Friday, December 2, 2016

Iditarod Roster Set: 5 returning champions among 77 teams

A team dog runs down the chute at the
Start of Iditarod 44. Willow, AK.
Dec 1 marked the deadline for teams to enter the 45th Iditarod race, and 77 mushers answered that call. 5 former champions are in the mix: 4-time champion Martin Buser, 4-time champion Jeff King, 4-time and current champion Dallas Seavey, 2-time champion Mitch Seavey, and 2011's champion John Baker are all going after another win. There are 8 countries represented, most mushers hail from the US (the majority of them represent Alaska); Norway, Sweden, France, Canada, England, Hungary, and the Czech Republic all have teams in the mix. 19 mushers are rookies, making 58 mushers veterans of the 1,000 mile race.

A glance at the list spots many familiar names/faces on the list with names like Zirkle, Sass, Redington, Gebhardt, Jonrowe, among others - but it's interesting to note just how many names are off the list. Four time Iditarod Champion and cancer survivor Lance Mackey signed up back in June, but made the announcement in September that he was unable to run as planned. Cim Smyth also signed up only to later withdraw. Rohn Buser decided not to run this year, and the Busers seem to be downsizing their operation. There's a change of the guard looming, it seems, and this is likely going to be an exciting race for a lot of the newer front runners.

With the change of two rules this year for the race, new strategies may emerge that could bring the change quicker than expected. Iditarod rules now state that mushers can bring cell phones/two way communication out onto the trail. They are to be used to report an emergency only (the thought is if something like last year's attacks happen, the musher can call for help). Some mushers have spoken out against the rule change, worried that some teams will misuse the allowance. The board, however, feels the good outweighs the bad.

The other rule change came with as much if not more outcry - that of the rule that no dogs may be carried in a sled trailer. In the last few years since Jeff King first brought one to the race, mushers have built trailers to pull behind their sled to carry equipment and rest dogs on long runs. Mushers like Dallas Seavey seemed to have perfected the strategy to their advantage, keeping their dogs fresh and ready to run making longer rests in the checkpoint easier to bounce back on. Officials give the reason for the change as dog safety, but those that feel the rule directly affects them don't buy the explanation. Strategies will need to change for March, but don't expect that it will change the standings too much. The trailers are only one small element to a successful race.

There has been SOME good news as of late, however! The last few weeks have brought colder temperatures to South Central Alaska, and with those temps snow! Training is underway all over the state with many teams taking to social media to share photos of a winter sight that was once common place. Sure, there's still a long way to go before trails are ready for races, but should the weather continue to cooperate it looks like for the first time in a long while, the race season will be a full one.

92 days until Iditarod runs through Anchorage - who are you cheering for?

Edited: A late entry bumped the roster list to 77. Mail must've been slow. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Disneyland Photos: Frozen the Musical

I have to admit, I reluctantly went into the Frozen Musical with my parents on our last day at Disney. I was (and still am) upset that Aladdin was closed to move in the new obsession. Yes, Frozen was an AMAZING film, and the songs are not just annoyingly catchy - they're well written and sung. But I have been Frozen-fatigued for over two years now. They are overrunning the parks. Too much of a good thing and all that.

But, I did want to give this show a chance - even if walking into the theater I was wishing we'd get the improv magic of the Genie. I wanted to see the "new technology" in action and so I went in. I was plesantly surprised for the most part. While I still prefer the Aladdin show, the cast of Frozen is equally talented. The technology is impressive (though I disagree that "every seat is a good one" as most of the technology works best when you're sitting in the center),

Below are some of the bajillion photos I took of the show. This is probably the only time I'll watch the show unless the people I'm traveling with want to see it. It's not one that I'd go to multiple showings of in the same visit (like I did with Aladdin multiple times).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Beware the Sled Dog Film "Documentary"

Musher Patrick Beall with his team at the Start of Iditarod 2016
Willow, AK  March 6, 2016
It's come to the attention of the mushing world that a self proclaimed "expose" of the "horrors of dog mushing" documentary is getting set to debut. They've been making waves for the last 24 hours. Naturally Iditarod and mushers alike have come out against it, but the sad fact of the matter is with the Country of Canada BACKING THIS FILM. It is not going away.

