Well, it's Friday, and between you and I, Company, I am taking a half day off work. I feel a little bit guilty because, quite frankly, I have been burning through my vacation time at a staggering rate, a half day at a time here during the winter and so I won't have any left for when the weather turns nice. Oh well, I suppose it could be worse.
Anyway, the reason that I am taking a little time off is because I am going to my favorite event of the winter, the friendly local dogsled race. See, it's a fantastic time. The city takes all the snow that they have spent tens of thousands of dollars and the better part of the winter removing from the downtown streets and they truck it back downtown and dump it on the street, so the dogsled race can begin right in the middle of the central business district. How fantastic is that?
Really, I love it because it is like a wintertime street fair but with dogs. There is incessant barking all around - it's the noise of a hundred dogs who want to do nothing but run but who are being held back - and there are tons of people milling about. The TV station is around, with some friendly local anchors announcing the start. I just can't explain it, it's a sight to behold and something that you can't really experience anywhere else.
We always start at the bottom of the hill by the curve. See, the neat thing about the course is that it starts downtown, goes down the main street, then goes down a hill at the bottom of which is a ninety degree right hand turn. Back in the day it used to be a true right hander, a real ninety degrees, and with the dogs a little anxious and the effects of the hill, there would always be a musher or two who would take the corner a little close and end up on his side, getting pulled behind his sled and his overeager dogs. It was great. In years past they have widened out the curve a bit, and so now we just wait to see if someone clunks one of the 55-gallon drums that line the course. So that is prime location and that's why we always start at the curve.
Later we will make our way up the hill, and stroll past the shops kept open late, and watch the dogs and sleds as they take off. It's neat. The dogs are there straining at the ropes. The friendly TV anchors are prattling away over a loudspeaker. The musher is digging in with everything: his boots, his break, his dragline. There are about five other people helping to hold the sled back. Then, when the buzzer sounds and the clock starts ticking, and everyone lets go of their ropes, the dogs are out of there like a shot, and they are happy as happy can be to be on their way. It's really neat.
That all happens on Friday. The race ends on Sunday, not far from where it starts, but there is rarely a crowd waiting at the finish. Because of the staggered start and the nature of a dogsled race, the mushers and their crews sort of come in far apart. That is probably my biggest regret about the race: that the mushers who work so hard to finish are greeted with basically silence. Such is like I suppose. We really give them a good show.
So that is where I will be Friday, and you will have to bear with me if I miss Saturday or maybe Sunday. I will be out celebrating winter with hundreds of other people. So enjoy the weekend. I know I will be.