Friday, January 25, 2013

Meeting friends and planning future events

As most of you know probably, we are volunteering for the Yukon Quest at mile 101, a remote checkpoint with an amazing location, blocked between Rosebud summit (not as famous as Eagle summit but believe me it is as hard) and Eagle summit, I think that we can say that this checkpoint is usually pretty popular for the musher and dogs to rest and refocus.

The picture is from last year, this year it goes the other way so from Whitehorse to Fairbanks

Piia will be checker and help with dog yard and other tasks in the checkpoint. It is going to be really exciting, we hope that mushers will understand her accent after many hours of effort climbing Eagle Summit.
Julien will be in charge of communication, which is exciting since mile 101 is SO remote.

We are really looking forward for this adventure and hope that everything will go smoothly! We will try to get some pictures even though we are going to be pretty busy when musher will arrive. We are going to know who is first in mile 101, after that the musher will cross the Two Rivers checkpoint and cross the finish line.

We had a meeting about that on Friday where we met most of the crew and we planned the work we have to do there, we will leave the 8th of February and we expect the first mushers around the 10th.

Last week we also met many of our friends. On Thursday we visited our co-worker Lena's house and enjoyed dinner with Lena and her husband's cute 6-month-old son Gideon. 

On Saturday we had dinner with Scott, Kerry, the girls and our new "neighbour" Nick, who moved to the guest cabin and is taking a mountaineering class at UAF. And on Sunday we had a game night in Torben's and Danitza's place. So it was a very nice week with nice moments with very nice people.

Another hot news for us this week, the almost confirmation that Julien got a working holiday visa for our stay in Canada, it makes things a lot easier even though Piia can't get it. It will allow him to work with a real contract and to earn some money. Piia would be considered as common in law partner since we have lived together more than one year and will be allowed to stay in Canada but not to work.

We have a crazy project which could allow us to stay active in our domain of study while traveling, one of our solution could be to create a micro company in Europe and to charge our clients Canadian or US as international clients, that way we could do some remote work and enjoy traveling. But well we will see if this idea go somewhere if you know something about international umbrella company or societe de portage in french, let us know!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Two Rivers Solstice 100

This weekend we volunteered for the solstice 100, organized by Two Rivers dog musher association. The Solstice 100 is a race around Two Rivers, it's about 100 miles (or was supposed to be, but some problems on the trail made it a bit shorter) and starts from Pleasant Valley store. There is a 4-hour-layover after the first loop and then a second loop a bit shorter.

Piia helped with the paperwork and the bibs while Julien was on the parking lot where the teams were getting ready. About 10 teams took part in this race since many other mushers were at the Copper Basin 300.

It's pretty interesting to watch the mushers getting ready, you usually learn a lot just by watching. After the start, we went to a crossroad where Piia helped stoping the cars for the mushers and Julien took pictures. Then we went back to the checkpoint to check and learn how experienced musher deal with checkpoint chores.






On Sunday we took advantage of the good trail conditions to do our first run behind the mountain which sit at the back of our backyard. The area is quite nice, full of hills and with low vegetation, the dogs, Piia and me enjoyed a lot!

During the beginning of the week the weather went crazy and we had some rain, then in the middle of the week we got -15C, no need to tell you that driving to town was quite an adventure!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Holiday summary

So the two-week holiday is over and we are back at work, the fact that seems to require at least another two weeks of adaptation. We had an amazing holiday, with beautiful Christmas ambiance, an unforgettable change of the New Year, plenty of outdoor activities and of course plenty of good things to eat and drink. We started our vacation in around -35 °C but the temperature rose quickly and around the New Year it was close to 0 °C some days. 

And we also witnessed the sunrises getting a bit earlier, the sunsets getting a bit later, and the sun itself rising a bit higher on our backyard sky as the days went by. Like the sun, we kept having high holiday moments throughout the days, but also one big low moment.

Christmas and Solstice

It was lovely to spend the Christmas in our small cabin with beautiful Christmas ambiance. We had the Christmas cards that we received from our friends and family decorating the walls, we lighted candles every morning and night, listened Christmas songs from a laptop, eating chocolate and... On Saturday before Christmas Eve, Julien got a Christmas tree from the forest surrounding our cabin. We got ornaments from Scott and Kerry, and after careful decoration, for Piia the tree was the most beautiful tree in the whole world.

