Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pre Race Interview

Here are some excerpts from a recent interview conducted by the racing committee for the Iditarod.

Iditarod: Today, there are mushers, who are relatively new to the sport. To make sure, they at least have some experience, it is asked that they finish a minimum of 750 miles of racing, of which 2 of those races have to be 300 miles in lengths. Another good idea, is the requirement that they have to be in the top 75% of the field in their qualification race, thus ensuring a certain level of competitiveness. This is your first Iditarod entry. What is your previous sledding experience?

Diablo: Once I slid around the corner of the kitchen trying to get to the TUNA bowl before Phoenix. It wasn’t a pretty crash and burn. But I won! As far as the lengths of the race, I’ve traveled to Hawaii from New York. How long is that?  And I traveled from New York to London and back. How far is that?

Iditarod: You will be up against experienced mushers from around the world. You are a true rookie. How do you expect to be competitive?

Diablo: The Woofie Monster was born to run. And my sled is tiny. He’ll be pulling an eight pound cat.  Do the math. Besides, we aren’t from Jamaica.

Iditarod: We do have a musher from Jamaica.

Diablo: I guess I made my case.

Iditarod: Um, well. Yes, where exactly are you from?

Diablo: Woofie Monster is from his mama’s dog and I’m from my mama’s cat.

Iditarod: I don’t think you understood my question.

Diablo: I don’t think you understood my answer.

Iditarod: Okay, this is a 1000 mile race, across some very isolated, barren and cold terrain. How have you prepared to survive the ordeal?  

Diablo: First, the dog has no idea how long this trek is. Please don’t tell him. He thinks this will be a romp in a Chicago Dog Park.  We have air support being provided by two expert flyers: @bicdelou and @Rio_Conure who will air drop treats provided by @Mariam Kobras.

Iditarod: Aren’t these Twitter accounts?

Diablo: Your point?  I’m a Twitter Cat with a dog borrowed from a Twitter friend @rosieandcheeto.

Iditarod:  Most mushers have sponsor support.  Do you have any big name sponsors?

Diablo: Have you ever pulled a Band-aid off your hairy arm? I’m not wearing stickers on my fur. Besides, do I look like a race car?  But seriously, I have over 5800 followers on Twitter rooting for me and the Woofie Monster.  Go team.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

False Start

Holy Crap. This is not the way to begin a long and brutal excursion to Alaska!  I admit I was trying to keep the load light, but I underappreciated the dog’s need for his toys.  Hey, I like toys just as much as the next cat, or dog. My favorite is my fuzzy orange carrot with the feathery foliage (I have at least a half a dozen of them), but you never saw me dragging them to the royal wedding. Okay, let me back up. I see some of you saying, “huh?

Since the last time I was in Chicago my good friend Cheeto (of the @rosieandcheeto Twitter fame) has endured many huge changes in his cat life.  First the Lady got married. Then there was a baby added to the mix. The family moved to a new locale. And the stupid dog isn’t getting any mellower with age. All this has been very stressful. So to help reduce some of the load my poor friend has to endure, I agreed to take the dog for a long, long walk.  To Nome.

The dog is a huskie named Rockford, but we know him as the Woofie Monster, because he woofs and woofs are totally annoying to cats. He has a lifetime dream of running the Iditarod. I am going to oblige him. I strolled into Chicago this past weekend, thankful I missed the huge snow in the northeast, but thinking all that snow would make an excellent base for a dog sled run. There have been rumors that the Iditarod was cancelled because of lack of snow in Alaska, but that was just rumor.

I have never before traveled with a companion, let alone a dog.  I’ve had to forewarn the Yard Cats of his coming, so they don’t freak out when we show up in the railroad yards to take the train to Seattle.  Except, well, I never got that far.

