We left on Monday and drove for 1 ½ days through the best that the mid-west has to offer; treeless landscapes, the biggest truck stops you’ll ever see and treacherous bad roads. I really don’t recommend this drive for scenery. Once we left our time was filled with driving, dropping dogs and staying in cheap motels. Over the 1 ½ days we had to drop the dogs 5 times per day. That means we each lifted 9 dogs 10 times. So by the time we arrived at the destination we had already lifted about 6,750 lbs. each. That means over the course of this trip, we’ll lift approximately 101,250 lbs. I’m starting to wonder where the vacation part comes in; are you?
We arrived in Wycolo late on Wednesday afternoon. A cold, snowy blizzard welcomed us Wyoming style as we climbed the Snowy Mountain Range into the heart of the Medicine Bow National Forest. Driving through Laramie you would never suspect that this snowy paradise exists. Typically, Laramie is snow free and Medicine Bow is tucked up high away from the highway. There were deer everywhere all along the roadside to make the ride even more exciting. It’s hard to enjoy wildlife along the sides of the road when visibility is poor, the roads are icy and you are constantly careening down mountain grades.
When we saw our accommodations we were thrilled. It was a charming little wood cabin complete with all the amenities; fridge, range, water, plumbing and heat!!! The thrill began to wear off as we hauled all our crap into the little cabin and realized the dog truck was probably bigger. Not a problem, we will be outside most of the time anyway; right? Immediately after hauling the luggage in, the altitude started to affect us. This flatlander wound up with a full blown headache and a woozy stomach just from hauling luggage. We didn’t feel bad enough to hang it up for the night and so we headed to the one and only place for food/entertainment/socializing; the pub. We will later discover that we are drawn to the pub like moths to a streetlight. After a fun dinner socializing with the locals, we headed back to drop dogs and hit the hay. Unfortunately, our first night in the little cabin was akin to sleeping on a cement block with a heater blowing directly in your face; not so charming.
On Thursday I woke to discover the charming little cabin had given me a bloody nose and I felt like someone had beat me with a baseball bat. Today was the day we allowed the dogs (or maybe the humans) to adjust to the altitude so we went into Laramie and bought groceries to sustain life in the mountains. There is no way that I could not have food readily available at all times! I was super excited to discover the Laramie Safeway is a totally rad grocery store with all sorts of fun stuff. Yippee!!! Sorry, the foodie in me gets carried away. Nothing is worse than having to shop for food away from home and all they have is white bread and processed crap on the shelves. So once we satisfied my food needs, I went to the chiropractor and massage therapist; am I a freaking Diva or what? Actually, I’m not a Diva. My delightful little bulging disk at C5 has necessitated a weekly visit to the chiropractor and massage therapist or I’m left in pain and quite cranky. So this was a necessity; just ask Bruce! I was super impressed with the chiropractic office and the staff. However, I walked away feeling like a mid-west wimp. They do some serious massages in this state; I literally woke up with bruises all over my arms, shoulders and back. On the upside I felt great and even the cement bed started to feel comfy! The girl told me my arms, shoulders and back were like rope; see what lifting 102,000 lbs will do for you! Too bad the rope is covered with a nice layer of “foodie fat”! Off to the pub for dinner, I can’t worry about stuff like that.
Friday we headed to the training trail for our first run. We joined some other mushers, which is always nice the first time you have to venture out on an unknown trail. It had snowed non-stop since we arrived so it was not surprising to see that the trails had some areas that were not groomed. The dogs had a bit of a work out on day one. We got back from training and it was off to the pub for dinner and later a movie.
Day three, the cabin seems smaller. Did it shrink? Probably from all the flaming water we are tracking in. I had to set down some rules. We can only walk on one side of the cabin with boots on cause there is nothing worse than walking around in your socks and stepping in a wet puddle on the floor. That my friends will drive a girl crazy in a little cabin like this. When I suggested this my husband inquired, “Didn’t you bring slippers?” I answered him with the look and pointed to the one side of the cabin. He responded by running in his boots all over the other side of the cabin. This is when the insanity started. “Itty Bitty Cabin Fever (I.B.C.F.) had started to grab hold of me.
