Friday, March 11, 2005

I REST my case ...

I just visited the Cabela's Iditarod site and found this headline report on Marty Buser ... it's quite an interesting read! Take a read and enjoy the air of this musher with a real sense of the moment ...


Day 6 on the Iditarod Trail: Buser is #3 and hot on the tail ...

The Iditarod: Seriously like REAL LIFE

Well... I've definitely got the Iditarod fever - so I'm posting more about it. And I'm fixated on watching the performance of 4-time Idit winner Martin Buser.

I always come in on the side of an under-dog, but who would have thought Marty would ever be an under-dog? But due to his hand injury - just a few days before the start of the 2005 Iditarod race - the event this man LIVES for .. had done just that.

Not even Marty was sure - right up to the gunshot start - whether Marty would compete or not. Folks that is SERIOUS stuff!

That's like imagining all the major players in the 'other sports' - you know the ones where guys and gals are paid a lot of money to play, in comfort and close proximity to saftey and help if they need it. They're the sports that the mushes in the Idit would call, 'woosie sports'; and rightly so. Well, it's like imagining they (the top seeds) ALL had to set out the season of their respective sports. Set it out WITHOUT PAY .. and without the opportunity to prove you're worthy of making any money the rest of the year.

Oh! Now it sounds a bit more serious. Doesn't it? I should hope so! This race - though today a very different race than even 10 years ago - is still one where a musher or their dogs can die on any given day of the entire race: even minutes before victory or at least a finish. This is serious. This is a lot like REAL LIFE. Maybe that's why I really enjoy this race.

March 10 2005 saw Marty come in from WAY behind to stop in Iditarod as #4 in the Race !! Woah MARTY!! And you're doing this with a severely injured hand? It's no wonder you're a multi-year winner of this Race.

This morning, March 11 2005 sees Marty on the trail with Paul Gerhart in front, but with Robert Sorlie and Martin Buser in a real RACE for 1st position. As of 09:15 AM EST on March 11 2005 - here's the Official Cabela's Iditarod Leader Board standings:

1 Paul Gebhardt
2 Robert Sørlie
3 Martin Buser
4 Aliy Zirkle
5 Ramy Brooks
6 DeeDee Jonrowe
7 Mitch Seavey
8 Jeff King
9 Ed Iten
10 John Baker
11 Tyrell Seavey
12 Gerald Sousa
13 Doug Swingley
14 Bjørnar Andersen
15 Lance Mackey

How's the young Rachael Scdoris doing ? She's currently in 61st position - remember she was in 70th position just 3 days ago - Whoa! up 9-slots ! Way to Go Rachael!! She's currently still in layover in Tokotna, 2-checkpoints out from Iditarod and 419 miles onto the trail. What a lady! This young lady is a true winner! GOOOO RACHAEL !!!!

Where's the Amazon Lady of the Iditarod .. Jessica Hendricks ? She's left Ophir making here way tod in 17th position - with 1 less dog in the team - to only 13 dogs, now - she's just 2-positions out from the Leader Board!! Amazing. She's 444 miles on the trail out of Anchorage - and breathing down the necks of every musher on the trail - and their future Iditarods! MUSH Jessica MUSH!!

I remain in AWE of these tough and knowledgable athletes - both human and dog - as they brave the bitterly harsh elements of the Alaskan wilderness. Today there is help along the way if something is SEEN to go wrong. And this is the KEY WORD .. SEEN. For if you get off the trail or have a crash in the trees - you may NOT be SEEN and therefore, you might become a statistic of the Iditarod that only OTHER people get to read.

A parting note on the care and concern given the dogs by their owners in this race. There have been, over the years, much debate on the ethicacy of even putting dogs in such a race. The argument is that the dogs are 'pushed' and 'beaten' - forced as if slaves' - to bear their mushers along the trail ONLY for the sake of winning. And this no doubt was the case in the 'early days' of the race .. for a FEW: but only a very few. For the musher knows full well that the dog IS the key element to getting from Point A to Point B safe, sound and alive. In the bush your learn very quickly that only a FOOL will knowingly put him or herself into harms way .. and that includes the dogs.

Read this piece from Kathy Buser, on their web site, talking about their dog Freedom - who 3 days ago injured her humerous - and the rapid chain-of-events that led up to her corrective surgery.

