The Eagle Rules

Trip Start Oct 16, 2007
1
27
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Trip End Dec 16, 2007


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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Moose sightings have been meager of late but I'm on the look out. In the meantime I would like to introduce you to Frank Loosli. I work daily with Frank and have the privilege of watching him teach the kids technological skills which include computers and robotics. I am frequently invited by the kids to come watch their latest attempts at programing their newly built robots. In addition to his teaching role he is a gifted photographer. We ran into each other at the VFW eagle feeding and since then he has kept me posted about additional photo shoots around the area. Although I missed the weekend in Homer, Frank's latest photos have brought the weekend home in living breathing color. I have asked him if I could share a few with you (and the world) and am including them in the blog. I am not exaggerating when I say that his photos are some of the finest wildlife photos I have ever had the opportunity to view. If you would like to see more of Frank's work go to http://www.photo.net/photos/floosli or would like to contact him to have one his photos for your own try this web address firisbrokenarts@yahoo.com

Update on Lance and his dogs. The final race the All Alaska Sweepstakes, a 408 mile historic roundtrip from Nome to Candle and back was run to completion last week end. It's a $100,000 winner-take-all race that reenacts a Gold Rush-era race around the once booming but now desolate Seward Peninsula. They race through terrain that circles through some of the wildest, snow covered, windswept land in North America.

There are, however, some different rules in the Sweepstakes. The Iditarod and Quest allow mushers to drop injured, sick or tired dogs, and require some lengthy rest stops along the trail. Those races also prohibit outside assistance in dog care or race strategy. In the Sweepstakes, for which the mushers can harness a maximum of 12 dogs, they alone choose when and where to rest their teams and for how long. Outside assistance from a pit crew is permitted but the most controversial and problematic rule is the prohibition on dog drops. Mushers must finish the race with the dogs with which they start. If a dog dies the musher is immediately out of the race. If a dog goes lame or gets sick, the musher will face the choice of hauling it or quitting. If a dog simply gets tired and slows down, the choice will be similar but different: slow the whole team or haul that dog. Unfortunately, there is no quicker way to slow a team in a sled dog race than to start adding the weight of canine passengers to the sled. So it stands to reason that the mushers are looking for Energizer Bunnies to put in the harness.

I was surprised when, as the winners crossed the finish, I didn't hear Mackey's name. I found out Sunday that early in the morning, a snow-machine had crashed into the back of Mackey's dog sled. He broke down in tears telling how his most prized dog. Zorro (the key animal in his Comeback Kennel), was critically injured as the canine was riding in the sled's basket from Safety to Nome - less than 22 miles from the end of the race. As the details have come out, Mackey has been the ultimate professional and has been unwilling to cast blame. However, the machine impaled the sled bag with its runners and had to be physically removed from the sled. It trapped 3 or 4 dogs underneath. Zorro was trapped in the sled bed. He described the incident by saying it was like a truck hitting a Pinto. He brushed off comments about the damage done to his custom sled by saying, "That's only material. I would give my life for my dogs. I can't make anyone know how important animals are to me."

Zorro, who is related to 40 of Lance's 80 dogs and who 9 of the other dogs on his team were direct decendents, was pretty lifeless at the finish line. He awoke and was unable to walk. The fear was that he had suffered serious spinal damage. Zorro was flown to Anchorage and then to Seattle on Monday for an MRI. In today's news veterinarians are concluding that although there was some nerve damage, the dog should heal. Mackey, forever the gentleman, has refused to name the snowmobiler who ran into his sled. He did say that he didn't think Zorro was going to want to race to Nome again. What a guy. The cause of the collision is still under debate with both sides - Mushers and Mobilers - trying to not point fingers.

For those of you who continue to have questions about what I do while I am away from home please make it a point to go see Stop-Loss. I think this movie provides some insight about a few of the issues soldiers and their families are facing.

Spring is coming. Dirty snow, dust, and warmer temps. Moose sightings have slowed. We did see a highway fatality on the way home from work that made us all feel a little weepy and cause us to meet up for a beer at the end of the day. I also read that Buzzwinkle, a favorite of the locals, had to be put down when he was found in bad shape lying in a downtown lot. He had badly worn teeth and a infected wound on his rump that rendered him severely emaciated and unable to get up. The wildlife biologist who put him down said, "He had a good life, other than getting tangled in Christmas light from time to time." Everyone has their favorite story about Buzzwinkle, the most embarrassing nickname ever given to a moose after he ate a pile of fermented crab apples in the courtyard of Bernie's Bungalow Lounge. They still talk about him getting tangled in the Christmas lights he'd found in the Town Square Park and finding him in a disoriented pose snorting steam and staring off into the distance. The locals are sad to see him go. They say he was a really laid-back moose and they like to have the calm ones around. Buzzwinkle was 13 - old for a moose. He can be seen walking the streets in the Discovery Channels "MythBusters" an episode questioning whether it is better for a driver to brake or accelerate if a moose collision is unavoidable. He is also featured in the current issue of Alaska Magazine. You'll recognize him by the Christmas lights in his antlers.

FYI: 14 hours of daylight is coming to Anchorage by the first of the week. Seems very strange to have blue sky at 9 PM and it all happened so quickly. To my friends at home on the lake who told me when we spoke today that it's in the 60's, feel free to put the dock and the Martin house up any time:)
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