{Tsuga Siberians}
March 4th, 2009 - "Homeward Bound"


What trails lie ahead??

Ambler is ready to go!

Hello all and thanks so much for all the greetings from around the world weíve received since Quest. We are glad to have such a following and hope we can continue to inspire you to follow your dreams and work hard to make them happen. This yearís Quest and racing season is over for us, but when time, money, and our kennel situation allows it, we WILL race Quest again. A scratch will not be our way to say goodbye to this amazing event. For now, we are packing up the truck and will leave Two Rivers tomorrow. We are heading first for our friends Mike and Caitlinís home in Cantwell, just below Denali Park. Then itís off to the Iditarod ceremonial start in Anchorage on Saturday and the restart in Willow on Sunday. From there, weíll get over to Moeís on Annie Lake Road near Whitehorse for a few days before setting off on the Alaska Highway, headed south. After another stop a couple days later at Ramsteadsí in Alberta, weíll pick up the pace and hope to be home by the vernal equinox. What then? Well, honestly we donít really know yet.

Our kennel is at a crossroads. This year we trained 15 dogs for Quest, a very small margin for error. We made it through training with no injuries, but didnít have that same luck in the Quest. Having such a small pool of dogs is a major disadvantage as we have tried to push the pace in racing. Weíve found that we have 8 or so dogs that can handle the faster pace we tried this year, but that is not enough. Next year, we will loose 4 of the 15 to retirement. This means Quest and Iditarod are out of the picture for the near future. So, we are planning on trying for some puppies and maybe even buying a couple of quality adults from proven lines of Siberians. It will be at least 2011 before we are ready to come back to a 1000-mile race and that would be a slower, puppy-training event. Between now and then, well, thatís a big question mark. We canít stay in the house we built and live in now. Our neighbors have cut off our trail access and without that, we canít train a dog team. So, despite loving the land and house we have put so much in to, we will be moving in the near future. How that is all going to work out, we donít know yet, but to stay in mushing, itís necessary. We are bitten too severely by the mushing bug to think of life without these wonderful dogs. So stay tuned, TeamTsuga has a strong future as we build on the foundation weíve put down this decade. From racing 5 dogs in 30-mile events just 9 years ago, to racing with the very best in sport at the most extreme level this year; we have come a long way. We look forward to continuing to learn and improve as mushers and kennel managers. The great thing about this lifestyle is that there is always room to improve and ways to do better. Every day on the runners is different than the day before and the dogs always want more. We just try to keep up.

Speaking of the dogs, since Quest they have all healed up and have at least a couple of runs in harness since being back, even Trip, Gila, Lotus, and Ambler. Yesterday Sue and I each took a team of ten and we ran all the dogs around a short (16 mile) loop here from the kennel at Bill and Sandyís. Iíll send along a few pictures from the run. Itís such a joy to just go out for short fun runs. The dogs love it and so do we!

So, once again, thanks so much to all of you who have helped out in various ways over the season. Our friends and family and strangers from around the world have overwhelmed us with warm wishes and encouragement. Thank you. Loyall Dogfood, Mountain Ridge, and CB Sleds have helped with things we canít do without. Please help them out and tell them TeamTsuga sent you, if you get the chance. Special mention also must go to a few folks who went above and beyond, namely my Mom, Sandy and Bill, Tom and Linda, Moe, Peter and Joyce, Renee and Rob, Bob and Pam, Carol Nash and John Linnehan, Hank Hiller, Sandy and Leon, and our crew of Tsuga Tsuperphans (you know who you are!).

As the late, great Norman Vaughn said, ďDream Big and Dare to Fail.Ē
Weíre still dreamingÖ


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