We both squeezed onto the only seat in the place; a futon and spent our day dropping dogs, working on our laptops and watching a bunch of crappy movies. From the kitchen window we watched a little blizzard rear its ugly head all day long. The conversation that day was something along these lines, “Time to drop.” “OK” “Wanna watch another movie?” “Sure” “Time to Drop” “Uh, huh” “What do ya want to do? Wanna watch another movie?” “I suppose” “Time to Drop” “Whatever” “Should we do another movie?” “Nah, let’s go to the pub and eat” “K” “Time to drop” “Do you need help?” “No” “K, I’ll put another movie in.”
We were starting to settle in. We had even gotten wise to the heat in the cabin and at night we turned it way down and then we allowed the 3 feed buckets in the shower to double as a humidifier; ingenious, heh! Nothing more homey than the smell of raw meat permeating the cabin.
Day four, another training day, but one filled with excitement. It had been snowing every single day since we arrived and the wind had been absolutely fierce. The massage therapist told me that some folks actually develop psychological problems due to the wind. I could understand; you feel like someone is constantly throwing snow in your face walking around this place and it’s hard to hear yourself think. I almost told her that folks develop psychological problems staying in itty bitty cabins too, but I refrained. Anyway, back to training. We decided we would rent a snowmobile to break trail, if necessary. We got to the trail, prepared the team and took off. I led on the snowmobile. I discovered my days as a sled head are long gone as I choked on the fumes and nearly went insane with the helmet on and the inability to hear nature over the roar of the engine. I can’t believe I thought it, but I actually wanted to hear the wind. I can remember loving the smell of the exhaust fumes; it meant winter had arrived. Today, I prefer doggie exhaust J
The trail had been groomed and was in pretty good shape except for the windblown areas. Then I came out of the woods into a wide open section and I was unable to tell what direction the trail went. It appeared that it went to the right, but it could also have gone straight and a huge section of the trail had been blown over. I stopped and waited for Bruce. I pointed to the right and he nodded yes. I started to drive and looked back to see that he was stopped. He changed his mind, the trail went straight. I turned around and started towards the trail thinking the team would follow me. However, one of our leaders had his own idea. He turned back into the team and then swung the entire team 180 degrees back to the direction they had just come. I got off and ran towards them to turn them around as Bruce couldn’t hook down in the deep snow. Now, first allow me to mention that the word “run” is a tad inappropriate as the snow was up to my thighs at certain points. So I ran, fell, walked, ran, fell …… Needless to say before I reached the leaders the little dog decided that he had an even better plan and swung the team another 180 degrees to complete a full circle. Bruce looked like he was hanging onto a spinning top. I turned back and ran to the leaders…..oops trudged back…..dove and finally grabbed them. At this point ½ were on one side of some very large trail markers and the rest were on the other side. Bruce was yelling instructions as if I couldn’t figure out they had to be sorted out. Fortunately, I was too out of breath to tell him my thoughts. As I’m trying to straighten them out, I fall in a majorly deep snow drift and lose the team. The leader, which I have aptly renamed “f’n Numskull” has returned 90 degrees to the right. I can no longer breathe, which means I can no longer trudge fast. I jump on the sled. Ok, so I FELL on the sled and started calling the name of the other leader; whom I hoped was a tad rational. I gunned the engine and started to leave. Praise God, hallelujah they followed. The remainder of the run I wondered if Bruce had changed his mind about racing the unguided missile in lead.
We returned to the cabin, parked on the futon and discussed the team’s performance. At one point, we looked at each other and I said, “Now what do you want to do?” “Movie?” “No, sick of movies.” So just like little moths we headed to the light; in other words we went to the pub. This casual pace is just shy of torture for folks like us who never seem to have time to slow down. Seriously, it’s pretty bad when you look forward to a shower just for something to do. We’ve learned that it always takes us about a week before we can relax and finally enjoy being on vacation. Up until that time, we’re a little on edge. Our wanderlust told us that evening that it was time to move on and ease the edginess.