Monday, June 27, 2011

Jeff King returns to the Iditarod

4time Iditarod Champion Jeff King (2010)
It didn't take the four time champion to realize he's not done yet. King was one of the first in line Saturday morning to sign up for the 40th Iditarod Race. This is huge news for fans and officials alike. Coming up on a major milestone (fourty years of Iditarod) with some of the biggest name in the sports history lined up for the prize, and along comes the reportedly retired musher to try to nab another title.

King retired after a third place finish in the 2010 race. He had been very vocal prior to the start of the race that it would be his last. He was one of the old dogs, he wanted a break. If you were able to follow the musher on facebook you know he did just that, with trips all over North America as well as Norway to witness a historic sled dog race over there. Followers were bombarded with his political endeavors (let's just say he's not a fan of Palin or any of her picks for any political seat), and were wooed by Jeff's pics of his rescued pig. (Yes, that's right, Wilma the pig.)

The buzz of a return started earlier this year after Jeff returned from Norway and his posts about the race over there. He denied his desire to return. Then late last week Jeff asked for information on the Volunteer picnic - which is also the first day of sign ups. Immediately he was flooded with posts asking if he was returning. He coyly did not directly answer, but his posts leaned more to suggesting he was just in it for the food, not the race.

Then, at the picnic an announcement was made. Jeff King was one of the 47 mushers who signed up that day to put their bid in for the 2012 Champion. He will join the likes of Mitch and Dallas Seavey, Martin Buser, Lance Mackey, Jim Lanier, Paul Gebhardt, Hugh Neff, John Baker, and DeeDee Jonrowe. All capable in their own rights, all vying for the ultimate prize.

Also returning after hiatus: Rookie Pat Moon who ran the race two years ago but was forced to scratch after his accident along the Dal Zel Gorge in which he was rescued by another musher, and Aaron Burmeister  who retired so that he could be on the inside of Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) decisions. Team Norway will also be represented this year with Sigrid Ekran. With the price of travel, and the entry fee for the race, going sky high Team Norway had announced last year that they would most likely not make the trip to Alaska again, but it looks like with the entry fee's being lower this year, and the purse higher, at least one of the team will try their luck again.

Mushers have until sometime in December to sign up for the Last Great Race on Earth. Volunteers will begin signing up for the race around that time. Iditarod 40 has already generated a lot of buzz - a lot of it focussed right now on King and the rivalry he and Mackey share - and it looks like it'll be a race to remember.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Iditarod 2011 BBQ

Every year the Iditarod puts on a feast for their volunteers, and they hold it the last Saturday in June. This ties in with their first meeting of the minds for the next year's race, and the mushers are on hand to sign up. But, even with all of the excitement of the future, the main focus is to celebrate the people who are helping NOW.

I had never attended previous BBQs, something either always came up - or I wasn't aware of it - and so I made it a point not to miss out on it this year (I flaked last year at the last minute because the weather looked icky). I got up super early because the BBQ is in Wasilla (yeah, you know, it's pretty well  known thanks to a certain former Governor of ours) and being in Soldotna I was about 3.5 hours away. My vehicle has issues right now so I had mom take it the night before to have dad check it out. He was unable to due to some technical difficulties, so I drove my mom's car back to their house, dropped my dog off, took my iffy exploder and headed out (parents live in Kenai so it's 4 hours to Wasilla).

The trip was uneventful - aside from rain and my running out of windshield wiper fluid - nothing really happened to warrant a whole lot of time on it. I was running later than I wanted to be, but still made it to Wasilla well before picnic time.

Holding little "Tusty".
I planned on meeting up and snatching Haille to come with. I figured she'd enjoy the games and puppies I knew would be there. The puppies were the saving grace, she never did go play the games, as she was in love with the seven week old and two week old pups that were out there for HQ guests and BBQers alike. I think if she could take them all home, she would! She was in love with getting to hold them and play with them. She asked questions of the musher and handlers that were there, and at one point Jeff King went over to look at the pups and she talked to him too! How crazy is that?! Little miss shy thing!

My first goal was to find my wonderful friend, Lilian. I met her two years ago volunteering at the Iditarod gift shop table there at the Millennium hotel (which is the official headquarters during the race). She comes every year from Switzerland and is a big favorite of all of us. And not just because she brings us swiss chocolate! Ha ha! She normally doesn't make it over here in teh summer (she takes her vacation around the Iditarod every year! She is my hero!) but she made the exception this year and I'm so glad she did! Haille really liked her, and took a ton of photos of her with my $3000 camera ha ha! She got a couple of good ones of the two of us!

