Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bless this Cabin We Call Home...

"Dream as if you'll live forever. LIVE as if you'll die today." - James Dean

Hey folks,

Have finally returned to our Annie Lake Oasis. Nice to be back within the warm embrace of our pack. Nothing compares with the energy of a musher's 'Doggie community', suppose that's why many of us choose this rather secluded lifestyle. In our presentations many of the ?'s we hear are about dog racing. It's the day to day living that is the centerpiece of our souls. "Hey there Spencer, How ya doin' Mr. Amigo? Omen leave Colby alone! Can't you girls just get along?" The best question I've ever been asked concerning dawgs is: "How do you make sure they all get enough love?"

Patience, Persistance and Plenty of Practice! Was a pleasure meeting so many new friends this past month. As well as many playmates from my youth! Back to the dogyard- where we belong... HHN

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wild Bill

Wild Bill

Every time we greet
I look into your bright blue eyes
Through them I can see
your wisdom and happiness.

When we hug I can feel your heart.
It's larger than most, the tests call it quite the feat.
I know it's true because I see
the love you have for everyone you meet.

To thousands of children
you've brought hope and joy
I hope you know
you're a very special boy.

In your three years since being born,
you've seen more than any other I know.
Not only the Quest trail and Iditarod
(both north and south routes),
but the Denali trail (from Cantwell to Paxson), Kobuk and Kusko.

Wild Bill, you're the pride of your mom Omen and your dad Maestro,
and the envy of your siblings Delilah, Tolliver, Tyler, Ellsworth and Bullock.

Most of all know how proud we are of the great
performances you've given over the past three weeks.
You'll always be the shining star
at the center of our heart.
-- your other mom and dad, Tamra and Hugh, xxxx

Going To The Dawgs...

"Never let schooling get in the way of a good education." - Coach Tony Ingle

Hello everyone,
In Chicago now, will be here for the weekend then through Seattle and Vancouver before arriving in Whitehorse. In many respects this last month has been tougher than most 1,000 mile sled races we've participated in. It's also at times been quite uplifting and enjoyable as well. There are so many people to thank that I apologize if we forget to mention you, it's a bit of a challenge to remember so many folks all within just a few weeks time.
Thanks go out to all of the teachers who sought us out to enlighten their children's minds with a different view of this world from our northern perspective. Sarah Lux and the Loudermilk family just ouside of Atlanta were wonderful. (Though it took us a while to figure out where there house was.) Mrs. Terrill and the kids at Midway were well prepared, thoughtful with wonderful boiled Georgia peanuts as a bonus. Pam Thompson and her "60's" kids were hilarious as ever. While in the Atlanta area we spent most of our time with fellow Iditarod musher Bill Borden and his lovely wife Brenda. Muchas Gracias to the both of them for being such kind hosts. Bill's hoping to set up a system where dogmushers who have finished a 1,000 miler can join together to travel around the country spreading the 'Good News' of the North.

Our next stop was in Abingdon, Virginia- before that Bill wanted me to meet one person before I left Georgia first. Kennesaw State is just outside of Atlanta, a few years back their basketball team won the 2A National Championship. They were having a get together for the booster club and was it ever impressive. What made it so was a man named Tony. Born with a birth defect that covers much of his body, Tony refused to lose. Not a very bright student either, he still would not relinquish the desire to be a better player, a better human. After hearing his rousing speech I could see why others were willing to perform their best for this man. His words are still echoing in my mind- Thanks Coach!

Visiting with The Campbell family in Abingdon was great. Teresa and Kevin are wonderful parents with 3 beautiful daughters. They had a b-day barn party for Ashton as she celebrated her 15th. The next day I visited with Mary Akers and a friend. After lunch her daughter's school in Rhea Valley was next on the agenda. Was fun to revisit with these small town folks after a few years. From there it was on to Crookesville, Ohio for our next talk- Shelley Sowers and friends were quite kind in Buckeye country. Our talk that afternoon was on the northwest side of Columbus in Hilliard, Ohio. The teachers, led by Kathy Donnell had constructed beautiful posters with past pix from previous races on them. One teacher even painted a beautiful mtn. scene with a team passing by-awesome! Every person we met had their own unique personas but what reaaly made all of these moments so special were the heartwarming smiles and endless energy!

