The quiet town of Jackson Hole was alive with dogs barking bright and early today. We ate breakfast at The Bunnery (I’ve been craving it for a year now) and sat with Mark Nordman and Denny Albert. It was great to see those guys after our visit with them in Alaska. The Moderow crew also rolled in for the infamous breakfast. We got to the vet check early and found that so did 10 other teams. Finally, we got to see fellow dog mushers! The vet checks went fast this year and it was fun meeting all the new folks and getting to see old friends again. Everyone was talking about the insane weather they were having in their parts and looking forward to the mild weather in Wyoming. Sam & Petra are here without their son Quinn for the first time because he is now a big boy and in school. It will seem a little wierd without the race mascot running spouting outlandish things — we will miss that bright cheery little guy! Another person we will miss in the race pits is Grant Beck’s wife who had to stay home for her job. Jeff King was the last to arrive to much fanfare. The TV crew was all over him. Bruce went over and said hello and he didn’t remember us from our visit to Alaska ……….can you imagine 😉
The pre-race stuff went smoothly and everyone was very excited to be here and about the purse. The atmosphere at the driver’s meeting was very upbeat and not as intense as we’ve seen in past years, which is surprising given the huge purse. The race organization told us that Pedigree is totally into this race and we heard rumors that they have agreed to another three years. So folks, if you haven’t put this race in your plans……..this is a race you must figure out a way to get to. It’s just awesome. We were once told, “If you wait until you’re ready to come to this race, you will never come. Just come.” Check out the photos of driver’s meeting in the gallery.
The town went all out again, lots of folks, music, food etc. Pedigree gave us all duffel bags, hats, fleece coats, large Pedigree race magnets for your truck and dog bowls this year. I love all the goodies. The staging area was very calm this year and it might have been becuase we just stuck to ourselves. Although there are several rookies at this race, most are very seasoned mushers so I think that was part of the calm. We decided to go with 5 dogs this year due to the looks of the trail they were putting in. We put Cracker and Pepper in lead. We wanted to see how Pepper would handle the crowds in lead. Then we ran Quest in Point followed by Cheyenne and Utah in wheel. The wheel dogs are both 2 year olds new to racing and we wanted them exposed to the crowds as well. Well, we couldn’t have been more pleased. Those darn dogs acted like they have done this for years. I’ve never seen Pepper so amped. The 2 year olds were grinning for the crowds and screaming and jumping. Bruce said that Pepper was unreal. He drove through everything and never blinked an eye. The crowds were blowing horns, screaming, waving lights at the turns and he never even blinked. So that boy just earned himself a spot probably in lead on the stages where we may have to get out of town. Bruce said the trail was harder and faster than in past years. It will be interesting to see how everyone played this hand. There is murmurs of a little over confidence going on in some camps. This race is known for bringing everyone back to reality so it should be interesting. The vets commented that this year ALL the teams looked really healthy so that is cool. We are expecting some hard fast trails. Lander is confirmed, we will only be doing a loop of approx. 52 miles. Tomorrow we head to Lander.