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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Iditarod ---- WOW

What an experience! There is No Way I can describe all that took place, went on, happened, did, experienced and etc.

We arrived at the Roadhouse late Saturday afternoon, it took longer than normal to get there because we took Hans and Jeff along. The place looks normal inside and out except there are many more snowmachines than normal. Even on their busy days they don't look this busy in the parking area. When we went inside most of the other Volunteers were already there. There was a lot of introductions and then right into dinner time.

After dinner Dan got out his guitar and played and sang for a couple of hours. He was a professional performer Way back in the day.
The Roadhouse is a pretty big place and there were people from end to end and many people were working in the kitchen. Take a look at the ceiling, it is covered with 30 plus years of Iditarod posters and memorabilia.

On Sunday morning Dan and I cooked breakfast of Eggs over easy and waffles for everyone of the 30 some people that stayed the night. I was in charge of cutting the waffles and loading plates and food distribution. I gotta tell you, I was one heck of a good waiter if I do say so myself. The rest of the morning was free time until noon. Several people went snowmachining and some just took in the sights and sounds of their first time in Alaska. (Many of the volunteers were from different parts of the country and we had 3 from Australia and 2 from England.) Five of the people were Veterinarians from other places, that volunteer and get courtesy licenses.
During this free time before the Noon meeting we managed to find a way to make it so Hans no longer needs to be Neutered. I can't and won't go into any details but he slept thru the race and is doing very well as an It.
The Noon meeting was to give official introductions, learn operational procedures and hand out assignments. Myra jobs were Collecting the "Race Bibs" from each musher, and Getting Signatures (Autographs) from as many mushers as possible as they went thru the Checkpoint. The signatures were on official Iditarod posters that are done each year by an Alaskan artist. She had to try to get them to sign three posters. (We got one of the posters for ourselves.)
This is Myra's' official work uniform. It helps to lighten the mood of a very serious musher when you want an autograph while he is in a 1000 mile race. These posters were for us, the Roadhouse and one was going to Australia I believe.
Myra managed to get 47 signatures out of 62 racers. This is quite a feet considering sometimes all 5 checkpoint lanes were full at the same time. You can see here the Mushers does not have on his Race Bib anymore. The Bibs are removed at this first check point and re-assigned at the last checkpoint. This is done for two reasons. The big reason is Safety. A Musher nearly died a few years ago because he could not get the Bib UN-tied and was stuck in his coats and heavy gear in a very bad situation. The second reason is so that the musher does not lose them if they take them off themselves. The rules state that they must start and finish the race with the Bib in place. The Bibs are actually flown to the last checkpoint before the finish so the mushers get them back. It really is an important item for identification (and TV cameras) for the officials.
This is a Musher coming into the checkpoint with his Bib still on.
Myras' other job was to take as many pictures as possible while dong the other two jobs. I did a little of the photos also.

My jobs were to help with set up of the checkpoint, be a Dog Team Runners then trade out jobs to the "Point" which is to be be the "Look Out" about 3/4 mile down river, with a radio and call ahead to the checkpoint as Dog teams are approaching so they have the right number of people in the right places. At one point in time near the end of our night I had Eleven Dog Teams in My sight at once heading toward the checkpoint. it was a near "Cluster" considering there are only 5 lanes for check in. It got real busy out for a while.
I am the guy in the middle near the dividing point. The Dog Teams that were parking and staying were at the top lane and the Teams that were going thru were in the bottom lane. Since there are no Rains or halters on these dogs and they are voice command only, that does not always work out very well. I frequently had to grab a Lead Dog harness and direct the dog team to the right lane for them to travel. I would sometimes have to take them all the way to their parking position. You should have seen this big body running with 16 race dogs trying to get them where I needed them.
In this picture I am the little image way out away. there is one dog team passing on the right and the two leaving the checkpoint are coming at me at the same time. Have you ever seen 32 dogs in race harnesses all tangled together? I Have and all I can say is Wow!
We had a plane over shoot the runway and get stuck in the soft snow while landing. Guys went over with ropes and snowmachines to pull him out.
We had Para-sailors (two) and helicopters (two) and many airplanes and hundreds of snowmachines all coming and going during this event. To top that off we had 62 teams of 16 dogs come thru in just over 3 hours (That's 992 dogs) and 14 teams parked and stayed for up to seven hours.

The Moon went down over the Mountains and Life was perfect again this day.

OK, so these moon pictures were from in front of our place the other day but they were just to beautiful not to share.

We had a Wonderful experience and a Great time. It was a Lot of work and we were both very tired after the event but WOW, it was cool.

Martin Buser is in the lead and Lance Mackey (4 time champion) is in second. They are just over 1/2 way as I type this and it is turning out to be a good race.
www.iditarod.com check it out if you want. It is also in the paper here at www.adn.com

I did take a snowmachine tour group into the Landing on Monday and bought fuel and groceries. We did not get home until Tuesday and today was chore catch up day at home.
It never gets boring here. There is more I could tell and more pictures I could show but, This has taken me over 4 hours. It is great fun to share.
Thank You for being with us! May God be with you!
See Ya,

1 comment:

  1. Wow, is right!! The photos are amazing, and we could feel the excitement. All of that and the northern lights-amazing. Glad to have experienced it through your description. Thanks. You remain in our thoughts and prayers. So glad Hans is recovering from his experience. Love and hugs to you both