March 9 - Our team was once again mobilized and Freedom was at our own Big Lake Susitna Veterinary Hospital with Dr. Beatsle before midnight last night. She is scheduled for surgery this morning and the prognosis for a full recovery is good. As soon as Dr. Beatsle heard the news about Freedom he made plans to rendezvous with her at the clinic. Harry happened to be in town so we had a fairly quick transport time. Considering the incident happened less than 12 hours earlier in Nikolai it's pretty amazing that she will be getting treatment so soon. Dr. Beatsle will examine each dog that is dropped as they come off the trail. Anyone who has doubts about the humane treatment of Iditarod dogs might make note of such incredible care given our dogs. Thanks to the staff at the clinic for their long term commitment to our dogs.
From the web site: Happy Trails Kennels ... 03.09.05

I would also recommend you take a visit to the Happy Trails web site and review the 'awards' Marty has won in his 25 years of running the Iditarod. Yes, he's a recognized 4-time winner of the Iditarod. This tells you he was skilled and fortunate enough to be the first one to cross the finish line. It also tells you he has and cares for a magnificent team of canine athletes. When to go to this LINK you will see that Marty is ALSO a 4 -time winner of the Alaska Airlines Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian and a 4-time winner of the Gold Harness Award among many others from 1988-2004. These two awards specifically tell you want kind of man and human - this person named Martin Buser - REALLY IS. Do not worry for dogs under the care, ownership or command of Martin Buser. Also know, he not only affects the dogs he owns, but many of the dog owners across this modern-day sport of the Outoor Heritage Activity of Dog Sleding.

I would say... Dog Sledding is in Good Hands, with Martin Buser. He also has two fine mushers walking in his footsteps and making their own in his two sons, Rohn and Nicholai. The family that mushes together - keeps the Heritage alive.

Here's a link to a really nice overhead shot of Marty and his dog-team a few miles out from the Ophir checkpoint.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

2005 Iditarod : the View from Below 61.2° N

Last year my wife, Debra and I - along with our good friends, Ed and Judy Hauser, were in Anchorage, Alaska for an annual church conference meeting. When we found out that the municple of Anchorage, AK was an available choose for attendance .. we jumped at the opportunity. This was the first time in Alaska for all of us and we will all attest - Anchorage was going to be interesting - but it what was Outside that we really wanted to see!!

Ed and I have dreamed of Alaska since we were kids - and we've shared hundreds of hours of conversation on the various topics Alaska inspires in the minds of those who love the outdoors, over the past 21 years we've known each other. Our wives, too, have had a deep interest in seeing Alaska as well; for reasons different than ours. But, I also think it was partially to see what has kept us so enthralled with this, the largest state in the collection of unique landmasses called The United States of America.

Well, needless to say, we were ALL duly impressed, awed and splendidly pleased with out first visit to the Land of the Nothern Lights. How could you not in a state with, "North to the Future" as it's motto.

One of our excursions - was a planned church outing - to visit the kennels of an actual Iditarod legend: 4-time winner, Martin Buser, owner of Happy Trails Kennels, in Big Lake, AK. We again - jumped on this opportunity - eagerly! And we were not disappointed.

Matin Buser- known as Marty - is an extremely outgoing, friendly and welcoming person. He operates a handshake and a smile the same way he does his business .. with warmth, compassion and professionalism. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour of the kennels, meeting the rest of the Buser family .. which includes the amble through the dozens of dog houses - where, as Marty puts it, ".. the true athletes live." And athletes they are: in endurance, skill, determination and welcoming! Marty raises his dogs to be 'people oriented' and they show it. They LOVE you to walk up, pet, scratch and talk to them. They then warmly reciprocate. I've never enjoyed dirty paw prints so much in my life.

When we left, carrying our brochures, souvenir dog-booties and several score of digital photographs, we also left with a new-found friend. You just can't help getting the feeling that both Marty and the Iditarod were NOW close to you. They both seeped into our souls... nestling in like a sled dog into a much earned snow-bed ... and warming up against all the 'cold' we find in daily life. Amazing that a race that takes place in such ominous surroundings; dangerous conditions; and spirit grinding length and breadth .. can actually infuse a person with such a 'fire'.

