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Mark & Karen
Ramstead
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North Wapiti Siberian Husky Kennels
Iditarod 2004 - Tales from the Trail

January 14, 2004

 
Watson Lake, Yukon

Well, here we are in Watson Lake, Yukon. Still a long way to go to get to Willow and it has already been quite the trip.

I'm not sure where exactly to start everything. I guess our problems started back on the 7th when we took the dogs into the vet for their 'pre-trip' blood work. As I reported in my last entry, there was a 'bobble' in Orion's blood work. Unfortunately, after a few more trips to the vet and 5 more blood tests, it has passed 'bobble' status and moved into the 'full fledged problem' arena. The thing is Orion doesn't know it and is still happy, bouncy, eating great and full of beans. He is along for the trip north, but whether or not he will be a candidate for Iditarod will depend on how he responds to his treatment. As to what it is he has, the jury is still out on that. What the blood work is showing is a low platelet value. As I said he is showing no outward symptoms of anything being wrong, so we have, obviously, caught whatever the problem is early and that gives us hope we will get him over it completely and quickly.

Our next problem occurred on Sunday. Mark called home and said, "I hit a deer on the way to work" - Never good news to hear. He quickly assured me that he was okay, as was the Suburban, which he was driving because his little commuter Ford Escort was already at the airport in Edmonton, so he can have transportation when he flies home from Alaska on Sunday. The report on the deer was not so good. He paid for his indecision about crossing the road with his life - poor guy. That just furthers my belief that when you make a decision you should just stick to it and never turn around and go back due to second thoughts!

Monday, although incredibly busy, went well until early evening. I had blocked out time after feeding the dogs and doing some packing for clearing up the 70+ emails sitting in my computer Inbox that required answers from me. I also had some Internet banking, updating of my 'Dog Running' Database and 'Drop Bag' Database, and transferring of files/address books to my laptop to do. Not 15 minutes into my time on the computer the darn thing went kaput. It appears to be a problem with the power supply. Mark spent about 15 minutes fussing with it and announced that it was going to have to make a trip to the 'doctor' when he got back from Alaska. That left me feeling very unsettled and unprepared for my trip, but there was nothing I could do about it. (If you emailed me in the last while and where expecting an answer, best to resend the email to me).

Tuesday morning came early. We rolled out of bed at 4:30 so we could get on the road at a decent hour. Packing actually went pretty well. For a while it looked like we weren't going to have enough room in the truck and the 'Y-Haul', but miraculously, it all fit! We loaded the 'A' team into the dog truck, rearranged and fed the 'left behind' dogs, I went by and said 'goodbye' to everyone, did a short phone interview with the National Post, and we hit the road. That's always a time of mixed emotions for me - I'm very keen and excited to head to Alaska, but I do hate leaving my dogs and home for so long. 

At dusk, Mark turned on the headlights and our smooth day fell apart. All the dashboard lights on the truck and the headlights started flicking and going out. We pulled over in the next little town and Mark disconnected the trailer wires. That had to be the problem, as everything was working fine when Mark took the dog truck to work on Monday. Sure enough, the lights quit flicking and it APPEARED we had headlights again. One peculiar thing was that the radio on the truck was 'stuck' - it was working, but we couldn't turn it off, change the station, or the volume. It was a quirky and somewhat amusing problem now, but I figured it would get old fast when we were out of range of that station and could only get static. About this time, Mark discovered we actually didn't have headlights, just our daytime running lights (a Canadian safety thing) and that just wasn't going to do out here in the middle of nowhere. We nursed the truck to a little gas station at the Eaglesham, Alberta turnoff. Lucky for us 'The Emporium' turned out to be a really nice little place with very kind and helpful owners. Two hours, lots of friendly advice, a call to an old friend who is a parts manager for a Ford dealership, a lot of fuses, and a bunch of swearing later - we had headlights again. We took time to have a pizza at the Emporium and got back on the road. 

Now the weather decided to take its turn at us. The next 2 hours to our friends, Scott and Denise Linley's place in Farmington, B.C. rate among the worse hours of driving we have ever done with the dog truck - and we've driven in a lot of miserable weather. Patches of heavy fog and freezing rain reduced our speed to a crawl - but at least we could see where we were going!!! 

Finally, at 10pm, we pulled into Linley's. We are so lucky to have such patience, kind friends as Scott and Denise. We are always arriving on their doorstep at weird hours and keeping them from a good night sleep, yet they always greet us with hugs and smiles.

The day held one last nasty surprise for us. As we were dropping dogs around the truck, I made a stupid mistake and allowed Herman a little too close to 'in heat' Olena - I have no excuse, I know better, but it had been a long day and I guess I wasn't thinking straight. As I stepped around the truck to grab the pooper-scooper, Herman made his move and bred Ollie. It was a short breeding and I have my fingers (and toes and eyes and everything else I can cross) crossed that the breeding didn't take. If it did, Ollie will be busy whelping puppies while the team and I are on Iditarod. I'm sick about it.

Thankfully, today was a better day on the road. The weather wasn't great, with freezing rain this morning and blowing snow this evening, but compared to yesterday - today has been a piece of cake.

Karen

Karen's Diary - 2004 Edition


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