Friday, October 20, 2023

Iditarod Training

Our new base in Seward, Alaska was much more remote than Anchorage. During tourist season Seavey's Ididaride holds dogsledding experiences here in town. Us, being the intrepid adventurers you know and love, are here outside of that season and so that area is closed for the winter. Which means we are now driving over to doggy training camp in Sterling, AK.

On our journey we drove up behind an amusingly Alaskan republican's truck.

He had a Sarah Palin for Congress bumper sticker with the classic "drill, baby, drill" slogan on it. She would later lose.

On the other side of the truck there seems to be a sticker depicting republican senator Lisa Murkowski in a loving embrace with Joe Biden.

We stopped for a bite in Cooper Landing Brewing Company, coincidentally located in Cooper Landing, Alaska. We had another amusing lesson in Alaskan state regulations.

This was kind of weird. You buy a beer and put a tag on the board, then later someone can take it off the board and redeem it. Some of the conditions seemed kind of obscure. For example one was only supposed to be redeemed by someone for who Alaska is the 50th state they've visited. Another is very specifically for someone from Leland High School in San Jose, CA class of '98.

They had a pretty cool.. escape pod outside?

Seavey's Ididaride parking lot made it pretty clear this was a place I had never seen before. They had a mobile dog kennel truck thing.

They had a mountain of dog food.

The Seavey family is an Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race dynasty. Mitch Seavey has won the race three times and his son has won 6.

The dogs were living in rougher conditions than I had expected. Each little hovel was elevated off the ground in case of a heavy snow, so they had to jump to get in. Honestly I was surprised at how these dogs looked like just random mutts.

In popular depiction dog sled dogs are like magical white wolves with ice blue eyes. A lot of these dogs were so slender and tough looking that they wouldn't be out of place sleeping by the side of the road in a developing country.

Ernest seemed amused.

I feel like I've made a meaningul accomplishment every time I show my son something that he finds so intriguing that his mouth hangs open while he stares at it. Of course at this point that amazing thing could just as well be a pinecone as a trip to the nation's largest state. Fun fact alert: Alaska is more than 400 times the size of Rhode Island.

As there was no snow, Sybil our guide harnessed a team of dogs to an ATV to give them a little run around the training course. The dog's must like it because many of them were pacing and whining wanting to be picked.

Sybil said that there's 147 dogs out here total.

Sybil is British and had a fun accent and the ATV was very loud, so my listening comprehension was low despite the fact that she talked nonstop about everything regarding the dogs. She really seemed to be a lifer in this profession. I think she said she knew most of the dog's names which I thought was impressive.

Also another lie that I've been told by movies is that they yell several different commands to the dogs, to get them to turn left or right or whatever, but they never say "mush". That's like the one thing I thought I knew about this.

We were initially just going to hold the big man on this ride but I'm glad that we went to get the car seat. This is still a vehicle after all and I wanted him to be all nice and secure.

Afterward we got the very brown, not at all white dogs some waterbowls.

We got to meet some of the puppies.

They were having a good time chewing on my shoelaces. Ernie likes to mess with my shoes too so I'm used to it at this point.

I've been listening to the Princess and the Scoundrel. Han and Leia honeymoon on the Halcyon and I'm in denial that the Starcruiser is shuttered and I will never see it again. It's nice that some of the characters from the experience get to live on in the few books that were written to advertise it.

Once his highness was snuggled up in bed we hit the airbnb hot tub and had ourselves a brew.

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