Still have NO idea what we were going for here! LOL

Even though the weather threatened rain, the day was pretty much perfect. A lot of mushers were on hand to sign up for the race (so far the roster is at 47), and some old favorites also came to talk shop (it also helps that they are on the Trail Committee so they were on hand for a meeting before the picnic). Team Seavey was out in full force with Dan, Mitch and Dallas all there. Dallas and Mitch are both in next year's line up. Mitch is still sporting a brace of some sort on his finger (which he sliced off in Ophir causing the Race Marshal to scratch the musher from the race and send him back to Anchorage for surgery. Mitch was back on the trail as a special Iditarod Insider commentator that same week.). Mitch spent a lot of time talking with 2011 Champion John Baker and they seemed to be having a great time talking about what ever it was that they were talking about!

Lance Mackey was "late" to the party, but he strolled right up without much notice from the crowd and signed his name. He'll once again be after #5, trying to tie Rick Swenson (who was absent from the picnic and - so far - the roster!) for most wins. It wasn't long before people realized the head of "Last Chance Kennel" was on the green and soon they flocked to where he stood.

If you read my blog at all you know I'm not a big follower of Mackey's kennel. I prefer others to his style. However, friends of mine from MO were huge fans. They lived in Joplin, MO, and lost their lives in the huge tornado last month. It still seems unreal that Lorie and Glenn will not be around to chat about the Iditarod next year. Lorie was looking forward to see my pictures of the BBQ and had dared me to take a picture with Lance if I got the opportunity. I just laughed at the time. But, when I went into the line with my friend Lilian so she could get her pic with him, I figured I should honor their memory. One thing I have always said about Lance is that he knows how to treat the fans/volunteers.

Me, Lance, Lilian. This is for you, Lorie!
I also had to fan girl over Hugh Neff. He's just such a great personality on the trail, and I love his overall look. He's pretty much fantastic when it comes to dog care and racing in general too, so that's always a plus! Ha ha! I went over and got my picture. He tried to put me at ease by asking if I was a musher and he laughed at my "WHAT?! no." reaction. Ha ha, Hugh. You're *so* funny. goober. I think I just have a "mushers please make fun of me" sign somewhere on me. But the pic came out great, I love it, totally going in my next collage frame!

The last mission of the day was getting our picture with Jeff King. That's right Mr. "I'm Retired" was there. He had most of us buzzing wondering why he was there. He'd posted about the BBQ on his facebook earlier in teh week and when fans asked if he was coming back he pretty much denied it. Well, he lied online because he announced at the end of the BBQ that he was - in fact - on the roster for Iditarod 40. This is a huge boost for so many reasons. Jeff was a face of the Iditarod during the same time as Susan Butcher (he really came into his own as she was on her way out of the sport, but his name was on everyone's lips before then). He's considered the winningest musher. He's a huge celebrity type in Alaska/the sport. And, he pushes Lance to excell. Who knows what will happen now. It's a huge roster already, all the main players (save for, as I said earlier, Rick Swenson) have thrown their name in the pool.

We waited quite a while while Jeff talked with Jim Lanier (another fabulous musher, I was totally geeking out by the end of the day), and Dallas Seavey finally figured out what it was we were waiting for (it wasn't hard Haille was wanting to go home and made a bit of a scene) so he interrupted Jeff and he hopped over to mug for the cameras. Then we were stuck trying to find someone to take the picture. We finally had no choice but to allow Dallas handle the repsponsibility. He lit up when I handed him mine and immediately tried to freak me out by pretending to drop it. Bubba would have been in a world of hurt. Told him that was a 3000 dollar camera. That made him even more of a pain. Why do I like this guy again? LOL Cuz his kid is cute, that's why! LOL

Thanks, I guess, Dallas! (Me, Jeff!!!, Lilian)
Overall it was a fantastic day and I'm glad I made the trip up and back in one day! (8 hours round trip! Long day, well worth it!)

To see all the pics from yesterday go here -

Cannot wait for March!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I've got the blahs...

I don't know if it's work - which is a job, not a passion... yet again - or the living situation drama, or the hermit lifestyle I've led these last six years or so... but I just have been in this set pattern of blahs. Aside from vacations to Disney... and the Iditarod... I really haven't had much to look forward to or get excited about. It's frustrating, but at the same time I'm just not enthusiastic about changing the situation either. It could be laziness, or maybe I just don't give a real care to change. I look around me and all of these people are so much better at what we do, have these amazing families - which yes I know have their own trials, tribulations and moments of discontentedness - and I can't help but feel like I'm still stuck where I was in 2003, the only difference is back then I had a whole world of possibilities... now, nothing. I'm in that rut, I've gone back to the one place I promised myself I wouldn't go. And I'm just. UGH!

