refresh your memory.

Yes, that would be the ultimate in bike couture. Only the most fashionable diva can pull off a thick wool hat under the bike helmet look. But let's focus on the snow/sleet/hail. That was then. Welcome to Denali Bike Trip 2009!

You'll notice I've traded in the fashionable wool/helmet combo for the ever-popular green Cubs hat. And I've ditched the snow and ice on my face in exchange for a little mud (that is not a big hairy mole). And most importantly, it's SUNNY!! And hot! This summer is shaping up to be one for the record books.
Then, after Denali, I headed south to Seward and Bear Glacier for a hybrid kayak/surf trip. I don't surf...yet...but Scott does. I watched him from the beach. At first you think, "Wow, that guy is totally nuts!" But then you get a little jealous because he's out there swimming around with seals and occasionally riding a wave while I'm checking the beach for that bear that just ambled by.
Rounding Caines Head in Resurrection Bay:
Bear Glacier - the lagoon was pretty locked in:
We scared this guy!

View from one of our camp spots:Waiting for the next big one:
Happy campers/kayakers/surfer!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dog Days

The last two weekends have been a heck of a ride. Last weekend consisted of 3 days of Iditarod mayhem. On Saturday, there is a ceremonial start in Anchorage. The real race begins in Willow the following day, but first, there's Saturday. Yours truly got to "handle" for one of the rookie mushers, Karin Hendrickson (who is, by the way, kicking ass...probably has everything to do with her handlers). Handling the dogs means you have 2 jobs: 1. you get the dogs to the starting line, and 2. DO NOT step on their feet. That's harder said than done if you know how excited these dogs are. They gun their engines all the way to the start line. This video will give you an idea. Sorry it's flipped on its side...I have to remember that when I shoot videos that way. Anyway, you'll get the gist. This team was passing our staging area on its way to the start line.

After releasing the hounds, I let the Lance Mackey groupie in me come out. This guy is the quintessential musher. He looks like he's had a rough life (he reminds me a little of Ernest from "Ernest Goes to Camp"), has smoked too much of something...let's put is this way, he's got a dog named "Pimp"...but he's got serious love for his K-9s and that scores him major points in the musher groupie world. So I went to go check he and his pups out. Most mushers have their head handler get the dogs on the line, but Mackey did all the grunt work himself. And as a groupie, I thought that was way cool. As of tonight, he's well on his way to kicking the crap out of cocky Jeff King. Go Mackey! Here he is at the ceremonial start looking incredibly relaxed. That's Pimp on the left.

The ceremonial start is always fun, but I'd never been to the real deal until this year. I got to go behind the scenes to the staging area for all the mushers and their team. I was hoping to score another position handling for Karin, but she already had way too many wanna-be handlers, so I made my way on over to watch the start with the rest of the regular spectators. It was great to watch the teams fly down the shoot. As they ran by you can't help but think, "Holy sh*t, they're on their way to Nome!" These dogs are the most amazing athletes!
Then, on Monday, a few friends and I jumped on a charter flight to Finger Lake, one of the checkpoints at the start of the race. We got to see teams enter the checkpoint, rest up, leave, and even watch a few blow by the checkpoint on their way to the next one.

The resting teams were the most fascinating to watch - once they get settled in, the mushers lay hay for the dogs to sleep on, check paws, and begin cooking up tasty snacks. One musher was feeding her dogs beaver. We wondered where the heck someone finds enough beaver to feed 16 run-aholic dogs, but didn't ask questions. Volunteer vets check each and every dog thoroughly at each checkpoint. While all that was going on, I was on the hunt for blue eyed pups and managed to catch a few with their eyes open.

But most teams looked like this while resting.

The most hilarious dog is right here. Her name is Ellen. She sleeps sitting up while her mommy musher cooks for the team. She did this the entire 2ish hours we were at the checkpoint. Every now and then her head were lean closer and closer to the ground, and just before her nose would touch the hay she'd self-correct and go right back to this position. She may have blue eyes, but I never saw them open!

I continued a doggie theme this past weekend while on my Third Annual Fairbanks Trip. I did manage to view some non-doggie ice sculptures at the World Championship Ice Carving contest, and even hit up those infamous ice slides. This time we tried them backwards, and I recorded it. The fear is pretty obvious on my face.