However, they seem to have misjudged how the mushing community would respond. I'm not sure if they thought they'd stay silent, or if they would come out looking like the blood thirsty monsters that the "documentation" (I hate using that term when referring to these people) no doubt believes they would be. Nope, instead they are calmly and intelligently refuting the accusations being levied at them.

For me this is not a shock. I've known quite a few mushers for years now - from all levels of the sport. Most are the salt of the earth kind of people who would do anything for their dogs (and DO). I could probably film them all and turn it negatively if I was such a person, but unlike Fern Levitt (the "documentation") I don't see the need to be a fiction writer.

One of the mushers supposedly featured in the "film" has spoken out via social media. Patrick Beall trains and runs out of Mitch Seavey's Kennel in Seward and Sterling, Alaska. Patrick was part of the Seavey puppy team in Iditarod 2016 and was told by the film makers that they wanted to follow a rookie in the race. They had to get permission from the ITC. From what I can tell they lied and provided false information on multiple levels. This is not surprising, we see this all the time with the Michael Moores of film making. But it's no less disgusting.

Here's what Patrick had to say this afternoon:

"I want to make a statement to the social media realm currently reacting to this anti sled dog propaganda. The film "Sled Dogs" will be coming out soon, attached below is the brutal trailer portraying the sport in an extremely negative light. If you don't read anything else, please know I was lied to and the intentions of the film completely misrepresented. I am a person that goes through life with complete trust in people and will never give into the prying urge of cynicism. Please feel free to share with whomever you see fit.
Last fall was one of the most exciting of my life. On top of having qualified for Iditarod the prior seasons and working so hard to get to the starting line. Things were just plain good. I was training an amazing group of two year olds at Mitch Seavey's kennel and had been a Seavey handler for a good spell by then. I was confident in my know-how and my drive to conquer the goal of reaching Nome. I remember it vividly, I received an email from Fern Levitt asking me if I would be interested in participating in a documentary. I, of course, thought this would be so cool and accepted. She explained she wanted to do a film on what it takes for a rookie to run The Last Great Race. Again, I was nothing but excited to share my love for the sport and the amazing dogs involved. We set up times for her and her crew to come join in the fall. They took me to dinner and were way cool people. The next day we filmed. I was four wheeler training at the time so they hooked up go pros and you name it. It seemed so neat that I was being granted this opportunity to share my life with others. After the first filming session was over they interviewed me and asked basic questions you would imagine any tourist asking. And naturally like I always do shared my passion with enthusiasm and pure love. They were ecstatic with their footage and before they left gave me hugs and told me how much love they see if have for the dogs. So it goes...
They came up for another training session. Same results. Same enthusiasm. Same praise for what it was I was doing and how well I cared for my wild pack of sled dogs. After this they interview me again. It seemed again like a normal interview explaining what it was I was doing and how my dogs were. So, they decided after the fact they wanted to follow me through the Iditarod. I said, something along the lines of "hell yeah!" Naturally they needed permission from Iditarod, which they received. Again, because they duped me and they were able to dupe ITC. As it may be...
They followed me during Iditarod. They were there at the ceremonial and re-start. Just as excited as I was. I saw a glimmer in their eyes of how intriguing and glorious the atmosphere at this event can be. They gave me high fives and like they always had during filming been so impressed with everything that was going on.
The film crew first met me in rainy pass. I was a little down because I had added a 50 mile run to my Iditarod by taking a wrong trail. However, the film guy and sound guy were trying to cheer me up. They seemed like friends I had known for ages. I truly enjoyed their company and good attitudes.
I saw them next in McGrath at my 24 hr layover. They were so impressed with the fact I was passing people and making up time despite my wrong turn. I remember them saying to me how amazed at my good attitude in times of adversity they were. They loved the fact I whistled to my dogs when I booted them. They were having so much fun doing what they love "filming" what I love, taking care of high end athlete sled dogs.
Again, I saw them in Galena. By now I was rolling, my dog team was doing the best they had been the whole race. I was in the zone of efficiency and had no other thoughts but "man I can't believe I'm doing The Iditarod Trail" and "man my dogs look amazing, im so unbelievably proud of these guys." In galena we pretty much slapped hands. Next, I was on my way to Nommmme!
I got to Nome in 11 days 23 hours. On the sea ice outside of the burled arch I had an overwhelming since of joy and love for everything. I cried. I cried like a mother and father would cry seeing their new infant for the first time. I had to get it out before getting to the finish line because hey I'm a tough guy 😎and I didn't want the camera to catch tears of joy on film....
What might have been the best day of my life, I came down front street, every dog pulling in harness. I could see the arch. I could see the cameras. I could see, My Mother. My mom was able to see me finish the race. I don't think she had missed one important day of my life. It was the most special day I can remember. She was balling tears of un seen emotion and love. I just hugged her. Man it was amazing. I then hugged my amazing lead dog Magnus and just lay there on the ground with him. I was so damn happy. All of this was of course filmed by this crew. Pure life in the moment joy. The kind that you can't stage, you can't fake, you can't ask even the best actor to accomplish. And guess what, they were there witnessing all of it. With their cameras and their false agenda. Behind their fake smiles and congratulations.
I later sat with them for a beer. They bought me several and just talked to me. With no cameras or sound equipment. They were amazed. They gave me so many compliments and I found them genuine. It's amazing to me it was all in vain. For some dumb film that misrepresents everything sled dogs stand for.
I can only say one thing... what they did is far worse than any claim they try to make in their "documentary". They took someone's genuine love for the world and his passion for something and turned it negative. For that, I feel sorry for them. I will not stoop to their level and fall prey to the inaccuracies. It is a shame we live in a world where you have to question everyone's intentions. But I will not allow them to steal my joy and love for this world and the sport of dog mushing.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have regarding the film. I will share with you everything I have learned and all the truths I know. I love you all."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Disneyland 2016 - Less than two months to go!