I don't understand why I am this way. I don't understand why I can't take the bull by the horns. Why I can't seem to even make a sale in my job or with photography! I just feel very inept. I have Two Years before I'm old enough to attend a high school reunion but what will I have to show for it? I'll be the loser on the corner. And not even a good kind of loser.

So, yeah, I have the blahs. And I'm tired of people saying "look on the bright side" quoting a Bible verse or saying "it'll get better" and then tell me their lifestory. Because, honestly, I don't care. I don't want a comforting word. I don't want a "pick me up." I just want to vent, and when I vent I don't want someone to answer back. I just want to scream and hear the lonely echo. So let me do that.

and, yes, this was taken right outside my door. Gonna miss this sight.
And so this post isn't a total loss, let me add a photo.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's the end of an era, you might say.

So, after nine months, I'm moving out of the house on the River and moving in with my parents? Why? Namely because I don't do well with sharing property with others. Especially when I feel lied to by the property manager and not given (what I consider) the proper support. When the new neighbor moved in I was completely fine with losing space in the laundry room so she could have a closet - but I was not told she was a smoker and would be allowed to smoke in the house. Now my house smells of smoker smell. I hate to break it to ya, but that smell is one of the worst. When I brought this up a week or so later to the property manager he told me to basically suck it up. Nevermind it triggers issues for me. He suggested a smoke eater, but I had to buy it. Um, I don't think so.

Top it off, the owner is selling the property. All this week it looks like I will be dealing with folks walking through my stuff to view the property. So I'm just done. I'm getting griped at by my neighbor because she wants my dog to stop pooping and that I need to plant flowers on my side of the house. I'm just done. I want my space to be just that, mine. Not anyone elses. I don't want to deal with stupid stuff, and I'm wanting to just be left alone.

So, for the time being, we'll just move me into the house I grew up in until we can find something that works. Who knows how long that will be. I hate that I won't be on the river anymore, but honestly I haven't done anything down by the water, so it's not like it's that much different than living blocks away from it.

So, yeah, life is.... UGH... which is what it's basically been since December.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Musher found safe: "Cold, tired and hungry"

After almost two weeks of searching and worrying, Melanie Gould was found "cold, tired and hungry" but safe in Cantwell, many miles away from her home in Talkeetna. The Iditarod Musher was sent to the Mat-Su Regional Hospital to be treated. Troopers, friends and searchers were guarded in their reporting of just what happened. Troopers stated that Gould herself contacted them, and admitted that she had seen the searchers earlier in the week but "stayed away" from them. Friends running - the now deleted - group "Have you seen Melanie Gould?" reported that a searcher found the missing musher in Cantwell and contacted troopers.

The State Troopers are not releasing any details at this point other than to report the musher found and doing well. That there is, at least for now, a happy ending to the story seems to be what matters at this point, but questions still loom. What happened and why did she shy away from the searchers? What is the real story? And why did the facebook page suddenly disappear once people began to question the fact that Melanie has admitted to hiding? Why did she leave her dogs unattended if she herself had planned to leave?

And, of course, what happens now?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Search continues for missing Talkeetna musher

Melanie Gould during Iditarod 35 (2007).
Gould has not been heard from
since May 31, 2011.
Talkeetna musher Melanie Gould was last seen by friends on May 31st gassing up her pick up truck. When she didn't return to work on Tuesday, June 1, her friends and coworkers became concerned and reported the young woman missing.

Troopers have been searching for her from Tuesday until today when they called off the ground and air search. They reportedly will be continuing their investigation, but their efforts - for now - have been exhausted in the area that Melanie's truck was found. Search dogs hit in and around the truck, but no where else. This could mean she took a different vehicle out of the area - but with the weather the way it was up to the day of the find, it could also just be that the scent no longer exists.

Friends and family - including Gould's community of Talkeetna - are picking up the search. Their meeting this evening had a basic game plan for tomorrow. They are asking for anyone with the time and resources to please come out and search. They are looking for former military, SARS, and police officers to head up the search teams.

To see how you can help visit the facebook page HAVE YOU SEEN MELANIE GOULD. Join the team to bring her home!