PuppyCam Returns To Denali National Park

PuppyCam lets us look in on the Denali sled dog pups
National Park Service

One of the annual rites of spring in Denali National Park is the welcoming of a new litter of sled dog pups to the official kennels there. This is soon followed by the launch of the park’s PuppyCam, which not only provides a daily dose of cute, but also allows us to watch the new pups as they begin to grow.

This year’s litter consists of three puppies born to a 6-year-old female named Sultana. She was also born and raised in the Denali kennels and has proven herself to be a strong lead dog and good mother over the years. The father is a dog named Typhoon who belongs to another kennel in nearby Eagle, Alaska. He is said to be an incredible lead dog as well, and some of his traits will hopefully be passed along to his new offspring. The pups, two males and one female, are named Munter, Prusik and Clove, and while they are just a month old today, they are beginning to display their own unique personalities.

Sled dogs are vitally important to operations at Denali NP. Without them the rangers would not be able to patrol the park during the long winter months when traveling by car can be very difficult, if not impossible. In order to keep their dog teams strong and replenished, each year one of the females is allowed to have a litter and the new pups are raised from birth to work as part of the park’s sled dog team. They might not look like it now, but in a few years, Munter, Prusik and Clove may well take their place as part of the proud tradition of the Denali sled dogs.

For now, we’ll just get to enjoy watching them romp around the kennel with mom. Check out the Denali PuppyCam here.

Denali National Park Introduces New Sled Dog Pups

Denali National Park Sled Dog PupsOne of the great annual traditions at Denali National Park is the arrival of a new litter of sled dog pups. The park, which is located in Alaska‘s spectacular and remote wilderness, maintains its own sled dog team for use in patrolling the region throughout the long winter months. Without these teams much of Denali would not be accessible for portions of the year, which makes these trusty canines an important part of the park service team.

In order to maintain a strong and healthy sled dog team the onsite kennel breeds a single female each year. This year that lucky mom is a dog named Sultana, who gave birth to three pups a few weeks back. The names of those new pups hasn’t been announced yet, but they have been introduced to the world via the kennel’s live webcam.

When breeding huskies to be a part of the Denali sled dog team, the kennel is looking for strong dogs with long legs that can easily break trail in deep snow. They also prefer compact paws that can resist the build-up of snow and ice, as well as thick coats and puffy tails to keep the dogs warm in the Alaskan winters. It is too early yet to know if these new pups will exhibit all of those traits but considering their parents were hand picked it is likely they’ll join the team sometime in the future.

For now, the pups will stay in the kennel, and on webcam, until they are old enough to start their training. That means that throughout the summer we’ll be able to watch them grow up before our very eyes. Stop back whenever you need a quick dose of cute.

[Photo courtesy Denali National Park Facebook Page]

10 unique modes of transportation around the world

chicken busCars, trains, buses, and planes aren’t the only way to get around a country. From the Bamboo Train in Cambodia to the Rail Cart in the the Philippines to the Couch Bike in Canada, here are ten unique modes of transportation from around the world.

Chicken Bus
Guatemala, Central America

While variations of the chicken bus can be found in many different countries (this reminds me a lot of taking the tro-tro in Ghana, Africa), this vehicle is used not only to transport people but also livestock, hence the name. These U.S. school buses are very eye-catching as they are colorfully painted and decorated. When taking one expect cramped conditions, as chicken buses tend to be packed to capacity, and hectic driving at Nascar speeds.Sled Dogs
Alaska, USA

Sled dogs are highly trained dogs that are used to pull a dog sled, which is a vehicle without wheels that glides over snow and ice. If you need a mental image, think Santa being pulled by reindeer, only you’re not flying and there are dogs instead of deer. Endurance and speed are the two main qualities that sled dogs must possess, and this transportation type has become a popular winter sport in other countries around the world such as Japan and Germany.

human powered rickshawHuman Powered Rickshaws
Kyoto, Japan

While urbanization across Asia has mostly done away with this traditional form of transportation, you can still find them used in certain areas where cars are not accessible in Kyoto, Japan, as well as in some parts of India. According to Kelvin Lim of BootsnAll, many rickshaw “drivers” wear a special foot-glove that helps them travel through various types of terrain without slipping.

