Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 Virginia Serum Run And Blue Ridge Challenge

Location: Armuchee, GA
Time - 9:42 Eastern Standard Time
Temperature: 45 degrees F (7C)
Conditions: Overcast, wet
Forecast: Partly cloudy today and tomorrow. Highs in the 50s, lows in the 20s

Hey all! We're back from a weekend of running and racing in Southwest Virginia! There was enough snow on the trail to run with sleds, even though it doesn't look like it from the photo above. That was taken as we came into the finish line of the race - there was much more snow out on the trail itself. I ran the 4-6 dog class with Bonnie and Susan in lead and Holly in wheel, along with another dog named Kenobi, whom I borrowed from Brett, one of my SE mushing friends.

The starting line and finish line were pretty snowless, but once we got out on the 2.2-mile trail, there was plenty of snow and my little team FLEW! I am also pleased to report that even young Holly kept her line tight and kept up with the flowers, who take running as Serious Business as well as Serious Fun.

I am also VERY excited to report that we WON the 4-6 dog class! We ran the course a full two minutes faster than the other mushers. This marks our first win in the sled dog racing world! I am sooooo proud of my girls (and Kenobi too, since he supplied a good bit of dog power as well. Thanks Brett!).

Our trophy was the above-pictured bowie knife. Very cool and very original, IMHO! I like it. I call it my Giant Knife and refer to it as often as possible. Someone's cutting an apple in the kitchen? "I can help you, I have a Giant Knife." Going for a walk in the woods? "I'll bring my Giant Knife so we can defend ourselves!" I think my family is probably getting tired of hearing the words 'Giant' and 'Knife' used in the same sentence! Hah.

But seriously, we had an absolute blast over the weekend. We got to meet up with friends we hadn't seen in a while, talk to people we'd met at the KY event, and just enjoy being in our crazy sled dog community.

I also did a presentation at the banquet on Saturday night, mainly about my experiences working at MCK and what it was like for someone from the Southeast who does dryland to go do snow mushing for two years and then return to dryland...

We met a lot of really cool people, including a young girl who charmed Susan! I was quite impressed with this because, as most of you know, Susan is pretty darn suspicious of strange people and usually takes a long time to warm up. However she just sat there happily letting this girl pet her!

Susan and friend.

Anyways, we were really lucky to be able to use sleds. The trail on Sunday had less snow than on Saturday. Another day and I don't think we would have been able to run.

A MAJOR thank-you goes out to Marcia of Siberian Husky Assist who has put so much effort into making this event happen (and who invited me to speak at the banquet). Marcia deserves a lot of credit for helping get the Southeast dryland mushing community connected and promoted.

The crazy thing is, upon returning to Georgia, there was STILL snow on the ground! Not a huge amount and it was pretty rotten but seriously people, there was still snow on the ground in Armuchee GA after a snowstorm A WEEK EARLIER!

If Georgia Winters were typically like this, it wouldn't be *quite* so bad down here. I'd say something along the lines of "As far as I'm concerned that high pressure system over Greenland can just stay there" but the general populace of this area would come after me with torches and pitchforks, as would my sled dog friends from the New England area who claim I'm stealing their snow! So I won't say that. :D (even though I just did).

In the meantime, trying to get back into the swing of things in this strangely Wintry season in Georgia.



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Eight Rules Of Dogsledding In Georgia

Location: Armuchee, GA
Time - 10:00pm Eastern Standard Time
Temperature: 24 degrees F (-4C)
Conditions: Clear
Forecast: Partly cloudy tonight and tomorrow. Highs in the thirties, lows in the teens.

When you are a musher in Georgia, there are certain things you have to accept.

#1: It doesn't snow here. Ever.

#2: If it does snow, it's usually a few brief flurries

#3: On the rare occasion that there is snow enough to cover the ground it is only a dusting and absolutely NEVER more than half an inch.

#4: Even if you have a little bit of snow like this, it will never be enough to run your dogs with a sled.

#5: If by some freak of nature it snows several inches and you ARE able to take out a team with a sled, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for mushing in Georgia.

#6: And it will decidedly not happen again. And definitely not in the same year. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN WITHIN A MONTH.

#7: If the impossibility described above DOES happen, the snow will immediately melt and you won't be able to run again.

#8: You absolutely will not, WILL NEVER be able to take a team out with a sled FOUR DAYS after the snow has fallen.

So I think it's worth noting that ALL EIGHT of these rules have been broken this year, with the dump of snow we got this past weekend making headlines throughout the Southeast.

Serious snowfall. Cold temperatures. Being able to sled (although the past couple of days the trail has been pretty icy and not in as good shape), snowshoe day after day...

Not your typical Georgia weather but we're loving it. This is apparently being caused by a high pressure system over Greenland. Bonnie and Susie and I (and the rest of the team) have this to say about it:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Waiting On The Weather

Location: Armuchee, GA
Time - 8:50pm Eastern Standard Time
Temperature: 32 degrees F (0 C)
Conditions: Cloudy, still
Forecast: Snow tonight and tomorrow. Significant accumulation expected. Lows in the 20s, highs in the 30s

Look at little Susan sitting by the Christmas tree! She's not sitting in that chair, you know. Or she's not supposed to be, anyway. Do you see a dog on the chair? Nooooo, the chair is empty.

It's supposed to snow tonight and tomorrow. They've been predicting it for days. "Up to seven inches of accumulation" the forecasts were saying days ago. And even right now it's supposed to start snowing.

However going outside right now, it doesn't look very promising. The sky is overcast and the temperature is right at freezing and nothing is falling. Originally they were saying this "snow event" was going to start between 8 and 9pm tonight.

Looks like it's running behind.

Speaking of running, I've been running scooter teams. Just hooking up two dogs at a time because any more would be more than I'm comfortable running with a scooter (although if this mythical *snow* materializes, I'll be able to run everyone with the sled).

I'm going to go look out the window again.

Nope, still nothing! Come on, snow...

And here we have a photo my Mom took of Holly with her stuffie, Squeaky Norman the hedgehog. Holly loooooves Squeaky Norman. She's such a good little dog. And, um, about that "fostering" business...We're all getting a little too attached to her now and would miss her too much if she went somewhere else.

And, if you realllllly want to know why the hedgehog is named Squeaky Norman, it's after the giant hedgehog, Spiny Norman from the Monty Python skit which I've included below. Beware extreme sillyness that has nothing to do whatsoever with sled dogs but I'm posting anyway just because I can. Feel free to skip over it if Monty Python isn't your thing.

And with that, good night and hopefully it will start snowing!



Saturday, January 1, 2011

RIP April

Location: Armuchee, GA
Time - 9:30pm Eastern Standard Time
Temperature: 51 degrees F (11C)
Conditions: Cloudy, raining
Forecast: Raining tonight, partly cloudy tomorrow with highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s.

Rest in peace, April-Come-She-Will, our English Springer Spaniel. You brought us much love and companionship over the fifteen years of your life. We love you and we will miss you.