I live in the type of place where I can post on Facebook, “Anyone have dogsledding connections? I need it for book research,” and the next day I get a message from a friend saying, “I can get you a ride!” (Al, you’re the best!)
I know, I’m spoiled.
So yesterday I went on my first all-day dogsled ride to Granite hot-springs out in the wilderness. Hubby came too.
What I expected to happen:
1. We meet up at the start of some trail where a sled will be hooked up to a string of fluffy, Siberian Husky dogs.
2. Daylen and I climb in, side by side, in a sled — all warm and snuggly and ready for a great ride — and the tour guide says something akin to “Mush!” (Though I know it’s not “mush!” because only Hollywood uses that.)
3. We ride through the forest as I take pictures, notes in my idea book (because, of course, the dogsled will ride so smoothly that my handwriting will still remain normal.)
4. We arrive at the hot springs, which I imagined as some sort of restaurant-hotel built around a steaming pool of lava-heated water.
5. As I sit at my wicker table (after a nice dip in the hot spring) someone serves a cheap bowl of soup for lunch (probably in a waxy-paper to-go bowl.)
6. We hop back into the sleds and ride back.
7. Farewell Huskies!
What really happened:
“Welcome to Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Tours!” — insert long intro filled with juicy info about dogsledding that I scratched into my idea book like a madwoman — “Okay, Nadine, Daylen, follow that guy out to the sleds.”
And then there’s the sled. Wait…there are four sleds and only two guides. I’m confused…
“This one’ll be yours.” Al, our guide pointed to the sled in the back. “You can decide who you want driving it and who you want riding in it.”
What my brain said: Wait…YOU’RE NOT EVEN COMING ON OUR SLED?!?!
What my mouth said: “Oh, okay.” Look at Daylen. Daylen shrugs with a you-are-the-author-who-wants-the-experience grin. Gulp. “I’ll drive first.”
After some mushing commands, some dog intros, some warnings about flying off the back of the sled at the take-off (“Excuse me?!”), I hopped on, pressing down the brake with all my weight. And then, with a very un-Hollywoodish, “Alright, hike!” we took off.
I was an official musher.
No, I didn’t fall off the back. And yes, I want to do it again.
I spent over an hour and a half on the back of that sled, watching the lead dogs and learning the ins and outs of sledding. My team of dogs weren’t the usual type you’d expect — most were Alaskan huskies (which are basically an all-muscle shorter-haired mutt that does great in the cold wilderness) and we even had a labrador named Gumbo (shh…don’t tell him he’s a lab. He’s touchy.)
I did get my chance inside the sled and, despite the lack of snuggle-with-the-hubby (he took over driving, as all manly men do), I got to relax in the 50 degree winter weather, watching the giant moose go by (yes, we saw a giant moose. No, the dogs did not try to eat it.), and taking notes in my idea book. It was a little too bumpy to write, but I made it work. (How could I not? Who gets to write stories while riding in a dogsled through the forest?)
We arrived at the hot springs which were (as you probably expected) outdoors. No restaurant, no hotel, no shower rooms, BUT…there was an outhouse! Hurray! 😉
Needless to say, it was beautiful, warm, and the perfect destination after a long sled ride before starting the trip back. It’s much more fun swimming in a hot spring under the blue sky than under some hotel ceiling.
Afterward, our served meal was much more elaborate than a to-go cup of soup. The tour guides started with hot cider and hot cocoa, then served Brie baked in tinfoil on a grill with apples and crackers and huckleberry truffles followed up with homemade chicken stew in a bread bowl.
While chatting and eating, Daylen and I discovered that almost all the people sledding with us were fellow believers! And suddenly the dogsled tour turned into a super-fellowship, chatting about ministry and Christ, completely rejuvenating us spiritually.
This trip was exactly what I needed. Why? Because I’ve been trudging through a bout of “I’m-An-Awful-Writer” and blaming it on “writer’s block” (which I don’t believe actually exists.) And I finally took the advice of J. K. Rowling:
There’s nothing like real-life to inspire you to live deeper, write harder, and pursue God with more passion. Yesterday, I got another dose of life — of exciting adventure-filled life — and God completely surpassed my expectations by immersing me in His creation.
Now…I’m ready to write again.
What are ways that you find rejuvenation from the every-day life?
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