Friday, September 9, 2011

Beasts to Yeasts

       What a wild ride this summer has been.  Currently, the mushers at camp have just topped over 300 tours each as our season winds down.  Our dogs are yearning for colder temperatures and also asking for a break in the weather.  South East AK is known for rain, especially as we push into our Fall months.  The waterfalls around camp dominate the airwaves, accompanied by the low howls of those wiser than their bi-ped counterparts.  It is as if they are so connected with the Earth that moments in time seem to stop and go like Manhattan rush hour.  It is truly a lasting feeling that I will always embrace; the ability to live in the moment for better or for worse, knowing that eventually the tides will rise and lower and the sun will rise and set.  It is this change that us seasonal workers, especially those with sled dogs, become accustomed to.  As we embark on our new endeavours, the time we spend shifts slowly back and forth controlled by a force much greater than us, but at times is merciful when we want that moment to last just a bit longer.
       The Alaskan Bar has been great to me and my guitar.  Erin has taken hundreds of photos and video so hopefully I can post them soon.  It's tough juggling the arts sometimes, I try and do as much as I can, I mean it's the Alaskan way.  The work ethic of people here is incredible.  For me, my music, my sled dogs, my photography, and writing are constantly looming over me like newborn puppies saying "pick me next, pick me next!"  Slowly but surely I tend to each one, trying to make sure no particular one feels "left out."  The importance of now brings the dogs to the top of the list.  I just said goodbye to Mouse and the "brewery" litter this morning, and Babar last week.  8 really good creatures that I may never see again, but will forever have in my mind as great dogs that I given the best care for.  They were a part of the family, and now I begin to realize the power of ownership of huskies.  You become so attached to them, and for me I have to say goodbye at the end of every season.  I chalk it up as bittersweet;  ownership and finance, or freedom and sharing the time with them while they are in your life.  This is why I have Tut and Ketza, they take with me a little piece of every adventure we're on, and pack it up and move on.
       It's tough not to blend all of these passions together.  Music, dogs, and traveling are captured in my writing, and they all influence each others positions, as I think they should.  Too many people focus on the future, which can be great as you try and reach large goals, but I have found that the greatest treasures lay under my nose, or out in front of me, all of the time. 
       So this month brought great wealth to my heart and mind, as I was awarded the highest honor as a tour guide.  I received "Tour Guide of the Season" by Princess cruise lines, our top selling cruise ship.  This means that when I gave a tour, the guests went back to the ship to the excursion office and filled out a tour guide recognition form mentioning my name more than any other in the city of Juneau.  I mean, that is pretty awesome, but I remain humble and believe that it is everyone involved in the experience at our dog camp that guarantees we will get a positive review of the excursion.  So next week Erin and I will attend a luncheon on the ship and have a small reception for others achievements, as well as mine.  It's almost as if when that happened, it rained good luck on the beautiful Sheep Creek Valley.
       After pursuing my first published article for about five months, I finally got confirmation that my very first story will be published in none other than the amazing Mushing magazine.  A story about my life as a tour guide, and all the ins and outs of handling for Iditarod racing mushers, as well as recreational kennels.  It is an honor to have the voice of an apprentice be heard in this magazine.  Usually you read of the up and coming mushers, or those established and dominating the race scene.  Seldom do the voices of those handlers who work for peanuts in the winter get heard, and seldom does a musician dog musher turned beer enthusiast get a shot at the hot press!  An exciting time as we near the end of the season, dogs from our glacier camps are being flown down today, and everyone is getting excited to start their winter endeavours.  For Erin and I, we are somewhere between driving to Fairbanks or flying to Hawaii.  We'll see where the wind takes us, for we are birds who's feathers are too bright to be caged.