But - I reckon I'm not totally amazed at this .. I've been an Iditarod-junkie since the first time I read about it long ago as child on the farm in west-central Indiana: a long way from AK and Dog racing's Greatest Race.

Yes, it may be a long way from here to there, but that does not stop the 'fire' and the 'love' I have for both the event, the athletes, the mushers ... and that mystical land they all converge on the first week in March.

Tid-bits on the 2005 Iditarod

IDITAROD 2005 Weather Conditions ON THE TRAIL ... provided by Weather Underground

You'll see the current weather THERE as you pass your cursor OVER the Check Point and ... and in most cases, you'll be glad you're where YOU ARE!! ;-)

* Southern Route -this years route - (odd years) map for current weather conditions along the trail
* Northern Route ...(even years) map of current weather conditions along the trail

These are the two sites where I'm getting all this information:

* Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and
* The Cabela's site ... again has a GREAT coverage on the race - this year !!

Just thought you might like to know how our 'buddy' Marty Buser is doing.

1. Marty is IN the race .. despite partially amputating his middle finger ( right hand) in a table saw accident on March 1!! Yikes Martin .. what were your thinkin' '!!!!???!!!!! Here's a neat Interview with Marty .. some pix, too from HAPPY TRAILS KENNELS. Here's more in-depth coverage from the Cabela's site on Marty's amputation .

NOTE: Updates on Marty and his dogs found here - Happy Trails Kennels!

2. Marty is currently holding 8th position .. (may change by the time you all read this, too!) He WAS in 5th place when he entered the McGrath checkpoint, yesterday. UPDATE 03.08.05: Just as I sent this email Marty was still resting in McGrath and has now dropped to 9th position - just ahead of Cabela's sponsored Mike King .. who is a good friend and serious competitor with Marty. I now have met them both - want to get to know them both better. I hope he [Marty] has it in him to continue to the finish line .. we know his dogs do !! That's for sure !! :-)

3. Here are Marty's 'stats' on his previous races ... pretty interesting.

4. Marty's BIO from ITSDR site ... more background on Marty for this race ... note the NAMES of dogs at the bottom of this info.. you WILL recognize a couple - if not more - name ... Cool! 8-)

5. And if you want to find out MORE on ANY MUSHER .. go here. Select from drop-down list and clik .. really interesting!

6. Hey WANNA Race Next year?? !! Here are all the forms necessary ..!! :-) 8-)

7. Here's the NOME Web Cam ... I'm assuming that from here you can WATCH the Winning Musher cross the line !!! Wicked Cool! 8-) And - they say MORE are 'coming' .. here's the list of 'other' Race Cams.

8. The IditaRider Program begun by Mike King, Cabela's sponsored musher and used by Make-A-Wish and others ... very neat write up from the Cabela's site

9. Here a truly interesting and heart-warming story... Rachael Scdoris ( Yes, the spelling is correct !!) .. legally blind, fought with Iditarod race officials for several years to allow her to race. They finally gave in - here's her story. Here's more! This young lady is not only a great musher .. she's the first real "Iditarod Babe'!! :-D 8-) :-* And here are Rachael's CURRENT STATS ... she's in 70th position .. and EVERY BIT a WINNER !!!

10. Not to mention the Mushing Female Amazon Jessica Hendricks!! This shows here latest STATS from the Cabela's site. [From the first piece, notice WHOM she beat in the Tustumena 200 Mile Race !! Jeff King .. Cabela's 'sponsor god' !!! This young lady is a musher to reckon with .. she's currently in 12th position ... and she's a ROOKIE !!!

Well .. that's only a 'sampling' of the info from both sites. INCREDIBLE!!! Technology is pretty cool .. eh? Check out the web sites at the top ... there are some amazing stories .. just from THIS YEAR .. and that is not including the Archived Years !!!

I'm printing off each day's highlights - again this year - and sending them to my brother, who is in his final 14 months of a 20 year incarceration in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Florida facilities. He is and has been an avid fan of the Iditarod as long as I have been: so, He LOVES it! And so - it seems - do a couple of his 'roomies' .. they are FROM AK!! Well, you know they have GOT to be hurting - being 'cooped' in FL !!!
ARRGHH .. I think I just found another definition for HELL !! [:o

'til next time ,


Monday, March 07, 2005

Should Wisconsin Allow Feral Cat Season?

