The Armchair Musher wishes you merry Christmas and all the best for 2012Hello from the Armchair Musher,
It is he middle of December, many of my mushing friends are at the Sheep Mountain 150, a first class event put on by Anjanette and Zack Steer from Sheep Mountain Lodge. I am still waking up at 5.30 in the morning, this time more likely because I am still having a bit of jetlag from my return trip from Germany. So here I am, one of the many arm chair mushers, looking at runtimes, team sizes , reading reports of slow trails, winds starting to blow. Part in me says, it would be nice to be there, another part is happy that all I have to do is throw another log in the fire.
Instead of training dogs this fall, I have been mostly talking about dogs. While in Germany, besides visiting family and friends I did quite a few mushing talks. Some were straight forward about the Yukon Quest and Iditarod, while others were more about the mental and physical part of racing and how they correlate into management scenarios in business, in short: “ Motivational Training “. My brother works in this field and it has been rewarding to be working with him.
But most importantly, besides work, I finally got some sailing in. Yep I did it….. bought a boat and spend the month of October exploring the Puget Sound around Seattle. I had a blast, it was long past peak season and I was glad about that fact. Looking at the number and size of all those marinas down there, it must be quite busy on the water during main season. In October, I mostly only saw a handful of boats per day. The boat I bought had not been used in a while, so I got the odd little surprise, but wasted no time to see new waters. 2 days into the trip the old owner called me asking me if I had left the harbor yet? Left the harbor yet? Heck I was some 80 miles away, enjoying myself to the fullest. The first night saw me smack dab in the middle of Seattle in Bell Harbor Maria. Me not being a city boy, that was not my idea of spending quality time on a boat. The second night saw my anchor out in a little bay on the backside of Vachon Island, much better. Letting down the Anchor I realized it had never been used, as it was not even tied to the boat. Wondering why the boat had no autopilot I clearly decided that peeing of a dogsled was much easier than peeing of a boat with no autopilot. Dang had I missed going sailing. Another highlight was that some old and new friends live in Seattle and we had fun times visiting. Bernd I had not seen in over 10 years and we used to work at Mercedes together some 20 years ago back in Germany. Looking at pictures I am not the only one who got a lot more grey hair. The end of October was a bit late to bring the boat up the inside passage to Juneau, so I put it on the Alaska Marine Highway. Matter of fact, that was another trip I had wanted to do pretty much ever since I moved up north here 15 years ago: The inside passage. And I did not get disappointed. What a beautiful trip that is. After storing the boat in Juneau, I quickly headed to the Yukon. Well almost quickly, only after getting another quick sail in with a friend who just bought a boat in Juneau… we needed to celebrate that before the season finally really came to an end. Time to leave Southeast Alaska behind. Of course it was snowing on the trip to the Yukon and there was snow on the ground at the kennel. I pulled home yet another load of glacier stuff in a trailer. After Gizzy, Diesel and Gas my last 3 remaining dogs found their way down south for the season, there was not much holding me back from more traveling. I packed my bags and headed, after a stop in Germany, to the Caribbean with my Dad, Bonnie and Jim. Its been 20 some years since I last sailed down there. Some things were the same, others had changed quite a bit. I had totally forgotten about the fact that most of the island are their own states and required clearing customs for boat and crew each time. Urghhh. The trip started a bit rough with the boat engine overheating on the first day (after a beautiful sail). A water jacket in the engine block had a leak, nothing Bryan a nice local mechanic and some JB weld could not fix. We called it the bubblegum fix. It kind of got interesting when we wanted to pick up the mechanic with the dinghy and the dang outboard would also not run. Different charter company next time…. But after that we had a wonderful trip, mainly doing nothing, besides the odd swim and snorkel or eating lobster on the beach. I wondered many times how come I had not done a trip like this much earlier. Well training dogs for racing did not leave me time for that.
After returning to Germany I did a whirlwind tour of a few more talks. I for sure can see myself doing more of those in the future. They are a good way to make a bit of extra money, meet new people while spreading the word about this wonderful sport of mushing. But also to show the people the beauty of the Yukon and Alaska. One perk of traveling to different places in Germany: I really enjoy the good food (and beer) over there. You only need to travel 50 or 80 miles to be able to experience regional specialties, which you can find nowhere else. Nothing beats my moms cooking of course.
Until this point, my fall and early winter went as planned. Now as soon as I got back to the Yukon, the planned part kind of derailed, with me signing up for the Copper Basin 300 two days ago. How the heck did that happen??? That prompted a flood of inquisitive emails. The answer: I am running Gerry Willomitzer´s 2nd team. An offer hard to refuse, as I got to value his nice dogteam this summer on the glacier. And yes, I agree, I had a hard time to completely stay away from the dogs. Talking about which, right now Nemo is snoozing behind me on the couch. He is so happy to be inside, He is trying to break Skunk´s all time record for being on the couch without going outside.
So while Gerry is at the Sheep Mountain, he is in 5th place after the 2nd leg, I am quickly making firm plans for the rest of this winter, before he gets any more of these me standing on the runners ideas. I will do a few more mushing talks in Germany in March. This time more in the eastern and southern part. Next a trip to Austria and hopefully a trip to Spain to speak there at an event. And of course, to do little more sailing.
I am already itching to go back to Juneau for the helicopter summer tours with Coastal Helicopters. www.coastalhelicopters.com O.k. …, yes I admit….. I am itching to put the boat in the water, too. Its been a fun year. I travelled down old trails and in new waters. Never much of a dull moment. Merry Christmas and that all your wishes for 2012 become true