February news always comes late to allow the Iditarod to finish and make the news. And this year, the news is not good. Kuskokwim 300 favorites Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl were contenders in the race until the last couple days but were not able to pull it off, and the eventual winner won for the fifth time which generated little excitement for the Kuskokwim 300 crowd. The highlight of the final weekend of the Iditarod race was marking trail for a 100 mile race in snowy Bethel, which allowed for some nostalgic snow machine rides on local trails used for training and racing for many years. Bethel has had the most snow it has experienced in many years, and also the most moose ever. Here is the scene in front of ALO as posted by Dolly.
This photo of Richie Diehl on the Iditarod also brought back some memories.
It shows Richie arriving in a checkpoint after a long run at temperatures at -50 and colder. And here is a classic Iditarod photo taken by Brent Sass while driving his dogs at -55.
Having experienced two races that featured temps in that range it now seems beyond belief that a dog team and driver can travel and function at those temps. Those two races were the Coldfoot Classic in 1986 and the Kuskokwim 300 in 1989 when the temperature actually dropped into the -60 range. It seems a safe bet that outdoor adventures in temperatures like that are a thing of the past, as elder wisdom starts to slowly kick in.
A trail memory of a different sort happened in the 1987 John Beargrease Race in Minnesota, a story recounted in the ALO news in 2016 but worth repeating. In that race the Dog Farm had a good handling crew assembled to try to fend off Joe Garnie who was the main competition. Early in the race he broke his sled crossing a bridge, and stopped at an early checkpoint to take some mandatory layover time while he fixed it, putting him at the back of the pack. That early rest made his team lively as it left the checkpoint to catch up with the main group taking their rest at the next checkpoint. A young snow machine driver pulled into that checkpoint a while later and breathlessly announced "There's some Indian driving 18 dogs back there, going about 20 miles an hour, and he's in last place" Garnie, part Inupiat Eskimo and part Italian, got quite a chuckle out of that when he arrived.
The Dog Farm handler crew included several people who followed the race as spectators. One was asked to purchase a couple large jugs of juice which was the favored drink at checkpoints in those days. He returned with a couple gallons which were stored for later use. About halfway through the race, at night, the first jug was opened and partially consumed in a rush upon leaving the checkpoint. A few hours later, there was some urgency to reach the next checkpoint, where a trip to the woods was needed before anything else was done. More juice was consumed and after a few hours rest, the woods again beckoned urgently. It was now time to investigate the problem. Turns out the handler had purchased prune juice, thinking it would be helpful for the rigors of the trail. Of course, a different juice was secured and the problem was solved in time to beat Garnie by about 20 minutes.
On that subject, there is a story from the 1983 Kuskokwim 300 worth recalling. Ken Hamm was racing the 300 when nature called along the trail. He was wearing a Refrigiwear snow suit at the time, and in order to answer the call he dropped his suit behind him near the dog team. Completing his task, he pulled up his suit and continued down the trail. Soon he noticed an unpleasant odor around his face and he was not able to determine the source. He thought perhaps he had stepped in some dog poop but could find no evidence to support that. Eventually he decided the smell was coming from inside his winter gear so he stopped to investigate further. He soon learned that while he was stopped along the trail, one of his dogs had pooped in the top of his snowsuit which was laying on the trail behind him. Or as he said when telling the story at the banquet, “He shit in my Refrigiwear.” Ron Kaiser wrote a song about that incident and here are the lyrics. It was performed at the K300 Benefit Concert to rave reviews.
Ken Hamm hooked up his dogs back in 1983. Somewhere along the race trail he needed some relief. He finished up and took off, but there’s a bad stink in the air. That bad old wheel dog shit in Ken Hamm's Refrigiwear. Yippee Yi A, Yippe Yi O. That nasty wheel dog. Crapped in Ken Hamm's Refrigiwear. Well Ken he didn’t know where that awful stink was at. He mushed along for quite a while steam rolling out his back, when suddenly he realized what had just happened back there, that bad ol wheel dog shit in Ken Hamm's refrigiwear. Yippee Yi A, Yippee Yi O. That nasty wheel dog crapped in Ken Hamm's refrigiwear. He made it on around and he was talkin to the press. He told them of the wheel dog that made that awful mess. He said I lost some time back there rollin in the snow. I mighta come in #1 I guess we’ll never know. Yippee Yi A, Yippee Yi O. I mighta come in #1 I guess we’ll never know
The Real Diehl & Old Goat Balls
Finally in dog race news, a tap room in Eagle River, Alaska has named a beer after Richie Diehl. Called the “Real Diehl Beer” it is reportedly selling well. ["Brewery Names A Beer After Aniak Musher Richie Diehl" - KYUK]
Earlier the same company had a beer called “Old Goat Balls” after Richie’s soon to be father-in-law Grant Fairbanks. The story behind that beer is spectacular, but can’t be properly told in this format without clearance from Debbie Fairbanks, and such clearance is unlikely. Suffice to say the story involves a photo of Grant taken from behind, which was reproduced on the label. It was a limited edition brew.
This being a law office website, it seems some legal news should be reported. ALO recently settled a wrongful death case against the State of Alaska for a death that happened at a state jail. And this new case was just filed in Kodiak - "Family files complaint against school district in sexual abuse case" - Kodiak Mirror.
The Opposite of Chance
Longtime friend Peggy Hermes is out with another book previewed here - "The Opposite of Chance". She promises that most of the book is PG-13, but admitted the last three chapters slip into the R-rating category. She suggested that the popcorn would be gone by then anyway. An earlier book had some steamy sections, and she forbid her 11-year-old grandson from reading it. She later learned that he read it under the covers in his bed with a flashlight.
Mandatory Moose, Mystery Critter & Radar
This month’s mandatory moose might cause a problem for the Geico adjuster.
“Tell me again how the roof of your car got dented with moose tracks?” Here is a common moose sighting in Anchorage this time of year, posted by Margaret Stock on her way home from work.
This critter showed up on the office security camera and has puzzled more than a few folks. What is your guess? Be sure to stop video and enlarge.
Mark Schwantes always spends time in Wood Tikchik State Park this time of year. That’s the huge park where the Angstman cabin is located. Here is a video from one of his rides. That is the largest herd of moose to show up on any photo at ALO yet, about 30 animals.
The New York Times published this article "2 Days, 10 Dogs, 150 Miles in the Wilderness: This Is the Iditarod for Teens" about the Junior Iditarod, and focused on a teenager, Anna Coke, who helps Jessica Klejka, a longtime friend of ALO.
The yellow dog featured in the article is the last lead dog trained at the Dog Farm named Radar, who was given to Jessica when the Dog Farm wrapped up its operation three years ago. Radar is now Jessica’s main leader and a good one. Radar is leading in this video from Jessica’s Iditarod start with a not-so-wise elder on her second sled a couple of years ago. Professional photographer Jeff Schultz is stationed at the first sharp turn on the trail in downtown Anchorage, and he explains why he sits there.
LaMont Albertson is back posting cartoons. This one is for the women.
Jensine Turner is a high school classmate and she posted this one.
Finally some thoughts about the minimum wage increase that was left out of the recently passed stimulus bill. This chart tells the story pretty well. Further proof, Jeff Bezos’ net worth grew by $2,378 every second of 2020. It takes a minimum wage worker 328 hours to make that much. That part of the American economy is broken and needs to be fixed.