WinterFest - Jim Lobdell Memorial Races & Weightpull
Got up extra early to leave for this almost 6 hour drive because of snow in our area. I wasn't worried, though, because the news had been full of reports of how ready PennDOT was to have the roads clean for our first winter storm. Also, we were only supposed to get a total of 4 to 6 inches and the snow just started at 1am. I left at 3:30 am.
Well, they may have been ready, but they didn't get up as early as I did! No plowed roads to get to the turnpike, and it was slick under the 2 inches of snow. I was ready to get the the turnpike and onto safe roads. Wait, the turnpike wasn't plowed, either. Well, that's not right. I did see plow trains on the eastern side twice on my way west towards Harrisburg, but nothing on the western side. I averaged 40 miles an hour and the snow was still coming. Had a wonderful toll taker at Harrisburg who said, "are those malamutes?". Nice to hear that, versus the typical "huskies" question. Asked what he knew about conditions ahead, and all he knew was to tell me to take it slow.
The highway into Harrisburg, route 83 was a mess. No plows there either, and it was slick. Everyone was taking it slowly and sticking in just one lane. Averaged 35 miles an hour there to get to route 322. 322 wasn't as slick as 83, but it still hadn't seen a plow either. Averaged 40 miles an hour there. Got to route 15 and still no plows, and the snow was still coming down. I did see 3 plow trains on route 15, but they were all headed south. Nothing for us poor schmucks headed north. Normally 2 lanes in each direction, we mostly all stayed in the right lane. One guy in a 2 door sedan tried to pass me, evidently not happy with my speed and almost spun out. Evidently gave him a good scare, he dropped way back. A couple of tractor trailers did pass me, but that was the extent of it.
For as bad as conditions were, I didn't see that many accidents. The guys I saw in the ditch were all pickups with plows attached. Yup, those guys got cocky.
Stopped at the first place I found on 15 that was open for a potty break for all of us. OMG, the boys were in their glory digging in the snow and just running around "woo hooing" about their favorite conditions.
Finally got to route 80. This is an interstate and a truck route and I was praying the plows had been there. Well, they had, but for only 1 lane. I was happy with that and was able to average 50. The further west I got, the less snow fell and both lanes were plowed. I was able to nudge the average up to 60. 99 miles to travel on route 80. By the time I got to the exit, it was a nice day. All the two lane roads to the pull were in perfect shape.
At the park, The wouldn't let me into the 1st entrance to get to the pull. I went in the 2nd entrance and came around the backside, or as Kari said, "Sheryl flew in out of the bat cave".
The boys did ok, and I wasn't expecting a lot after that long drive, getting harnessed up and into the chute right away. Both pulled 450lbs. (Cinnabar weighed in at 110 and Sebastian at 138).
Conditions weren't as nice as last year, but that's because they didn't have as much snow. In fact we were lucky to even have the pull. The sled dog races were cancelled two days earlier because they didn't have enough snow. In the intervening time they got enough snow to have some fun races. The pulling pad was not as deep as it had been the year before.
We did have nice crowds on Saturday there to see the fun races and the Polar Plunge, and I had several people crowding around me to see the malamutes. They even had bleachers setup for us this year.
Steve Jackson was our chief judge and our organizer, John was the timer. I hadn't met John before. He has malamutes and has pulled in years past. Great guy.
I was supposed to room with Kari and Diane. Diane wasn't there because of a family emergency. Kari went to get my room key from her car. She had the doors open on both sides of her car to give the crated dogs lots of air. She shut the door on one side and we heard a crash. Just that nudge sent Keisha's crate flying out the other side. The crate broke and she corraled Keisha very quickly. The crate didn't just break it shattered pieces off. Kari lamented that they don't make VariKennels any more, just these cheap plastic crates. I didn't know they didn't make them any more. Other than collapsibles, they're the only crates I've ever had.
We headed to the Super 8 to relax for a couple of hours before the mushers dinner. Kari was tending to her dogs outside and I went into the room with the boys. I fed Sebastian in the bathroom and Cinnabar at the other end of the room. Kari came in for that and was laughing at Cinnabar because he eats laying down. He always has. When he was done, I cracked the bathroom door open to let Sebastian out, and quickly shut it behind him. While we were talking I thought Sebastian had gas. Then I went to the bathroom, nope, no gas. He pooped. First time he's ever done that in a hotel. I cleaned it up and flushed it. A little while later I went into the bathroom and realised it didn't flush, tried again. Nope. Called the front desk and they wanted to give us another room because no maintenance personnel on duty. Kari said, "can't they give us a plunger?". Oh, ok, we can do that. I went to get it and the desk clerk met me at the elevator as the doors opened, held it up and said, "208?" (our room number). I just laughed. It was an easy fix, but good grief, there's always a Sebastian story, isn't there? I took the plunger back down to the desk and she said, why don't you keep it we've got plenty. OMG.
