Cruise to Alaska - Day Eight - Seward

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We are both so excited about our day today. We’re going to visit an Iditarod racer’s dog sled camp. We not only get to learn about the race, the dogs they raise, visit (and hold) puppies but we get to take a ride.

Okay, so it’s not in a sled. Remember….it’s summer here. That said, it’s not all that warm. I layered up with long underwear, my big scarf, fleece vest and a heavy jacket. Oh, and gloves. LOL!

We visited the Seavey’s Dog Sled Camp where they first told us about the history of the camp. For those who don’t know (and that’s probably most of you), Mitch Seavey was the 2004 Iditarod champion. His son, our guide, told us this was his 12th year trying. They announced him as an 11 year loser….LOL! Seems as though the first generation came and never left, although our guide told us his grandmother still seems to think they are going back south someday. Three generations of mushers….

Next we were split into groups…half went to see the puppies first and the other half to take their ride. We were in the first ride group…yippee!

The dogs aren’t the gorgeous Alaskan/Siberian huskies nor the the fully Malamutes. These dogs are raised specifically for racing, not for pulling weight. Over the years they have worked to develop fast, lean dogs with lots of stamina.

So not only weren’t they the pulling dogs we pictured, they were a blend of many breeds…the only commonality was having a double coat. It was that double coat shedding that gave us the impression of “manginess”.

We got into the sled and I managed to snag the front row. We watched as they started hooking up the dogs. As soon as the dogs realized that the sleds were loading, the barks & howls started. They all got more and more excited…you could almost hear the, “Pick me, pick me!” in their tones.

We took a fun 2 mile ride with plenty of stops to rest the dogs. Not that they were tired but since it was summer (especially to them), they could easily dehydrate. It was really funny to hear the dogs take up vocally when another sled ride passed up by during a break. They did NOT like being passed…LOL!

Before we knew it the ride was over and we were back at the camp and it was puppy time. They had one litter of nine. The mom was more than happy to share the puppies with us. Not sure anyone wanted to hand them back…who doesn’t love snuggly little puppies.

I snapped a few shots of them playing…they are only 3 weeks old and just adorable. I watched while one tried to get back in with mom and his sibling pulled him out by the tail. LOL!

Next came a talk by another musher. All the mushers also race and they come in all sizes and sexes. We saw the gear they used. We learned how the races were run, how the dogs were handled, what happened if a dog got hurt or sick and much more.

During the cruise there were at least three opportunities to visit a dog sled camp….we think we got the best tour and would do it again.

We got back to the town of Seward in time for lunch at Nellie’s Roadhouse. They were packed but we managed to snag window bar-style seats. The service and food were both good…not cheap, this is Alaska, but enjoyable. From there we walked the downtown on both sides, visited shops, tried on silly hats, bought a few gifts & mementos and then headed to the bus stop for the ride back to the ship.

We managed to get off the bus a couple of stops too soon, thanks to me…oops, but it worked out well. We found a nice little micro-brew restaurant on the water, Chinooks. Time to try a couple of local beers. Yum!!

From there we continued to walk back to the ship..it was further than we thought be we knew we needed to walk as much as possible. We’d been eating WAY too much lately…LOL!

Back at the ship we relaxed in the front viewing lounge before a late dinner with some great conversation with our table-mates. Life is good!

Check out all the photos and two fun videos of the dogs getting excited as they were hooked up as well as being pulled by the dogs (ignore the tilting at the end...we didn't tip over, it was an operator error....LOL!): Alaska - Day Eight - Seward

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna and Stu

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