Our last midwest presentation was to be the following day just outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan in a small town- Grass Lake. Before leaving Ohio I had a few more folks to meet. A boy named Zack from Sylvania had been hoping that his school would invite us for a visit. Unfortunately they were unable to. His father called and asked if we might join up for dinner, "Sure", I replied. It was a fun time at a local Italian restaurant. Proof for a child that in the end Perserverance pays off. The teachers and students were full of enthusiasm and excitement. It was an enjoyable final talk, it's been quite an adventure these past few weeks. Hope you all have enjoyed the show as much as we like to share our northern treasures with the rest of the world. Travelled Lately? HHN

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Changes in Latitude... Changes in Attitude..."

"Never made it as a Wise man, never made it as a poor man stealing. This is how you remind me of who I really am..." -- ?

Howdy Folks,
Drove thru a pouring rain yesterday, now on the outskirts of Atlanta staying with the Loudermilk family. Sheets of rain pelted the car as I giggled to myself, "Man this storm is awesome- I LIVE for Mother Nature." In my early 20's I was an avid consumer of knowledge. My 'Bible' was a set of books written by a transcendentalist nature writer by the name of John Muir. Of Scottish descent Johnny was made of pure energy, he lived to play in the mtns. Hopefully the dogs and I will have many moons ahead to continue that tradition.

Was an enjoyable weekend in Mooresville with my cousin Bobn. A special thanks to his wife Allison for letting the boys out for a few nights to whoop it up. They have a lovely new boy named Rex. Bob and his friend Tony enjoyed dragging me in the water behind his boat on Lake Norman. Wonderful time there, gorgeous country though I can only imagine what Wild Bill's dreams are like. Do you know many Iditarod dogs that can water ski too? 3 talks over the next few days then on to Virginia. My good friend Mr. Bill Borden, the director of the Iditarod Finisher's club lives in the area. Bill did the race in 2002. Will be fun hanging with him and his wife Brenda. One last comment- we finally did it! We're on Facebook. Be kind to us please- will need to find a camera to put some pix up for everyone.
See ya all down the road! Hugh and Wild Bill

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Time of Our Lives

"Bless The Beasts and The Children..." -- Karen Carpenter

Hey Everyone,
Hope all is well in your worlds. Our past 3 talks have been wonderful. We were in Jersey yesterday with Mrs. Hurley's kids then had a few talks today in Baltimore and Bethesda. The energy at each school is enthralling. Not only from the students but teachers as well. One teacher at our school in Baltimore actually began tap dancing upon petting Mr. Bill. The kids in Bethseda were stalking me everywhere in search of an autograph. Jersey's students kept inquiring, "Do you know so and so?" "What's Lance Mackey like?" Well, I used to hang out with him a bit but not much lately. Hopefully one of these days we'll be able to rectify this situation.
The last few nights we've been staying in a trailer at Cherry Hill Park in College Park, Maryland. Our friends John and Susan stay here as a manager. It's one of the nicest facilities in the U.S.-swimming pools, sauna, jacuzzi, etc. We gave these guys a sledride up on Godwin Glacier a few years back. He's an ex marine and pro rugby player while she ran an environmental awareness program. (as well as once dating legendary QB Billy Kilmer of the Redskins) Had a great B-B-Q tonite met one of their workers who is the uncle of former DePaul and NBA b-ball player Rod Strickland. Wonderful meeting new folks along the way each day, our list of friends continues to grow.
On to Charlotte, North Carolina in the morning, will be staying at my cousin Bob's this weekend- then on to Atlanta on Sunday. A well deserved break for Wild Bill, believe it or not some times a dog can get too much love and petting- animals need their privacy too! He's snoring away next to me as I write these words. Thanks to all of the people at the various schools for helping us organize things these past few days. Especially my assistant Susan who chaperoned us around town today. Will be seeing all you folks down in the Peach Tree state soon!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Heaven on the Hudson

"Nobody loves you when you're down and out, No one sees you when you're on cloud nine. Everyone is hustling for a buck and a dime. I'll scratch your back- you scratch mine. I've been across to the other side. I've shown you everything- I've got nothing to hide... All I can tell you is- it's 'showbiz'..." -- John Lennon

