The Drive – Dog Shopping Excursion

I’m not sure what ever possessed me to think that I’d be able to blog every day on this trip, but once we crossed into Canada it became obvious that internet signals and cell signals were virtually non-existent. I guess in one way that made it a true vacation, but now I find myself having to really work the old memory bank to re-create this 12- day excursion to Alaska. Since most of you are aware of my problem with Red Bull consumption, believe me this is no easy task!
Bruce and I left around 6AM on Wednesday morning and headed straight to the kennel to pick up 3 dogs that we had sold and were delivering along the way. We arrived in Minnesota to meet the Anderson’s around 18 hours later. Needless to say, I was already tired of driving and I shuttered to think that we had 60+ hours to go. Since we were on a marathon, endurance vacation there would be no rest for the weary and we packed the Anderson’s stuff into the truck and headed immediately back out onto the highway. JR took the wheel and Bruce and I had our first night in the back seat. It was that first night when I really started to question my sanity. I think it was the unintentional yoga position that I found myself coiled in as I tried to sleep that kept forcing me to wonder what ever possessed us to do this. It brought a whole new meaning to meditation. Instead of chanting the mantra “Ohhhhmmmmm, Ooohhmmmm”, my mind was chanting, “Whhhyyyyy, Whyyyyyyy”. The constant nagging pain of joints aching, and my limbs falling asleep denied me any serious rest. It was more of a twilight sleep where you heard everything, but had your eyes closed. By about 4AM, I gave up and popped my first Red Bull…… was all downhill after that!
Poor Bruce had also assumed a yoga position this first night; however, it was not the downward dog, but more like a new position which we will call “endurance driver”. Believe me when I say it is a real stretch for him (no pun intended) to get into any sort of yoga position let alone one not intended to be. Envision this man lying on his back with his butt against the door and his legs in the air in a cross legged position. It did not look natural and although I was impressed, I wondered if we would all have to un-pry his legs when it was his turn at the wheel. As it turns out, he was able to un-pry himself; however, he learned he had tweaked something in his back and found that walking had become a problem. We showed him no mercy at first, but as it continued on into the next day it became apparent that he was in a great deal of pain. He later told me that we didn’t fully understand how scared he was that the he was going to have to endure this pain for the entire trip. So I doubt that I’ll be talking him into any yoga sessions real soon.
We got to Bismark Thursday morning and met up with Allan Barge to deliver two dogs. After a little dog talk, we headed out to the first stop in our kennel tour; the Streeper’s Kennel, 30 hours away. The ride there was a constant regime of alternating between front and back seats every 4 hours, snacking on junk food, coffee and energy drinks and, of course, talking dogs. Once in Canada we traveled deeper and deeper into the depths of the remote north country. At first it was miles and miles of farm land, but as we neared Ft. Nelson, where the Streeper’s live, the terrain became more mountainous and exciting. Traveling in these parts of Canada is not like in the United States where you can find a 24 hour gas station virtually every 30 minutes. We would go for hours and not see civilization and then we’d see gas stations only to learn they closed early. Fortunately, we had the forethought to carry gas with us because we actually had to use it. We had reached the Alaskan Highway and got low on gas around 5AM. Bruce and I were driver/navigator and we found a station only to learn it was closed. This became our first camp site and we passed out in the parking lot in hopes they would open early. When we awoke we learned they had no intention of opening and we had to haul out the gas cans. I remember waking up thinking I had gotten at least 6 hours of sleep. I was elated, but felt guilty we had lost so much time. I quickly learned that my 6 hours was only 1 ½ hours; it became painfully obvious that I was clearly delusional by this point. I had probably gone 48 hours with less than 6 hours of sleep. Thank goodness I had lots of preparation for this handling at dog races because it didn’t get any better! Oh, and although I’m ashamed to admit it, I packed a case of Red Bulls for just this type of situation.
The Alaskan Highway is not conducive to sleeping even for the best sleepers with the exception of Anna. She managed to sleep 90% of the trip much to our amusement and wonderment. The highway is 1000+ miles of cement ribbon that has huge frost heaves the entire way. Just as you would nod off the truck would become airborne from a frost heave and you are immediately jolted awake upon impact. There were moments I worried about whiplash as you became limber from sleep only to awake with your head slamming against the window or door. Anna kept saying it was like being rocked to sleep. I had to wonder if her mom rode motocross while she was in the womb or something; it just wasn’t natural!

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