Um, sled dogs in Bend, Oregon?! Totally.
The whole sled dog thing started about a year ago. K came across this book at a garage sale and figured I'd like it. Nonfiction? Dogs? Alaska? No brainer. What he didn't anticipate, was how MUCH I would like it.
It's a beautiful story of place, people and the art of working with a dog team. But the author, it turns out, didn't actually know anything about mushing. He simply moved to Alaska, learned about dogs, trained and VOILA. He then traveled 800 miles by sled one season. Wait, I could SO do this.
Suddenly, I was convinced this could be my life. I've lived in Africa. Alaska wouldn't be that crazy, right? (And this is when K started muttering regret about the purchase.)
He pitched a compromise. How about, instead of uprooting our cushy, urban lives to become cold, cabin-dwelling mushers, he would take me on a sled ride nearby? In Bend. For my birthday.
Trail of Dreams runs tourist sled dog trips from Mt. Bachelor and is owned by Rachel Scdoris —three-time competitor in the Iditarod, (the iconic 1,200-mile race across Alaska)—and her father, Jerry. They still race and compete, too and, according to our mush guide that day, own about 120 dogs.
These dogs are fit and scrappy. My favorite kind.
ASTONISHING: the frenzy displayed when dogs wait to see who is selected to run on a team. The barking. Jumping. The PICK ME. Pick me. When the sled takes off? Silence. (And the pelting of snow and ice.)
It's clear these working dogs love what they do. And it was, hands down, the best mode of travel ever. (Thanks so much, K!) Next step: go see a part of the Iditarod race.
I might not give up that book dream after all.