And last but not least, I rode the whip sled with my friend Tom and his dogs. They call it a whip sled for a reason. I gave a lovely demonstration of this...video to follow once I get a copy. In the meantime, see if you think these guys are ready to run.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Winter Wonderland

That's not me. I don't know who that is. This isn't even my picture. In fact, I'm pretty sure this isn't even in Alaska. So why do I post it here? That would be because I went on a ski tour this past weekend and had the most phenomenal weather and views you can imagine...and I forgot my camera!! I was so excited to make all 2 of you who read this thing jealous, so I started charging up my batteries while packing for this last-minute trip. But in true Lindsay fashion* I failed to bring the camera. So, this internet search find will have to do. It does capture the essence of what I saw - not a single cloud in the sky, white sparkly snow in front of us, and a 360 degree view of mountains around us. It was stunning.

Wrigley was a bit of a buzz kill though. On the way back to the truck he decided to chase a porcupine. You'd think he'd learn that bad things happen when he chases things (i.e., cars, metal edged skis, and now porcupines). He re-joined us with a new set of jewelry: a cheek full of quills. My friend was able to yank most out with his hands, and a few more came out later with the help of some pliers. Yee-ouch! (One was hidden away on top of his head- maybe it migrated??) So, Wrigs is under quill surveillance. I'm just hoping it doesn't lead to surgery no. 3!

Wrigley and I were crashing at a friend's cabin in on Kenai Lake for the better part of the weekend. The property is amazing, and I can't wait to go back again! Nights were spent in a sauna, the cabin (really, it's a house) inspires relaxed evenings with friends, and there is an unlimited number of adventures to be had all over the place! And the best part? It's RIGHT on the lake (i.e. the perfect kayak launch site). It is surrounded by unbelievably beautiful country, and I have already invited myself back for more!

*If you knew me in Chicago, you knew that I was the one who got to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game and then realized that I left my tickets at home. Luckily, it was only a 4 block jog back to my place!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What have I gotten myself into?

Meet Jake. Jake is my second foster dog. I've had him since Sunday afternoon. He's a bit scary looking, and aside from Pocainio (the guy in a previous post, who sadly passed away recently), he's got the largest head of any dog I've ever seen. But he's a sweetie. Kinda whiny, but sweet.But here's my dilemma. I don't know if I want to keep fostering. Here's why:

I love dogs. I think that's pretty obvious. I agreed to take in foster dogs because how can I resist?? But, the foster dogs I've had (all 2 of them) are, not surprisingly, starved for attention. Any time I try to give Wrigley some love, they nudge their way in and hijack belly rubs. They kick Wrigley off the bed and sleep nuzzled up next to me. That used to be Wrigley's job. Don't get me wrong, Wrigs isn't getting totally screwed. He gets wrestling buddies and has company while I'm at work. But I'm wondering if it's really worth it. I have a special place in my heart for Wrigley and am having a hard time dividing my attention between one spoiled dog and one incredibly needy dog.

Also, two dogs is a LOT more work than one dog. I used to think that two dogs would be like having another half of a dog - sure you've got to feed it and walk it, but you're already doing that anyway! Wrong! It's more like having 2 and a half dogs. Walking two dogs is an exercise in chaos management. My neighbors have literally been outside laughing at me as I've walked Jake and Wrigley. It's comical...to them.

Then you can add in the stress that comes with having a dog you don't know staying at your house. Hunter, the first foster dog, was very skittish. I couldn't have other people or dogs over without going through a big introduction. And there's also the destruction factor - if I leave it for 5 minutes, will it eat my shoes? While I'm at work will it destroy my house? I've had to put Jake in a crate because he's part kangaroo and clears the baby gate (downstairs is "doggie-proofed") with no effort. As soon as he's in there he starts barking and crying. But I can't let him loose...what if he eats my couch? My walls? My carpet? My furniture?

And most importantly, the addition of a foster dog seems to have an effect I hadn't considered. Taking in a foster dog doesn't just affect me, it also affects others in my life. Some people aren't dog people. Or they have dogs that freak my foster dog out. Or they have kids and I have no idea how a foster will act around kids.