Hey everyone,
Greetings from Westchester County, New York. Staying with the Simon family just south of West Point Military Academy. Beautiful rolling hills run alongside the river's edge, gorgeous weather to match. Sunny but cool for Wild Bill so he doesn't overheat too much. School talks are going well- the teachers and students have all been enthralled. (Though few remember my name- only Mr. Bill's) Heading to Jersey manana then down to Obamaland. The energy at our various presentations has been awesome to witness, what these teachers do on a day to day basis containing it is quite heroic. If only we could put harnesses on these kids and have them pull a sled. It sure does feel good to be young- doesn't it?
One child, Katie, designed a patch for our racing parka. It's orange and blue- her mom Judy helped make it as well. Underneath the dogteam it says: Laughing Eyes Kennel Fights The Wind and Frostbite. Just another reminder of Mother Nature's power over us tiny humans and our canine compadres. Our thanks to these ladies as well as all the teachers and vulunteers at the various schools who helped make everything run so smoothly. Especially Mrs. Byrnes, Dana Duffy, Mr.D., Coach John and Coach Derek as well as a possible future teacher on the trail- Sally Simon. Our 2nd visit to this area has been twice as much fun! Hope to see you all again next year. And to Sally's husband Gary- the next round's on me and hopefully we'll be having it up in Alaska. Enjoy your view! Hugh

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Keeping an Eye on the Future...

"Sometimes You have to lose yourself in order to find yourself."
- Mickey Rourke

Hey Kids,
Bill and Hugh's most excellent adventure is off to a roaring start. It's as if we're on an endless field trip. While most of you are studying us while we are up on stage- all of You schoolkids are being analyzed as well- by me and my buddy Mr. Bill. So far everyone has been amazing. Our 1st talk was with Tamra's parent's group in Toronto which is known as the Probus Society. This is a bit more mature of an audience than we're used to but easily one of the best. With all of the wisdom in the room it was an enlightening experience. We were given some slippers to try out that can be heated up in a microwave and our designed for feet circulation, can't wait to try them out. Brian and Gillian were fun to spend some time with as well as Tamra's brother Shaun.

From there we performed 2 shows in Webster, NY that were filled with much merriment and laughter. A special thanks to Mrs. Greenberg and Mr. Darling as well as our host families the McMillens and Daniels. Wild Bill has been a wonderful crowd pleaser- "Oh, he's so beautiful!" It's funny to watch him stare at our short video presentation, I can't help but start laughing everytime. The drive from Rochester to our next speech in Waverly on the Pennsylvania border was breathtaking. We followed an old glacial route that is now a formation of lakes. The rolling hills reminds one actually of... the south! The kids there were great, Mrs. Orner's class was even nice enough to sing us the Iditarod Trail song that Hobo Jim wrote. "Is he really a hobo?", one of the girls inquired after their recital. Waverly is up in the hills with gorgeous views of the valley below.

Yesterday evening we arrived at my sister Teresa's here in Conneticutt. She lives in an old revolutionary war town, Chaplin. Though it's a bit spooky around these parts the full moon has added to the flavor. Suppose I should not have gone and seen that "Haunting" movie last month. We're actually returning from Providence, Rhode Island where we just watched the new Star Trek flick. It was at an IMAX theatre-awesome! Had to laugh in the beginning when one of the head judges accused Captain Kirk of being a "Cheater"- just goes to show ya that everyone has their viewpoints in life. We all know who was in charge by the end of the movie- the one who was right.

Attending a barbeque tomorrow that my brother-in-law Greg is hosting for some folks from a theatre company which is producing the play 'Endurance'. If you don't know what it's about I suggest you google the name Sir Ernest Schackleton- one of the greatest polar explorers ever. Will be fun sharing dog stories as all of us dogmushers always enjoy doing. On to Nyack and the Henry Hudson schools on monday; may the trail ahead continue to bloom and grow. I'll leave you all with this question; Which is better? To be the wealthiest person on earth? Or the happiest? I know we've made our decision and everyone we meet seems to be leaving with smiles on their faces!
See ya soon, Hugh and Wild Bill