We have less than 2 months till we're in Disneyland, and you know what that means: ADVANCE DINING RESERVATIONS! Still working on making another reservation or two, but then it's just waiting until they release the park hours for our trip. Still wish they'd release them 60 days out. It'd make it all so much easier. But I'll just keep whining, haha.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Working on a #Youtube channel

Trying to do more with my youtube channel than the random family vids, dog vids, and if I practice enough I can do some better Iditarod videos. I'm also really enjoying periscope as of late, so I am thinking of doing some live vlogging come next March. We'll see. I'm not a fan of being in front of the camera, ya know?

You can find my channel by clicking here. Like, comment, and share PLEASE!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chances for Past Iditarod Champions in 2017?

I was asked this question the other day on Facebook - what are the chances for each of the five past champions currently signed up for Iditarod 45. 4-time Champions Martin Buser, Jeff King, Lance Mackey, Dallas Seavey, and 2-time Champion Mitch Seavey all signed up on the first day. All have champion line kennels, experience, and teams... but what are the real odds any of them will come under the burled arch first in Nome? Here are a few of my thoughts.

Martin Buser - Iditarod 44 was not a good race for Buser. He spent most of the training season in Seattle while his son Nikolai recovered from his car wreck. When recovery looked to be going well, Martin made the decision to return and run the race. He made it clear he wasn't in competitive form and would not be making any crazy run for first. Top if off he ended up with pneumonia while running the race. Not a good way to go. This coming season Martin's already made comments suggesting he won't be running for lead this year either.

Talk at the BBQ suggested Martin is downsizing - son Rohn is not planning to run this year, and Martin has said he wants to enjoy other things. Cindy Abbott told BBQ attendees she'd gotten a few of Martin's dogs. Honestly, the only way Martin wins - if this is really his outlook for the future - is if a bunch of other teams fall into the Norton Sound and are swept away and he makes it across.

Lance Mackey - the 44th Iditarod did not go as planned for Mackey. While still better than his outing in 2015, he still had issues with his team being ill/not wanting to go. He backtracked to Ophir for longer rest. The heat and the fast pace were a little too much for his young team. However, the rest of 2016 has been very kind. Mackey is winning races on the race car circuit (yes, you read that right) and is the proud papa to a bouncing baby Boy! The 4 time champ seemed in great spirits at the BBQ last month, and is confident in his team. That doesn't mean he'll be coming in first. All mushers are confident their team is awesome. With Mackey's health (thought he looks great these days) always a question, and the fact that he's still in the rebuilding process, he most likely won't be first... but I've been wrong before.

