Merge In Turn

10 March 2011                 8.00AM      Temperature  -8 F      Clear skies

10 March 2011                 2.00PM       Temperature 22 F      Perfect blue sky and sunny

No, it’s not a mistake, there are meant to be two time and temperature readings up there. It’s been the weather pattern for the last 2 or 3 weeks here and it is quite a dramatic and wonderful difference. Some mornings have been as cold as -20F but then the sun has risen and the day time temperatures have climbed up into the +20s. Now, as March is well established, there is real warmth to the sun’s rays, rather just the watery light it gives off during the depths of winter. And make no mistake, even though the gauge says 22F, the heat in the sun means it feels a whole lot warmer and results in the need for the removal of at least a couple of  layers of  clothes.

The dogs are thoroughly enjoying that warmth and are all lying, fully stretched out, soaking up as much Vitamin D as they can get.

Last weekend saw Willow at its busiest. Which must mean it is Iditarod time again. Frequently, we are astounded by just how quickly the days and weeks are passing by and it certainly seems like it can’t possibly have been 12 months since I last complained about the traffic and having to pay to park. Now, if we feel the time has flown by, I can only begin to imagine how those teams that have entered have felt in trying to prepare and train for this epic race.

Saturday is the Ceremonial Circus, I mean Start, down in Anchorage and as I’m allergic to crowds, I have managed to find reasons not to go down for that. This year’s excuse was twofold, 1.  we were down there the day before at the Canine Eye Specialist with one of our dogs and 2. we had visitors coming.

Saturday afternoon, Carmen of Northern Heritage Kennel, a fellow Seppala owner was in Willow to visit us, following her week long attendance at a conference in Anchorage. It was great to meet her and have the chance to chat about dogs generally and our beloved Seppalas in particular.

Iditarod Start Line banner
Iditarod 39 Start Line

So, the next day, we duly headed down to the Community Centre for the festivities and to see the teams off. A beautiful sunny day, much warmer than last year, and one that made me think that our heavy coated dogs would find running in the afternoon sunshine a little on the  toasty side. This year, we had no Siberian teams to cheer on, so we randomly picked team numbers to be fans of. Strangely enough, my random pick happened to be Hugh Neff, whom we had met the previous evening in the Willow Trading Post at Hobo Jim’s gig, through our friend and Yukon Quest veteran Mike Ellis.  So, maybe not quite as random as originally intended………

Hugh Neff's dog team running at the start of the Iditarod
Hugh Neff's team blasting out the start chute, heading across Willow Lake.

There seemed to be more people spectating this year and I guess the warm sunshine meant that more stayed to see all the teams leave, compared to the stampede leaving last year after a few of the big names had started. Of course, this did mean more people leaving at the same time, and Willow’s big traffic jam. I’ve never been a fan of commuting, or sitting stationary in a car at the best of times. However, taking over an hour and a half to travel 2 miles had me in complete Victor Meldrew mode. I feel a stiffly worded email of complaint to the ITC about their traffic management policy coming on.

However, sitting in that enormous tailback did mean we got to see a couple of these big fellas close up.

A moose munching on some branches
Time for a snack
Big moose hiding in the trees
If I put my head behind this bush, you can't see me.
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