Elephant
India and Asia

In India and many places in South East Asia, an elephant is not only an animal but also a mode of transport. When I was Vietnam I actually went on an elephant ride with a local school owner named Roy who explained to me that “in many Asian countries we use animals to help with labor”. While once used to carry the wealthy around, today exploring a country on the back of an elephant is a big tourist attraction.

habal habal Habal Habal
Philippines, Asia

The Habal Habal is a unique motorcycle that can seat many people. The simpler versions seat 4-5 people, with a seat that extends over the back wheel, while the more complex type of Habal Habal can seat up to thirteen people and their luggage with the addition of wooden planks acting as benches.

Rail Cart
Philippines, Southeast Asia

The rail cart is most commonly found in the Philippines and is literally a cart that is pulled along rail tracks by a person, people, or a horse. The special wheels on the cart allow for quick transport but, unfortunately, are not always fast enough to get out of the way of the real trains that also use the tracks.

reed boatsReed Boat
Lake Titicana, Peru

Lake Titicana stretches across the countries of Peru and Bolivia and is home to many floating villages around Southern Peru. These villages are inhabited by the Uro people, who use natural resources, like reed, to construct homes and boats. The boats are light but resiliant and, built in the shape of a dragon, are said to have been used by the anicent Incas to ward off evil spirits.

Camel Back
Jordan, Middle East

While there are many places where camel rides are popular, one way to try out this transport option for yourself is by trekking through the beautiful rose colored deserts of Wadi Rum in Jordan. Cairo, Dubai, Mongolia, Morocco, and many deserts in India are also known for being camel riding hotspots.

couch bikeCouch Bike
Canada

When I found this highly unusual mode of transportation, I was kind of expecting it to be from America. The Couch Bike, which is literally a couch that you pedal like a bike, pokes fun at sedentary culture while providing an eco-friendly alternative to driving. Just make sure you know the traffic laws of the city you’ll be riding in, as the vehicle may not be legal to drive in all areas.

Monte Toboggan Ride
Madeira, Portugal

This unique transport mode is only for the adventureous. Once a popular mode of transport in the 1800′s-early 1900′s, it is a big tourist attraction today in Madeira. Passengers sit in a wicker or wooden tobaggan and ride down the mountain from Monte to Funchal. While an exhilerating experience, you don’t have to worry too much about crashing as there are two locals “steering” the vehicle from the outside. It’s kind of like being a kid again and having your parents pull you around in a sled, only your parents probably weren’t yanking you down a steep mountain with winding turns.

2010 Iditarod begins today

Following the ceremonial start in Anchorage yesterday, the 2010 Iditarod officially begins today with 71 mushers, and their dog sled teams, setting out from Willow, Alaska on a two week long odyssey through some of the most remote and rugged wilderness that North America has to offer. Over the course of the next two weeks, they’ll face challenging weather conditions, endless miles of snow covered trails, and each other, as they race to the finish line in Nome.

Officially known as the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the event began back in 1973 as a way to commemorate the famous 1925 race against time in which dogsled teams delivered a diphtheria serum to Nome, saving dozens of lives in the process. Since then, however, it has earned the moniker of “the Last Great Race”, thanks to its incredible length and challenging conditions. The mushers and their teams will cover over 1100 miles on their journey, while dealing with sub-zero temperatures and whiteout conditions.

The odds on favorite to win this year’s race is three time defending champ Lance Mackey, although he’ll be pushed by past champions such as Jeff King and Martin Buser. And should one of these dog sled racing legends falter, there are a host of young racers preparing to leave their mark on the race, such as Dallas Seavey, son of former champ Mitch Seavey. Both father and son, hope to contend this year.

To win the Last Great Race, the competitors will need incredible endurance, perfect strategy, and even a little luck. But most of all they’ll need a great team of dogs. These canine athletes are born and bred for pulling a sled, and they are impressive to watch in action. As such, their safety and health is of the utmost concern, with vets on hand at all checkpoints, and mushers taking great precautions to ensure that their dogs are well cared for.

At 10 AM local time today, the 2010 race will get underway. Expect the winner to cross the finish line in roughly 10 days, with the rest of the teams spread out over the following week. The winner will take home a nice fat check and a new pick-up truck.