Jeff King - Really, Jeff should've been closer to first this past Iditarod. Sadly, due to someone's poor choices (attempted murder, in my opinion) Jeff's race was done just as it was getting started. Jeff's been so close to winning his fifth title, when his team has given up on him. Freak storms, young dogs, snow machines. It will be interesting to see how King comes back this year. I'm expecting another top 5 finish for Mr. The King this year... and with the right set of circumstances, he could win.

Mitch Seavey - this year's runner up, Mitch Seavey was just hours behind his son Dallas under the burled arch. Mitch is a competitor, and has said he's felt the best he's ever felt. Mitch's team did far better than expected considering several of his key leaders were left at home due to late season injury (sore muscles, and a jammed toe). They pushed with Dallas all the way up the coast, but it was the hills at the end that did them (or him?) in. Barring another season with injuries plaguing the team, Mitch could very well make a third title his.... of course I'd argue that Jeff has about an equal chance of winning.

Dallas Seavey - Iditarod Insider has basically declared him King with their recap video of the 2016 race. That could mean nothing, but I have to wonder if it isn't going to jinx him. They did pretty much the same thing with Mackey after his fourth win, and now he's lucky if he makes top 20. Of course, other factors are at play - namely musher health, which Dallas is younger and in a lot of ways healthier. (Which makes Mackey's 4 wins that much more impressive.) Dallas is very goal driven and athletic, but the other mushers are catching on - especially the ones around his age. Dallas is the odds on favorite, but winning that fifth title has eluded all other 4-time champions (except Rick Swenson). It's going to be difficult - but then, so were the other 4 wins, right?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Highlights from June

Well, this blog has been a big ol bit of boring lately, that’s mainly due to the fact that I just don’t have the motivation to come up with things to blog about. I’ve been quite busy this last month and a half, which also makes it hard for me to want to do anything but veg and goof around online.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Movie Review: Disney-Pixar's Finding Dory

Opening weekend for any highly anticipated summer film is always busy. When it’s a Disney-Pixar film, you can guarantee families will come out in droves to catch a peek at the latest greatest animated film. Funnily enough, however, audiences have had just as many adults as kids attend the showings. Why? Well, aside from it being a Pixar film (they almost always appeal to audiences of all ages) it’s Dory that loveable forgetful blue fish voiced by Ellen Degeneres. When she first swam into our hearts back in 2003 no one imagined her backstory… but oh a story it is.

The film begins with a flashback to Dory’s childhood, she has suffered from Short Term Memory Loss her entire life it seems. In Finding Nemo, Dory says that it runs in her family – however that doesn’t seem to be true in Finding Dory. Her parents try very hard to teach their child little helps to hold on to her memories, but it proves futile when Little Dory is swept away from her family and is lost out in the open ocean.

She swims around looking for her family from childhood into maturity and that’s when she runs into Marlin. The rest of her past is documented in Finding Nemo. We find Dory happily settled into life in the Reef with Marlin and Nemo, when the topic turns to family and legacy and belonging. Dory doesn’t think she has memories of her family – her parents – but she begins having pieces of memories flash through and it’s both confusing and inspiring. Dory decides she must find out who she is and where she comes from.

I’ve seen a lot of reviews online warning that if you are a parent of a foster or adopted child that you should stay away from this film. I am not a parent, and I was not a child in need of a family, but I really didn’t see it as bad for that type of family. It may be with the way that the parents did not give Dory up, that she was just lost and they were waiting, and that can bring up some very difficult emotions, but I don’t think it’s a horrible adoption story. A lot of adoptions are open or otherwise positive to both the biological and adoptive families. I think, like any film, one should go into it knowing their child and what they can handle. If their adoption is a very emotionally confusing part of their life, maybe skip it and wait for the DVD. (But, then, I also did not agree that Tangled was a negative film for families of adoption, but I was told I was wrong then, too.)