After a few cans of refreshing tuna juice and a little nip to take Chicago’s gun free zone edge off I had a good night’s sleep at Cheeto’s new digs, which are very nice.  With the Iditarod’s start date less than three weeks away, I was eager to head out to the railroad yards the next morning.  The Woofie Monster and I haven’t even “practiced” this sled thing yet.  He claims it is in his blood, but the dog has been city living all his young life.  We need time to prepare for all day sled pulling, living in the dark, surviving severe weather and sleeping outside in extreme temperatures for three weeks during the race.  He has never even slept outside of his stupid little cage-thingy.

Apparently, the dog has attachment issues. It must be a pack thing. While he had no problem with the idea of taking off for the wild blue yonder in the Land of the Midnight Sun, but he whined like a stupid puppy when I told him he had to leave his stupid stuffed toys in Chicago.  You can’t carry a lot of accouterments when jumping trains. They get in the way and they could very well get stolen. Not all train jumpers live by The Code, especially the two legged kind.

We were headed to the yard when the dog whirled and took off down the street. Running full tilt. Man he can run, but the commands “heel” and “no” faze him just as much as it fazes me…nada. But then I’m a cat.  What excuse does he have?  Well, I never thought I’d see him again.  I wasn’t sure how I would to break this news to Cheeto.  I should not have been surprised when he said he didn’t mind as long as the dog didn’t come back to his house.  We had a good laugh over that.

photo by Jeff Schultz
But the dog did go back to the house. Apparently,  to retrieve one of his chew toys…the hedgehog. He showed up this morning, licking my face. UGH. He still wants to go to Alaska. So I guess I am off to run the Iditarod with a huskie named Rockford and his hedgehog. Better to have the dog chew on his toy than me, I guess.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Legend is Coming

I’ve been reading the interesting and in-depth biographies on the sixty nine competitors participating in this year’s Iditarod. In case you are not up to speed on the dog sledding circuit, the Iditarod is the annual dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome. Done in February.  Brrr. As a race it started in 1973 and the Goddess saw the beginning to this historic race when she was in the Army stationed at Ft. Richardson, AK. WOW, huh? But it's roots are of legends, gold mines and miners, medicine and the mighty husky.  Of the participants all are worthy of the race, but only a handful have any of a true survival travel experience that I have.  Argue all you want. This is MY blog. I’d say that the mushers from Norway and Russia and even Canada qualify and the guys from Jamaica and Brazil.  But seriously, Jamaica?  Is this on par with the county fielding a bobsled team in the winter Olympics?  There are also twelve rookies in this year’s Last Great Race.

I noticed there are no other cats entered. A real marketing loss if you ask me. I am the only brown tabby to participate. Can you imagine the media coverage if more cats were entered?  So I present here my official race bio.  I am sure it will never be posted on the official Iditarod website.

I have a dog. 

That's it! What did you expect? My race theory is "Keep it simple stupid." Travel light and travel fast. Seriously, you didn’t think I've ever been on a dog sled in the past, did you?  I never let details get in my way.

Speaking of traveling fast and light, I zoomed across Lake Erie and landed in Canada. The lake is not frozen solid so I navigated the perimeter to Canada. As I suspected the traveling was much easier on the less populated northern shore of the Great Lake.  I didn’t have a passport but I did have my microchip, but nobody was paying attention to a cat trot across the semi-frozen lake.  No problem reentering the US either.  If you look like you’re on rat patrol and make yourself look semi-employed in stalking ugliness, the border guards pay you no mind. Which is why we can be so abused: cat was used in smuggling drugs into a prison.

Nothing brings out the realities of travel hazards like Detroit. Fortunately, I have been following CityMoleDetroit on Twitter to get the latest updates on traffic and buzz about the city.  But why am I worried about accidents on the interstates? I am cutting through vacant lots, abandoned buildings, and railroad yards.  By the way, those yard cats are as feisty as ever.

I’ll beeline across the palm of Michigan and that puts me in Ann Arbor.  Sigh. Last time I was in this neck of the woods, I ended up in prison. Remember that? I try to keep that off my bio.