Monday, October 22, 2012

Saturday with flying work, and freeky pumpkins!


Wow what a winter week! More snow and last night temperature dropped till
-21 °C (-5 °F)!
We love Alaska!!

Some work at home!

On Saturday we went to work, Piia worked hard while I was … flying :D. For one of my project, I need infrared data from an area in South of Fairbanks, I asked the pilot of one of those mission if she could bring me once, I love flying especially in Alaska, and she accepted. The weather wasn’t so great as you can see on the pictures and the flight was delayed many times.

At noon we finally took off and headed south between Fairbanks and Healy in a large and wild area. We tried to work but the clouds were too low, so the pilot gave me a touristic tour of our study area, we were flying really low, trying to spot some moose. We were able to catch some sun ray, it was really beautiful. I was sitting at the copilot place., which is pretty cool, even though I had to take care to not touch any pedals or driving wheel :D.

After about one hour of flight we went back to Fairbanks, it’s weird but onn that Saturday, I didn’t mind working  :D

Then on Saturday night we had pre-Halloween party with Kerry, Scott and kids. The night included watching classic Halloween story of Charlie Brown and the gang, having a garden soup and pumpkin custard and, of course, carving a pumpkin, again from our garden. Since we don't have these traditions for Halloween in Europe, it was a nice new experience.

All the carving fun!

Clyde and Lenny were enjoying as well!

Scott roasted pumpkin seeds for snacks, better than popcorn!

Hopefully the carved pumpkin won't scare us too much while giving light on our window sill...

On Sunday we got ready for our special guests for this week. It's time for the Kortsalo family to explore Alaska!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Winter starts with sled dog and food events

It seems that winter is here, we've got a few centimeters of snow, and now it looks like winter wonderland here!

So it's time to begin our winter activities.

On Friday we decided that we were ready to be Yukon Quest rookies! Just the time for a workshop. So we took a day off and joined the Yukon Quest rookie workshop.

First there was a small introduction about the Yukon Quest race, which is a long distance sled dog race and takes place between Fairbanks (Alaska) and Whitehorse (Yukon– Canada). The distance is about 1000 miles and goes through really remote areas. This race starts in February which is one of the coldest month here in Alaska, so it’s useless to say how tough it is! Which is why this race usually is called the toughest race in the world.

So of course we are not going to do this race (at least not next year!) but we had the opportunity to go to the workshop where many famous and experienced mushers shared their advice and experiences.

First we listened to Mike Ellis talking about the trail and dog care. It was pretty entertaining since he had many stories about things that can go wrong when you are out there in the wilderness. And also many pieces of advice to do things right and finish the race, as he has done many years. Mike is well known (and you know him if you follow this blog (Visit to team tsuga siberians kennel)) for his good dog care and he earned the Yukon Quest vet award some years ago. It was very interesting to listen to him!

Then a vet came to talk about medicine on the trail and during the race. She also presented the vet team, as you can imagine the dog’s health is a priority on this race. The vets are there to check the dogs, give advice to the mushers or decide whether or not a dog should continue the race.

After that a multiple Yukon Quest finisher Gerry Willomitzer told us about how to pack your drop bags which are really important in the race. They are the bags containing enough food for the dogs as well as booties, equipment, human food etc. and you send them to the checkpoints before the race. It was pretty interesting to see how important are those bags and how they are the base of the racing strategy. Preparing and planning is very critical part of the race, so you wont' be in trouble.

Then Alliy Zirkle and Allen Moore from SP kennel came to talk about the role of the handlers during the race. These famous mushers had many funny stories and they told us about how their well organized kennel handle the race.

Next Hugh Neff, the last year champion, came to share his knowledge about training. That was again really interesting, Hugh have worked with many great mushers before being a great musher himself so he is able to share some training strategies and critical points.

At the end Jodi Bailey came to answer all the questions that a rookie can have before the race. The most important thing was to point out the worries which are plenty before this kind of race. Whether you worry about the training, scratching, handling dogs in drastic conditions or the trail, it's nice to hear from the veterans "You can do it!"
This workshop was the beginning of the Alaska Dog Musher Association symposium. On Friday night we were at the 30th Birthday party of the Yukon Quest race where a lot of really famous names of the mushing world were present. We helped at the Two Rivers Dog Musher Association booth and got to know some of our neighbors. We had nice chats with Melinda, also from Two Rivers, and enjoyed food and cake.

Zirkle and Sue Ellis

Miki and Julie Collins' niece showing examples of clothes that these twin sisters make out of animal furs that they trap in Alaskan bush, while living in Alaskan wilderness.

Hard work at the symposium!

The Two Rivers Association booth

While driving home we saw the most amazing northern lights there can be, next time better take camera...

On Saturday we worked at home, the theme is still "fire wood'!

On Sunday we went back to help at the symposium. We talked with Sue and Mike Ellis for a while about their dogs and training, and the amazing experience that they are going to live: running the Iditarod, the other really famous long distance race in Alaska, which is also called toughest race in the world by the way :D.

Afternoon we participated a Potato, Pie & Turkey Fry -party that our co-worker Sarah hosted with his husband. The purpose was to bring a favourite pie and/or potato dish and share it with people. At the end there was a vote to find out the best pie and potato treat. We can swear that it was an amazing afternoon, we got to eat so good food. Our "tarte au flan" wasn't too successful, better luck next time!
Amazing selection of pies...

and potato dishes!

Todd (our co-worker) with his new born :) 

What a nice event!

And then voting...

Well I liked them all...

Well that was a pretty nice long weekend, we are looking forward to the next one!