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

January 15, 2004

 
"Top Ten" Lists

Karen & Mark's Top Ten Worst Things
About Traveling the Alaska Highway List.

10.

Paying $2.50 for a cinnamon bun so stale that it takes an entire $2.00 cup of weak coffee to reconstitute it in your stomach.
 
9. Bushes and trees along the side of the road that look like antlers. I'm fairly convinced the caribou carefully cultivate and prune these shrubs and sit further back in the trees laughing like crazy when poor drivers mistake them for wildlife at dusk and dark. 
 
8. Hotels being so full that you have to take the $90 room with a Jacuzzi, which you don't have the time or energy to use between dropping dogs and needing to get on the road early the next morning. 
 
7. Watson Lake. I'm sure it must have its nice points, but they escape us. Basically what it takes to make us happy on the road is a decent gas station, a bit of edible food and a clean washroom. We haven't found any of those things in Watson Lake. Our most memorable meal there was the one where Mark ordered a hamburger and it came with a fried egg on top of it. We think someone at the restaurant must have misunderstood the cooking tip that an egg in your hamburger will help hold it together on the grill.
 
6. Snow covered warning signs. You know there is something coming up that you should be concerned about, but damn if you know what it is until you are upon it. 
 
5. Answering the same questions over and over to gas station attendants. "They are not all wolves, are they?" "What have you got in there?? Chickens?? " and "Do they all have names?" are a few of our favorite ones. 
 
4. Steamboat Junction. This is stretch of road between Fort Nelson and Laird Hot Springs. There isn't a mile of flat or straight road and who ever thought that you could fit a semi tractor-trailer and any other vehicle on some of those corners at the same time was seriously delusional or drunk when they planned that road.
 
3. Towing a trailer that slows us down enough that the 45 mph speed U-Haul wants you to stay under is just a dream. 
 
2. Hitting the 'seek' button on the radio and watching it go around and around and around.
 
-- And the number one worst thing about driving on the Alaska Highway...
 
1. The impending fear of crossing the border. It might go good, but if it doesn't those border guards have the ability to wreak havoc with the best of plans.
 

Karen & Mark's Top Ten Best Things
About Traveling the Alaska Highway List.

10. Trapper Rays at Liard Hot Springs and Beaver Creek Lodge. Great food, friendly folks and beautiful log buildings! 
 
9. The high spirits of the veteran dogs who are thrilled about being on the road. At our last drop Grover was making Siberian snow angels on his drop chain, Draco was sticking his nose in the air and inhaling the snow filled air, Odie was bouncing and barking like a puppy and Surge was in his box kicking up straw and wiggling around on his back. 
 
8. Having the time to listen to books on tape. We just finished Ellen Desgeneres' "The Funny Thing is." and it was funny!
 
7. The quality of the light in the north. Especially at this time of year when the daylight hours are short and the sun never gets too high in the sky, it gives the sky almost magical hues and shades that most think only exists in paintings. 
 
6. Teslin, Yukon. If I could find Mark a job there, I'd pull up stakes and move to this picturesque community in a second.
 
5. Running into other dog trucks and having an instant camaraderie with them. Yesterday a sprint musher who lives at Terry Streeper's in Fort Nelson sought us out in a Subway and graciously invited us out if we needed a place to drop, water for the dogs or anything else. We were fine, but we certainly appreciated the offer. 
 
4. The wildlife - as long it stays off the highway - as I was typing this line we had to stop for a cow and calf moose to trot across the road. So far this trip we have seen moose, caribou, a bobcat and a really cute little fox. 
 
3. Having time to sit around and type up top 10 lists
 
2. Steamboat Junction. I know, I know - it made the 'Worst list' but if you survive that part of the drive without being squished into a rock wall or plunging over a cliff, the scenery is spectacular. 
 
-- And the number 1 best thing about driving the Alaska Highway.
 
1. Turning into Howling Dog Farms. Not only is it a terrific place for a musher to stay, but the history, knowledge and experience housed in that place is a thrill to be around. And I never tire of the fact that these people, who are so high on my list of heroes love having us there. 
 

Karen

Karen's Diary - 2004 Edition


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