I think more disturbing is the somewhat bullying of those that are “different” or “special needs” that was more blatant and kinda sat funny. There are two Seal Lions (both male however with the way they were animated, one should have been female, but I digress) hanging out on a rock. They’re just chillin’ pretty helpful to Nemo and Marlin, and then another Sea Lion swims up to get on the rock. They mention that Gerald has some special needs, and he definitely has a look about him that suggests he’s not “all there”, and the Sea Lions bark at him to get off the rock. They tease him, call him names… now I know this was supposed to be this movie’s version of the Sea Gulls in Finding Nemo (the Sea Lions shout “Get off! Get off! Get off!” and it sounds like the “barking” Sea Lions do), and it’s funny. But why did the one that they didn’t want on their rock have to be the one that was “different”? These two Sea Lions were part of the heroic conclusion. It shouldn’t have been praised.

And I’m not one of those that sees a bully around every corner or thinks that we need to make everything about bullying. I probably classify as a bully half the time. I’m just saying if it made ME come away with a weird feeling, I can’t be the only one to notice it and wonder if Pixar missed the mark a bit with that one.

The third issue that’s made its rounds around the internet that I’d like to address is the Lesbian Couple. Honestly, if there hadn’t been a big stink about it online and throughout certain circles, I’d have never thought that they were a couple. It was not a family – not that I noticed – it was a couple of girls/women at a Sea Life Center. If THAT is what makes them Gay, then I’ve had several “gay days” at the local Sea Life Center in Seward with my girls over the years. So if THAT is what is keeping you from this film – and not the fact that the main character Dory is voiced by a loud and proud Lesbian (who is extremely talented and one part of her life is not enough to suggest otherwise) – then get over it. It was blown WAY out of proportion by all sides.

What was more offensive or wrong about the film was how ridiculous a lot of it was. Some scenes were trying just a little too hard. I think a lot of it was they didn’t want to use the same jokes and plotline as last time, but that fell a little flat. Still, it was a solid Sequel and not the worst film Pixar has put out. I went in expecting to be extremely disappointed, but came away with those lovely Pixar emotions we’ve all come to expect (if you don’t cry for Baby Dory then I don’t know that we can be friends). I laughed so hard I cried in a couple of spots – just like when I first saw Finding Nemo.
Characters that just didn’t work, for me, were the whales. I honestly don’t know why either of them were really there. It was a little too far-fetched how they worked into the climax and conclusion. But that’s just me. I’m sure many more were in love with them. I was excited to see a Beluga, though, I have to admit.

If you haven’t gone to see it, when you go watch through the end of the credits. It’s probably one of the best scenes of the whole movie. I won’t give it away other than to say I was so excited to see the characters they used for that scene. Epic.

This movie deserves a view in the theaters – we saw it in the regular format, not 3D and it was enough. I will admit in 2003 I saw Finding Nemo four times in theaters, but that movie was THAT GOOD. It was a feast for the eyes and the heart. This film takes place mainly in a Sea Life Center and it just isn’t as colorful, bright, nor is it as much fun.

Have you seen the movie? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Busy May... Busy June

It's summer and so that means I have little time or energy to worry about my blog. It's no wonder I even sleep this time of year (very difficult with the sun shining through my window at all hours of the day and night. Land of the midnight sun after all.

I'm basically just posting this because I have a brand new laptop that I'm still getting used to. I am not a fan of the keyboard, but I'm sure I will deal with it and it won't be so bothersome after a little bit of usage.

So much to blog about, and hopefully once family is gone and VBS is over I can really update this thing (shoot I never changed the theme from the Iditarod stuff. Gotta figure something out about that soon).


Monday, May 9, 2016

We had a bit of Disney for Mothers Day

For mother's day dad and I offered to make dinner. Asking mom what she wanted she came to the decision that she wanted something like the meal we had at Ohana's back in 2013 on our WDW trip. So off to the internet I went in search of copycat recipes (or official ones) as I couldn't find any in the cookbooks I recently acquired from my grandparents (basically all cookbooks I ever got G'ma are now mine).

So we made enough chicken, beef, and shrimp for 5 people and a little person (aka Delaney the almost 7 year old)... along with bacon wrapped asparagus and grilled veggies. It was SO GOOD and we all had more than we should have so there were very few left overs. But yummmmmmmmm!