Busted Axle Road
Chapter 95

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

Both Mark and Mike felt like they could go on to Warsaw from the top of Turtle Hill, but it was clear that the snow wouldn't last, so it was with real pain that they turned homeward. The trip back was slower; they stopped to rest the dogs a couple of times, and to further drain the thermoses. They stopped briefly in Mark's yard. "I'll give Kirsten and the kids a ride," Mike said. "Then, let's go to town and have breakfast. If the snow holds, maybe we can go out this afternoon."

"Good idea," Mark agreed, using the tieline to fasten his team to the trailer hitch of his truck. "Except that it's pretty close to lunchtime. I'll go see if Jackie wants a ride."

"See you later," Mike said, and give his team a gentle "Hike" to send them back up the road to his house. He brought the team to a stop at his back steps, and tied the sled to the handrail, and went inside.

"I wondered what happened to you," Kirsten said. "Then I noticed the snow, and that the dogs were gone, and I didn't need anyone to tell me."

"Beautiful trip," Mike said. "We went clear to Turtle Hill. That was great, the dogs worked wonderfully. You want a ride?"

"Some other time," Kirsten replied. "Tiffany's been moping around because you didn't take her.

A sparkle came to Mike's eye. "I know how to make it up to her," he said.

He walked into the living room, where Tiffany and Henry were watching cartoons. "Hey, you kids like a dog sled ride?" he said.

Both were up like a shot. "Get dressed warm," he said. "I'll be out back."

Mike went back outside, and gave each of the five dogs a little personal attention. The kids were outside in record time; for once, Henry got dressed quicker than Tiffany. He put the two kids in the sled basket, then headed across the road, to where the training trail in the field lay covered with snow. He made two laps around the field, then brought the sled to a halt. "Hey, Tiffany," he said. "Would you like to drive for a while?"

"Can I, daddy?" she squealed, not quite believing him.

"Sure thing," he said, "Let's you and me trade places." He probably wouldn't have done it, but the dogs were a little tired from the fast trip to Turtle Hill and back, and they were carrying more weight than normal. Tiffany had run behind Cumulus and Ringo on the ATV, but that hadn't been very fast, but still, nothing was likely to happen.

He got into the sled, got Henry between his knees, while Tiffany stood on the runners, holding the brake down with one foot. "Are you ready, daddy?" she said.

"Sure thing," he said. "Whenever you're ready."

With her voice almost supersonic with excitement, she cried, "Beatle Hounds! Up! HIKE!"

It wasn't the mad rush from earlier, but the dogs took off pretty good down the well-trodden trail from earlier in the summer. Ringo knew the way like the back of his paw, and the team went around the field at a sedate pace. Things went so well, in fact, that Mike got bigger ideas. He turned, looked over his shoulder, and said, "Stop when you get in front of the house."

The after a couple minutes, the team came to the part of the training trail closest to the house, and Tiffany brought the team to a halt, standing on the brake and shouting, "Whoa."

"OK, Henrykins, get up," Mike said to the six year old. He got up, and Mike followed. He turned to Tiffany, and said, "Do you think you can do it by yourself?"

She wasn't expecting that. "Do you think I can?" she said.

"I wouldn't have asked if I didn't think you could," Mike said. "You can do three laps around the track, no more, then bring the dogs back up to the back yard, and we'll tie them out so they can have a rest."

"OK, daddy. Three laps," she promised.

"You be careful," he said. "They're going to move out a lot faster without the weight."

"I will, daddy."

Mike and Henry stood back, as Tiffany took hold of the drive bow, took her foot off the brake, and got the team moving. It seemed pretty fast to Mike, just standing there, but Tiffany was a solid kid, and it didn't bother her. Somehow, Mike knew that Ringo knew to take it easy, too.

"Can I do it too, Daddy?" Henry asked.

"Hey, Henrykins," Mike said. "Your time will come. You're still a little young for that. Would you like to do something else for me, though?"

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