Should Wisconsin Allow Feral Cat Season?

Updated: 4:41 PM Mar 7, 2005

by ... Zac Schultz

Dane County: What is the best way to deal with the feral cat problem in Wisconsin? That's a question being asked of animal lovers, wildlife ecologists, and now hunters.

The Conservation Congress is considering a proposal to hunt wild cats.

A group called Friends of Ferals is working with the Dane County Humane Society to take care of them until they have a new home. 'Last year we got six hundred out of the wild brought them in here, spay/neutered them and released them back into the wild,' says The Humane Society's Tracy Earll.

The captured cats are just the tip of the feral iceberg. UW Wildlife Ecology Professor Stanley Temple says his 1995 study conservatively estimates there are 1.4 million feral cats in Wisconsin. And those cats kill and eat a lot of other animals.
'So 1.4 million cats times 28 kills a year and 20% of those kills being birds adds up to at least, and I'll emphasize at least 7.8 million birds that are killed by free ranging cats a year. That's an alarming number,' says Temple."


Look - I like cats as well as the next person. Kittens are one of the cutest little animals going ... but a cat is a cold-blooded, calculating killer; an incredibly effecient predator. To knowing unleash hundreds of such predators on the natural world is not only STUPID .. it is unconscionable!!!

There is absolutely no sense whatsoever in turning cats loose - on the wild - that are only here because of abused and over-populated domiciled felines, turned loose, due to human neglagence. So, those who are 'soft' on the cats, make a decision to waste the birds, rodents, reptiles, amphibians and insects of the natural ecosystem - just to keep alive cats who are NOT a part of that ecosystem: and never were ?

Now that these - 'Friends of the Ferals' - have taken upon themselves to unleash this menace upon the Wisconsin ecosystem, someone else has to come in and clean up the mess. The whole thing could have been totally avoided by destroying the feral cats when caught the first time around. But of course that makes way too much sense .. right? And of course it's not a 'politically correct' action in these days when far too many humans operate on 'human emotion' when making decisions that are purely biologically oriented. These two ideologies are NOT inclusive and never will. Human emotion is NOT related to the life and death struggle of the natural world of animals. When it is brought into the mix - mistakes become the prolific norm.

This action is a clear example of someone having NO IDEA of what Outdoor Heritage is about. Ignorance - regardless of where it comes from - is destructive.

Let's get it straight. The RESOURCE ... that is the NATURAL RESOURCE ... is what needs to be protected, conserved and as need be - restored. The RESOURCE for any given ecosystem is determined by the native plants, animals and other biota that existed there, BEFORE man came into its scene. This includes our importations of plants and animals from outside the ecosystem.

So, no matter how 'cute', 'cuddly' or 'deserving' we may think a creature is - if it is NOT part of the ORIGINAL building block of the ecosystem in question ... GET RID OF IT. AVOIT IT. KILL IT. DO NOT put it - or ALLOW IT - into the ecosystem. It DOES NOT BELONG and will do more damage to the ecosystem than any good we 'emotionally driven humans' might imagine.

It is imperative that we understand, humans are NOT the 'creators' of the ecosystems or environment. We are only co-habitants along with the rest of the resource. We do have the ability to be either 'caretaker' or 'undertaker'. One does NOT mutually condone the other; they are mutually exclusive! Our staying out of the way of nature, does NOT afford the luxery of 'insertions'; even those many of us have come to love, appreciate and depend upon for our outdoor enjoyment. The Bottom Line on ecosystem longevity and sustainability is simple, "... if it [a life form] is NOT a part [of an ecosystem] by natural development, it does not belong and should not be infused and should be restrained at all costs."

One of the most important parts of understanding the meaning of Outdoor Heritage, is the understanding and appreciation for the ability of the natural system to keep and maintain it's on integrity... without man's intervention. We humans will do much more good if we Stop-Look-and Listen ... something we used to be taught for our own saftey and protection - as children crossing roadways ... to what nature is doing in its normal patterns. The moment we begin forging nature into what satisfies our wants - nature begins to be altered - unnaturally. And the results have shown themselves to be disasterous for all -- to nature and mankind.