Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Tustumena 200

I haven't done any blogging since, well, since my last post.  Which was a sad one. But it's time to put some smiles back on faces again, and I don't know of a better way to do that than with lots of dogs showing off some serious joie de vivre.

The Tustumena 200 sled dog race, as long-time readers might remember, is a qualifier for the Iditarod. The two-hundred-mile round-trip race begins and ends in Kasilof. This year's race took place on January 29 - 30, 2011, and we were there to see it start!

I know there are some people who don't believe a sled dog enjoys his or her work. Surely a musher is a cruel person who forces the poor creatures to labor for miles pulling heavy weights, right? Um, no. Not at all. And if you have any doubt, check out this video of a team being held back:

Or this video of the same team being walked to position at the starting line. Notice the handlers with the dogs, and the snow machine behind the sled, weighing the dogs down so that they don't start running early:

Click on this pic to enlarge it. You've got to see the expression on this dog's face.

And, if you're still unsure whether or not a dog with pulling in its DNA really enjoys the job, come over to our house. We'll harness Moya up, hand you the lead, and wave goodbye to your rapidly disappearing form as she tows you out of sight in mere seconds.

Y'know, looking through the photos and comparing what I see here to the official start order list, I notice that nine of the fourteen mushers were men. But what has my dear husband decided to photograph?

Kristy Berington:

Her twin sister, Anna Berington:

Zoya DeNure:

And DeeDee Jonrowe, this year's winner:

And [singing "One of these things is not like the others..."] a lone photo of Gary Van Loo.

I admit, I never thought seeing the dog races start off would be much fun. "Yeah. Dogs. Running. Wooo." But I really enjoy it. And I don't think I would as much if I didn't have Moya at home. Seeing hundreds of Moya-alikes all in one place makes me feel fortunate that I only have one.

Having seen the racers off, we took our traditional arms-length self portrait:

But before we leave the race, here's something else for me to show you... A guy in a truly epic fox trapper hat, standing about 15 feet away from the race chute, with a large cardboard box. Of kittens.

The box says "FREE Kittens  You Need to have good intentions or you can't have Them!"

As far as we know, he left with as many as he brought. He wasn't exactly playing to the correct market. But it was worth a try.

After leaving the race, Jim and I stopped at Rocky's Cafe for lunch. I love that the sign is modeled after the Roslyn Cafe sign from the tv show Northern Exposure.

Once we were full of lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon looking at the Ice Around Town ice sculptures, but I'll save those pictures for the next post!


  1. BOING!!!!! (laughing) Great photos, attractive couple (You and Deanna JIM! Not braids)
    Thanks for sharing

    What color were the kittens??

  2. I love reading your posts. It's like reading a good it happens!

    Makes me want to live in Alaska or maybe visit. I don't know if I could stand all the snow.

    We had 2 feet of snow at our house on the lake in Oklahoma this year. We were house bound for 2 weeks!!! About the last week, I was ready for Florida.

    Love you Deanna.

  3. Love you, too! I understand being ready for Florida. Trips to Hawaii are extremely popular with people here! We can expect Breakup in about a month, and after that the snow will start to melt away and should be largely gone by the end of April or beginning of May.