Sunday, May 11, 2008

Racing for Life

Howdy everyone, happy Mother's day! Just returned from a nice morning walk with Spencer. The countryside here in western Conneticut is spellbinding. Spence is really enjoying all of the various scents in the air. My sister and her husband Greg live in an old village right out of a Steven King Novel- even have an early 19th century cathedral just across the street. It's bell recently chimed signalling services were underway. For me "church" has always commenced whenever I set foot in the woods. Everyone always asks, " Who was the person who you wanted to be like when you decided to become a dogmusher? Rick Swenson? Jeff King? No, my hero has never "Won" any lil' Iditarod race. My hero was a fella who covered a thousand miles not by dogteam but by his own two feet. His name was John Muir. Johnny would throw a few pieces of bread in a small sack and travel for weeks all across North America living off the land. It's funny watching these fellas on tv trying to be tough guys in front of a camera- walking thru swamps, eating bugs- whatever. There's a difference between being an actor and being the 'real deal'. The best part about Mr. Muir however was his incredible gift for writing- any wise teacher would make his literature required reading in their classrooms- its eloquence in describing the beauty of Mother Nature is quite enjoyable to peruse. His novels are what brought me north however his habits have nearly destroyed my career at times. John was very spontaneous- out the door and away he went, Madison, Wisconsin to Florida, all over California and beyond. His boots were definately made for walking. With a dogteam to care for I've learned, ever so slowly, over the years to slow down a bit, be prepared and... enjoy the ride. At Laughing Eyes Kennel our "Goal" isn't just about doing well in the Big Race, The Iditarod. It's about winning "THE RACE'- LIFE. What a beautiful planet we live on, so much to see and explore. We've all been given this great treasure- now it's up to you to spread your gifts to others around the globe. It's a beautiful day, isn't it?
Love you mom, Hugh and the Crew

If you can make it THERE, you can make in ANYWHERE

Greetings DOG enthusiasts!Our "Never Lose Hope" tour passed thru the "Big Apple", Manhattan, friday. Mother Nature made sure it was quite an adventure. Our talk with the kids went well, then Spence and I met up with my old buddy from Loyola, Jim Ostry, for lunch. That's when the rain really started falling like 'cats and dogs' from the sky. On the return north to my sister Teresa's in Conn. I was in for quite the culture shock. Huge drops of water pounded onto the windshield as we were forced to travel in the center lanes on FDR drive, the side being under water. It was at this point that I started having flashbacks about the movie, "The Day After Tomorrow". It's not 'Global Warming'- it's Global WETTING. I was just happy that the temps. were in the 60's so we didn't need to worry as much about tornadoes- our last school tour we passed by one just south of Chicago. People always wonder how we survive Alaska's rough weather but to be quite honest, I believe the 'lower 48's' is much more dangerous. Driving north on 95 dozens of vehicles were involved in accidents as we went along- it felt like being in Baghdad. What caught me off guard was how nonchalant the radio announcers were giving traffic reports as if this were an everyday occurrence. Our return trip would take nearly two hours longer than the trip into the city,crazy.

Despite the weather, our stay on the east coast this week has been wonderful, hopefully one of these year's we'll be able to perform in Maine and the other northeastern states- it's the only area of the U.S. that I haven't driven thru. Every school has been interesting and unique- the 'energy' these New Yorkers possess is mystifying- they're all a bunch of Lance Mackey's. (they wish) Have one more talk on Monday in Rochester and then it's back to the Hacienda on Annie Lake. Once I return home Tamra will be getting a well deserved break as she heads off to merry old England for a family reunion with her P's. She's been a saint caring for all the lil' poopers while I've been travelling with Spencer. He's doing okay on this trip but I'm sure he can't wait to get back to the kennel and see all of his buddies. (Lord knows what he's been dreaming about lately.) At heart I'm an explorer, it's been intriguing to once again get a feel for the pulse of America by travelling its highways and byways meeting newfound friends along the way. Much of the world really doesn't care too much for the U.S. government but all of the americans I've met have been decent, kind, and generous souls. Wishing you well on your adventures. Make sure to stop by if you're ever in our neck of the woods, there's a cozy cabin and some cuddly canines waiting for ya to play with!
Enjoy the view, Hugh

Friday, May 02, 2008

LIfe comes full circle

Greetings from Chi-town!
Left Annie Lake a few days ago in a snowstorm, arrived in chi-town to 75 degree weather. Been travelling around with Spencer showing him all of my favorite childhood places to play. Took him to clark st. beach in Evanston where I swam in lake michigan as a child. He liked chasing the birds- wasn't too into the water however. Walked past the spot where many moons ago (13 years) I wrote a letter to 5 time Iditarod champ Rick Swenson asking about work opportunites. Rick was the only musher to ever return a note- and it was some of the best advice I ever received. Amazing to think that I've raced in 5 Iditarods with this great man already, was lucky enough to finish ahead of him a time or two. Went by our old house on Colfax st. where I grew up, if you like movies- we lived in the same neighborhood where pix such as 16 Candles, Uncle Buck and Risky Business were filmed. How ironic that my old newspaper route was called 22 north. In our 1st Iditarod we placed 22nd! Went by Westmoreland Country Club- I was a caddy there for a dozen years, being lucky enough to carry actor Bill Murray's clubs a time or two. And now where do we live? Out west where there's 'more land'.

Now some might think that any successes that we've achieved in dogmushing are a result of the work we perform each day. That's only a part of the equation. I truly believe that much of who you are, your personality, is a result of how you were brought up and taught as a child. That's why it's such a great honor to travel around the country each season helping teachers 'groom' their kids for the future. We all deserve a chance to live our DREAMS. Wouldn't you agree? Hoping to visit your school one day.
Hugh and The Laughing Eyes Kennel Crew

p.s. hello to everyone at the talk yesterday in Chicago, Spencer says thanks for all the "loving" as well!