So, I'm having an internal battle. I love helping dogs find their "forever homes," but it may just be too much for me and Wrigley. I feel guilty and selfish, but after this week, I think it's time to find another way to help out.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Foster Mom

I went to Petco last week to buy Wrigley some goodies. When I got there I saw my friend Jenn's car in the parking lot. I thought, "Cool, Jenn's here. Bet she's buying something for her cats." I still hadn't clued in to the fact that she was there at the dog and puppy adoption clinic. So I walk in, go find Jenn (and our other friend, Jen - it's very confusing - there are so many Jen/Jenn's up here!) and the two of them try to make me get a puppy. They're evil, those two. I was somehow strong enough to resist the puppies, but I got suckered in by an "older" dog, Hunter. Really, he's just a large puppy. I took him out of his crate, walked him outside, started thinking, "Hmmm, I've thought about a second dog before..." But I still wasn't ready for the commitment. For crying out loud, I'd only gone to the store to get some nail cutting tool for Wrigs, not a new brother! The lady running the clinic is even more evil than the two Jen/Jenn's. She says, "You know, you don't have to keep him. He just needs a foster home." Then she goes on to tell me that the non-profit adoption clinic has rented office space to store dogs because they don't have enough foster homes. She had me at "office space." I'm a sucker, and I volunteered to take Hunter as my foster dog. How could I resist that face??

Wrigley couldn't have been happier with the addition of a 24/7 wrestling buddy to the house. I got them to stop wrestling long enough to snap this picture, but then they were back at it.
Hunter went up to the Eagle River adoption clinic this week where he was adopted twice. The first time he was returned quickly (he didn't warm up to the husband), and he was adopted right before closing by another couple. I wish him luck - I hope he finds his forever home! (Wrigley is still sleeping from a week of wrestling!)

Some of you have asked if I'd become too attached to a foster dog to give it up. I was scared that would happen to me. Luckily, I'm genuinely happy that Hunter may have found his home (he's on a 10 day trial - he could be back here before you know it, making this adoption thing kind of anti-climatic). I just want him to have a good life (he'd had a rough one prior to now). But, I am human, and when a lady stopped by to pick him up to take him to the adoption clinic, I shed a tear when I realized that that could be the last time I ever see that guy. He's a sweetie.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy 2009!! My fingers have thawed out just enough to type this post - it's been COLD here lately. It was -18 when I left my house this morning, and now it's warmed up to a balmy -16. I can't wait until we get to the positive digits again - it'll feel tropical!!

Here's a quick recap of the rest of my 2008:
I went up to Fairbanks with Mike for Thanksgiving, and it was a blast. I met many of Mike's friends, and there are some characters up there! Fairbanks folks live a little differently than the rest of the world. Running water is a luxury, everyone owns at least 2 dogs, and people think -10 degrees is warm. Freaks. Except for the dog part - that's pretty cool. We pulled up to a house for one of many parties, and 18 dogs greeted my car. Wrigley was in heaven. We took a few outings on skis, a trip to Chena, and I got to mush (think Iditarod) at my friend Tom's house. I've graduated from riding in the sled (two years ago) to riding a tandem sled (last year) to driving my own 4 dog team! I only fell once, though it was in the first 10 feet of my "driving" - I didn't realize how fast those dogs would take off. Like bats out of hell, I tell ya. I managed to hold on for dear life the rest of the way. We went over to a friend's of Mike's for Thanksgiving, and holy cow, that was great. We got to feed sheep and hang out with two of the world's largest dogs. Check out the noggin that on that guy! It's pretty unbelievable.

I flew back to Illinois for Christmas and spent about a week in Springfield and Chicago. Much of my time in Springfield was spent catching up with folks I haven' t seen in way too long, and also tagging along to my sister's wedding planning appointments. If I ever get married, I'm either eloping, or Loren is planning my wedding. I can't believe the number of decisions that have to be made! By the way, the weather back in Illinois was much worse than in Anchorage - it rained and froze, and ice was everywhere. Thank goodness I had my handy ice grippers along! Oh, and I scored a food dehydrator for Christmas...first up, beef jerky!!

Right before the new year I got to go flying again with my buddy. He's about to sell his plane (sniffle, sniffle), so it was great to get out and enjoy it again. We flew up on a bluebird day and headed towards Denali. Fan-fricking-tastic!!
I've been getting out and skiing a fair bit, though most of it has been on classic or skate skis. I've not spent nearly enough time on tele skis, which is heart breaking. Actually, I've only tele skied TWO times this winter. That's pathetic! What to do?? How about make a New Year's resolution to tele ski MUCH more?! Done!