Kari got to see Sebastian's snoopervisor personality up close. He was a good boy, but curious as a cat. His first time sharing a room with another person. I put all stuff up out of his reach. In the bathroom the soap, shampoo and stuff. In the room, the basket with coffee I put up, and Kari's stuff as well. I did miss one thing, on the nightstand there was a tea bag and bag of sugar and those bit the dust quickly. Cinnabar was his usual sweet self, and didn't cause a bit of trouble..
Then on to the mushers dinner. I bundled the boys into the car (I never leave them alone in a hotel room). This dinner is in the basement banquet room of a local club. Home cooked chicken soup & beef stew, along with other dishes and sandwiches. There's also some local musicians with violins, & cellos playing country style songs along with some old standards. Usually there's a presentation thanking the different people that make WinterFest a success, and there was again. This year, in addition to that there was a local radio personality, Grizzley something, that handed out Iceberg award trophies. At the beginning of his routine I didn't know he was a radio guy, but it was obvious this wasn't his first time doing this. He was fearless and he was bawdy and had us all laughing so hard we were crying.
Then back to the hotel. Kari headed to the local Walmart to see if she could pick up a replacement crate. When she got back she was crateless, all they had was cheaper plastic for $40. I asked her what size the kennel was and she said it was a 200 size. I told her I had two of them at home. One was Cinnabar's puppy crate and the other was one I picked up at a yard sale for one of my cats (who had been a large cat). I still have Sebastian's puppy crate, but I use the bottom half of it for their toy box. She decided to follow me home after the pull to pick it up. I asked her if she had duct tape and she said yes. Maybe she could use that in the mean time for the trip home for Keisha's crate.
Sebastian was pretty good about staying on the bed with me and not stalking Kari's every move. Faithful Cinnabar was of course asleep at the side of the bed. He's such a good boy.
I got up before Kari, took my shower and took the boys out to potty. The boys were quiet on the way out and on the way back in. Sebastian couldn't help himself, though and ran right over to give the sleeping Kari a good morning sniff and kiss. She laughed. I'm glad that he amuses her.
Back to the pull site. Saw some Siberian sled teams there for the fun races. Very few spectators, though.
Jennifer was there with Ava both days (as she was last year). This year she's also got Romeo, a six month old rambunctious sweet puppy, who gave novice a try. Also there both days, were her friends Susan and Rich from Indiana with Ava's sister. So, the Sammy's were represented nicely.
Old man, Starbuck, looked really good this day. This is his last year pulling, because he's 12. I'm going to miss seeing him pull, but his son's are doing a great job carrying on the legacy.
The chute was still not generous, but grudingly gave us a little more than the day before. Both of my boys pulled 500 lbs. Sebastian pulled the 550 easily, but left it short of the finish. I told him to sit and he sat. I told him to pull and he made all the motions of pulling, but he didn't. Cinnabar just did a lot of talking on his 550 pull, but never really got down and dug in enough to break the sled on his own. They kicked it when he tried and I made a very big deal out of it for him. Kari's Booth (Starbuck son), however, had no such problems and pulled the 550 to get MWP.
Thank you Jennifer for taking photos of my boys as well as the 80lb class, Lucky and Booth, who pulled with them!
We had awards, tore down the chute and had everything ready for the organizers to take away to storage. Some goodbye hugs and on the road after Kari duct taped Keisha's crate.
The trip back was uneventful, but long. Saw horses & buggies on route 15, just like we did last year. What was different this time, was that the buggies had flashers on them. Evidently PA passed a law mandating that because there'd been too many accidents with cars. I'm glad about that. Still, there's something incongrous about being on a 4 lane highway with horses & buggies.
Pulling onto the road that leads to my development it looked like the plows had hardly been there. My development roads were in better shape than that one. Sheesh! Kari got Cinnabar's puppy crate which still had all the airline stuff taped to it. LOL! But, at least she's got a good crate for Keisha for next weekend's Lake Placid pull.
The boys were very happy to bounce around in the snow in their own back yard, have dinner and crash. I went looking for my camera while they were in the back yard. I had it in the leather bag I use to carry their stuff. I had that all zipped up and under their harnesses and under my overnight bag and my coat on the passenger side floor. My camera wasn't in there. But, the bag was also unzipped. My first clue that Sebastian had been there. On both our rest stops when we came out, Kari had remarked how my boys make her laugh because they just sit there like people and are so good. Yeah, well, on one of those pit stops somebody nosed into that leather bag, unzipped it and left all the stuff on top of it somehow undisturbed. I looked in the back seat, and not only was my camera on the floor back there, but so was the baggy that formerly held some dog food. Always a Sebastian story :)
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