Westward Ho

Location: Lander, Wyoming, United States

I'm just a western boy living the good life and enjoying every minute of it.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Guilty Pleasure

Ok, I'm one of those people that think the majority of the reality tv shows out there are complete crap. I marvel at some of the idiotic new reality shows that make it to the big time. But I tell you what, I am absolutely addicted to one of them...The Amazing Race. For the most part, there's not that catty, back-stabbing B.S. that you see in most reality shows. Basically, teams of 2 compete by racing from pit stop to pit stop, through many different countries. Why I like this show: (1) it actually takes brains to figure out the fastest way to complete a task or how to get directions from a foreigner to someplace the average American could barely pronounce; (2) often times they have to complete tasks that make people face their fears, so it's fun to watch people overcome and accomplish; (3) most of the places the teams race through are places I will never get to visit, so I enjoy learning about these places. The last season of The Amazing Race ended about 3 weeks ago. As a surprise, they decided to run back-to-back seasons. The new one starts tomorrow. I'm way excited!

Friday, February 25, 2005

Quiz Time

This little brainteaser was brought to my attention by a coworker this morning. WITHOUT the use of a map, what are the 9 states in the USA that only use four different letters in their name? I'll throw in the most obvious one: Mississippi. Feel free to leave a comment when you figure out the other eight.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

One Must Pick Carefully

No, I'm not talking about one's nose. Although the same is true for nose picking. We got an email from our office manager yesterday, telling us that it's time to start choosing our offices at the new building. We are scheduled to move up there in late June. The pick order was determined by length of service with the agency in Lander (seniority). I am #30 out of 35 (ouch). Out of 35 offices, there are 21 with small windows along the perimeter of the building. There are offices which are tucked away in corners, offices adjacent to the bathrooms, next to the breakroom, in the middle by the conference rooms and next to the big, glass doors. Generally, most of the offices are about the same size, with full walls, ceiling and door. So it appears that location will be one of the deciding factors when it comes time for me to choose. Although I am near the bottom of the list, I do have one advantage. I get to choose who I DON'T want to be near. True, I will only have 5 offices to choose from, but that gives me the opportunity to put myself furthest from the most annoying people who have already picked ahead of me. Not a bad position to be in really. Although my new office neighbors may disagree when they see me park my butt next to them. But that's their problem for having a higher seniority. Stay tuned to find out the results.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Wolf track, taken near the previous picture on the East Fork Wind River (Oct. 2004) Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Overwhelming Support

I would just like to thank my family and friends for the overwhelming support I've received from them during my current medical issue. It is really nice to know who steps up to the plate and offers their support during a rough time. I hate being the center of attention, so I hate the position I'm in. Hopefully, it will be good news with nothing further to worry about. Thanks again to everyone. I very much appreciate it.

Friday, February 11, 2005

I just learned how to post pictures on my blog, so I thought I would post my favorite picture from last year's field season. This is the East Fork Wind River north of Dubois, Wyoming. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Racin' Doggies

This past Sunday, Lander hosted the second stage of the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race (IPSSSDR). As I learned recently, the IPSSSDR is the second largest sled dog race in the United States, behind the Iditarod in Alaska. Therefore, this race gets many of the big-time racers who also enter the Iditarod. The Lander leg consists of 54 miles over a mountain range and back. I had never been to any kind of sled dog race, so I wanted to experience it. Melissa had been to the Iditarod during her time in Anchorage, so she brought me up to speed.

When we got up to the mountain, the closest parking spot we found was about a quarter mile away. As soon as we opened the door, the air was filled with the sounds of yipping and yapping dogs. Walking past the trailers and trucks that sled dog racers use to haul their dogs, we could see why there was so much barking. These dogs were ready to go! It was all the racers and race volunteers could do to keep the brakes on these dogs so they wouldn't take off up the hill. The race teams departed every three minutes apart. As soon as one team left, they would bring in the next team. As the team approached the starting line, they had to use special brakes (big metal claws that dig into the snow) to keep the dogs from taking off too early. Then, the racers spent the next couple minutes untangling the dogs from their harnesses (because they were so excited they kept jumping around) and giving attention to each dog on the team. With 10 seconds to go, the race director, using a bullhorn to get his voice above the barking of the dogs, would lead the spectators in a countdown. When the count hit 0, the brakes would come up and the dogs would take off with a speed rarely seen out of a normal animal. It was an incredible sight. These dogs live for this. You can see it in their eyes, in the way they hop around anxiously prior to sprinting off the line.

We went back to town, then returned a couple hours later to watch the teams come back in to the finish. Racers leave the start line in the opposite order that they finished the leg before. So, the team who finished first the previous leg, starts last the next leg. The racer who started the Lander leg last (finished the previous leg first) ended up passing 9 or 10 of the 19 teams, so he added some considerable time to his lead. He was given a hearty cheer, and the race director yelled at him as he crossed the finish, "Welcome to Lander!" The racer is from Argentina, so a little welcome was in order. As the teams crossed the finish line, they would come to a stop to get assistance from the race volunteers as they made their way to their trailers. While stopped, it was fun to watch the dogs, who frequently rolled in the snow to cool themselves down.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience, and I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to attend a sled dog race. It will give you a new appreciation for the dogs who participate in these events. After the race and being inspired by the incredible dogs, we took Gunner for a walk. He was tired after less than a mile. A sled dog he will never make.