Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More Pictures from Lance Mackey Weekend

Lance Mackey sits in the main tent listening to questions and telling stories from the trail

Mushers love to eat!

An intimate afternoon talking dog

Fielding questions

Everything is damp. My hair, my clothes, even the paper from the map I used to get here. People stand around talking about the weather.

“I thought we were done, but I heard it’s supposed to be in the 70s this week,” says Sherry.

Joann and Larry Fortier and I stand in the main tent in baseball hats, talking about poop like first basemen talking about catching flyballs. It’s all part of the game. Crickets call long songs from the fern and lichten surrounding.

There’s no drying out. The wind stirs and I am thankful, hopeful, for the chance at possibly drying out, but the air is too saturated. There’s nowhere left for it to go. Coyotes yip and bark in the distance.

I spend some time talking with Lance about the quality of the protein/fat ratio of dog food, foot ointment, essential fatty acids and glucosamine. It's a bit disorienting when I catch myself in moments looking at his blue eyes and saying to myself, "that's Lance Mackey." But he is so real and tangible, so easy to talk to and open, the feelings of awe soon slip away. He is just like us, at home sitting in a tent in the rain eating hot dogs and talking dogs. We talk dogs like mechanics talk shop.

Later on, he talks more about surviving throat cancer and all he's accomplished since that diagnosis. He says, "I wouldn't be disappointed at all if it all ended today," speaking like a man with a deep sense of satisfaction about his life's vocation.

Mackey won the 2008 Yukon Quest Veterinarian's Choice Award last year. He said he would rather come in "dead last" and win the Humanitarian Award. "That means more to me to have my team look good. Every dog that makes it to the finish line deserves to be on the front page of the paper, in my opinion."

When I am here with all of these good people, I am home. I am myself and honored and respected for exactly who I am, how I am. I feel so honored to be here, and blessed to be doing exactly what I love to do: talking dogs, writing and living the dream.

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