5. Arkansas sled dog stories (Surfing)

Arkansas sled dog stories: Surfing the Everglades

Today is one of those days when my sleeve cuffs catch on the computer keyboard keys, where the door to the camper won’t stay open and slams shut against me in the wind. You know the kind of day, where you simply have to grit your teeth and put your head down and focus on Forward Movement if you want to get anything accomplished at all!

I don’t know if you had told me 5 years ago that I would be out in the rice fields in Arkansas today…on this particular day… in the snow and in the cold…if I would have believed you. Nonetheless, here we are today, anyway.

I decided last night that I would run a three dog team on the bike today. It had snowed.

Up at 7 AM, we are off to the training area. The road looks fine on the way out, but as I turn off on the gravel to our run destination there is drifted snow across the road. Hmmmm, I think. Might be interesting with three dogs pulling me on the bike – (my little Huffy $34.88 Wal-Mart 20 inch kids bike…a real serious dog training bike, folks…ha ha).

Will the bike be too squirrely? I wonder.

I park at our stopping area. Get the dog out of the camper (with the camper door slamming shut against my body in the wind as I get in and out) and line the dogs out.  The wind is blowing aabout 10 or 15 miles an hour.  It must be 10 degrees out.  I put on my insulated coveralls, tie my sweatshirt hood over my head, put on the leather gloves and put my wool mittens in my pockets.  The dogs all poop and I busy myself getting the bike hooked up to the quick-release and set the lines out in the snow. Still wonder if I am going to get killed… will somebody find me in a couple of days…my frozen body… prostrate there on the road…

Then we are off. Pine and Tanni at lead and Cash bringing up the rear.  And me holding on to the bike. I can’t pedal now(see Arkansas Sled Dog Stories: Those Huffy Moments…I still have not made the final trek to the bike shop); I only have one pedal.  The handlebars are slightly askew.  But there we go off down the road through the snowdrifts.  Surfing the Everglades.  Running the underwater marathon to Atlantis.

After about a mile, the dogs make the haw turn at the first intersection and we continue on. They run on the right side in the snow and I try to keep the bike on what gravel there is in the middle of the road. At least I have some firm ground to roll on there. We make the gee turn on to the irrigation road and I have to stop and put my mittens on over my gloves. The wind is really whipping up now and my hands are starting to get fairly cold. We head north another mile on this road and come to the haw turn where we head east on a dirt road. Pine doesn’t recognize this turn as it is snowed over, but she sees it after I turn the bike that way, and we head on in the snowdrifts. The bike gets a little squirrely here where the snow is piled up, but we head on to the turnaround without incident. We get turned around and head back. Tanni hadn’t been out at all; this was her first run of the season so she is biting snow off to the side. It is also Cash’s first run, but he is doing very well. Pine looks great.

As we make the gee turn from the dirt road back on to the irrigation road it starts snowing. The wind blows the snow horizontally right into my face.  That snow stings, and I have to close my eyes almost shut so I can see. The tiny snowflakes are like little needles on my face.

We finally get to the haw turn which gets us back on the main county road. At least now my face is out of the wind, and I can open my eyes and see what I am doing. We complete the half mile section to the gee turn. Our normal route continues on through this intersection, but I decide it is too cold to try to make it another three miles without some better gloves, so we turn and head back to the truck. A group of birds flies along on the road ahead of us and Pine chases them for a while.

Back to the truck. COLD COLD hands. I put Tanni and Cash back in their boxes in the camper. Pine lays down on the ground. She has had such a good time.

And we made it…again! Another “Arkansas rice field sled dog experience.” This time a “bicycle-in-the snow sled dog experience.” Surfing the Everglades. And why not?  Life is the sweetest when you are happy doing what you love.

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