On Saturday we also had our pre-Christmas dinner with Scott, Kerry and the girls. Following Finnish traditions Piia made Carrot casserole for dinner and for French traditions an almond pie for dessert. We also had delicious deviled eggs, salad, different kinds of cheese and traditional pierogi from Pennsylvania. And so had the feast started, of course with plenty of wine as well! The dessert hid a surprise in it: it is a French tradition to hide something inside the pie (this time it was a piece of plastic) and whoever gets it, is the king or queen of the party. This time Scott had the honor, and he chose Kerry to be his Queen. It was a great night to start the holiday!

Then on Christmas Eve we created our own special menu combining American, French and Finnish traditions, to celebrate both Christmas and also Solstice in our own cabin. 

So for starters we had deviled eggs, baguettes and cheese. For main dish we enjoyed moose steaks with red wine sauce fried potatoes, and finally for dessert cheese cake with blueberry sauce. Of course it wasn't like back at home, but pretty damn close!

We started the Christmas day with rice porridge and cloudberry soup, like we always do in Finland. It hid an almond in it, and whoever gets that, will do the dishes. Since Piia do them anyway, it was convenient that Piia got the almond

New Year

For the New Year’s Eve we were first invited to Sandra and Todd’s house to enjoy the early evening with bonfire and good food. It was a nice outside gathering and we met our friends and also many new people there. 

We didn't spend the whole night there since we had dogs to feed, so we decided to welcome the New Year in a way we have never done before. So at 11.30 pm we prepared the dogs and the sled for a very special midnight run. And indeed, we did the countdown for the New Year 2013 while mushing on the Winter trail! 

No better way to change the year!

On New Year’s Day we accidentally found our friends’ house while driving with a snow machine looking for new trails to run with the dogs. We ended up spending the evening there, with good food, good stories and too much to drink.

Outdoor activities

You can take it for granted that we spent a lot of time outside during our holiday. Mostly we did mushing, almost every day, and the dogs were very excited to go out so often. 

Just before the holidays we had two new dogs joining our Escape Team: Cuppy and Bingo.

The sweet giant who gives you high five every time you go and say hi to him. And although he can’t see, he’s running in the team as everyone else, working hard, not wanting to stop. Here Cuppy running with Stella.

Also a sweet giant, with an extra amount of energy and enthusiasm. He’s jumping up and down wherever he is, but when you go to pet him, he will roll on the ground and enjoy the attention.

With our reinforced team we did some smaller and longer runs, tried new trails and we also did one overnight trip to a Colorado Creek cabin, which it’s about 20 km run from our cabin. 

So one morning we packed the sled and one snow machine with overnight gear for the dogs and us and enjoyed the beautiful way up to the cabin, Piia with sled and Julien with a snow machine and camera. It was only fair that after leaving the easy Winter trail and climbing steadily towards the Colorado Creek cabin, Piia had to work with the dogs as well. With all the outdoor clothes that you put on you when you start mushing, it’s very sweaty business to run uphill and push the sled with you. But after that you respect your dogs even more for the hard work they do, and you are allowed to eat as much chocolate as you dragged on your sled!

The cabin was a small but cosy and we enjoyed our night there with full moon light. 

The next day Julien mushed with the dogs and it was Piia’s turn to take the snow machine and the camera. Sun was already setting on our way even though it felt like we left in the morning time. But the day was still a couple minutes longer than the previous day!


Other than mushing, we also spend some time running the dogs lose. Boy they enjoyed that! 
They played together, ran in the snow and clearly couldn't believe their good luck for being able to run free like that. You could really see the smile on their face!

We went also skiing around the property and driving the snow machine along the trails of Two Rivers. Due the warmer weather, there are some overflows along the creeks.

And we enjoyed the candle light and music!

Despite all the great holiday moments and adventures, we can’t say the holiday was perfect. And even though we started our new year in an amazing way, we also lost something at the same time. On the New Year’s Day morning we had to say goodbye to one of our team members, Casey, who left us peacefully while sleeping in her house. She was an amazing sled dog, small but always working hard, and yet always wagging her tail and ready to go again. We miss her very much; she left an empty place in our god yard and our hearts.