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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Busy Busy Busy

Ok so it has been brought to my attention that there hasn't been a post in quite some time. Sorry about that.....things have been crazy busy. 

When Roger last posted we had just moved up here to Joe and Norma's place in Skwentna, and I was in Ohio to see the kids and grandkids which had been planned for a while. After Ohio I went to Florida for a week to see my mom and returned to Alaska on February 15th. I hit the ground with my feet running!
I got home to our place on Thursday the 16th and started working at the Skwentna Roadhouse on Friday! February and March is a very busy time of year up here with tourists, snow machine races and sled dog races.

Anyway the first weekend I was home was the Iron Dog snow machine race which goes from Big Lake to Nome to Fairbanks. About 2000 miles in all. There are a couple of "classes" that the riders can choose from: trail class which is a laid back kind of ride from Big Lake to Nome or the pro class which goes as fast as possible from Big Lake to Fairbanks hoping and praying to be the first ones there. The pro class rides in teams of 2 and both riders have to check in at each check point before they can continue on. 

Roger worked at the checkpoint here in Skwentna helping out and I was working my buns off at the roadhouse cooking for spectators. It was a bit of a challenge since it was my first day really working the kitchen there and I had no clue where most stuff was and Cindi was outside at the checkpoint! But hey we made it through and no one yelled too loud when things took a little longer than normal.

Roger stayed very busy this winter hauling freight on the snow machine and also shoveling roofs up at Shell Lake.....now any of you that know Roger very well should know that he really doesn't like heights! But he did good and only fell off one roof! The amount of snow they had up there was even more than we had and I know that we had 177 inches of snow here! I stayed busy working at the roadhouse and trying to get settled in here. 
River Crew "Planning Meeting"

The first weekend in March was the Iditarod Sled Dog race. The volunteers started showing up on Friday morning and I was kept busy running back and forth to the air strip with the snow machine and sled hauling people, supplies etc etc.... There is a group of ladies from the Anchorage and Mat-Su Valley area called the "Sweeties" that come out and cook all weekend for the other volunteers and the mushers. There is another group from the Tacoma, WA area that come every year called the "Darlings" aka "The River Crew". Most of these volunteers have been coming to this checkpoint for many years and it was like watching a well oiled machine at work the way they got things done. 
Getting Water for the Dogs
Saturday was spent packing down the snow on the river where the dog teams would be and gathering supplies that would be needed on Sunday. By the time we all sat down to the special "Pre-Hersal" Dinner that the Sweeties had planned for Saturday night for Kelsey (part of the Tacoma gang) and her fiance Carter who were getting married later in the month there was 47 people here! And then a couple more showed up on Sunday morning, another vet and the teacher on the trail. 
Putting out the Straws Bales for bedding down the dogs

The "Dog Food Depot"
Sunday......RACE DAY! While the Sweeties were busy cooking and cooking the Darlings got busy down on the river getting the checkpoint set up. This involves cutting through the ice to provide water for the mushers for the dogs, setting straw bales out for them to bed the dogs down on, putting up the checkpoint banner, digging out the steps for the mushers to use to come up to the building for some food and sleep if wanted and many other items that I am sure I am forgetting. 

And then you wait......watching for the first head lamp coming toward the checkpoint out of the night. This night though we had the Northern Lights giving quite an awesome display to entertain us while we waited. At one point there were hundreds of dogs just below us down on the river. Most all the 60+mushers start the race with 16 dogs and usually still have all of them when they get here as it is early in the race. We did end up with 6 "drop" dogs here that are then flown back to Anchorage until someone comes from that mushers kennel to get them. 
A team checking in

The checkpoint was busy busy from about 8:30 pm until noon on Monday. The first musher arrived shortly after 8:30 pm and the last couple of musher headed out around noon on Monday. 

Looking down on the "checkpoint"

Lance Mackey

One Tired Musher!

On Monday morning some of the vets and communications people started leaving which meant getting them and their gear over to the airstrip. All of the comms people and vets, dropped dogs and race judge were scheduled to leave on Monday but the weather turned and the Iditarod air force couldn't get all of them out so we ended up with no vets but still had drop dogs here. We did still have a couple of comms people and a great race judge who used to mush to help with the dogs. We ended up bringing the dogs up off the river on Monday night though as there were some wolves howling in the area and no one wanted the checkpoint to make the news for dogs being attacked by wolves. 

Monday AM Still have a few teams here
And exhaustion wins!

The "Darlings" Getting ready to head home

Finally got everyone including the dogs on planes just after noon on Tuesday and man was it quiet around here! It was a wonderful experience and I am so glad we were here to be a part of it. 

Well I think I will call it enough for now. There is much more to tell about what has been happening over the last couple of months and I will try to post again in the next week or so. Thanks for taking the time to read our blog and I promise we will try to get back in the habit of posting. 
Blessings to all, Myra


  1. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  2. wow....sounds like a great time with lots of excitement and comradery. Throw in Northern Lights and howling wolves for special affects! Thanks for sharing, thanks for posting! Great pictures!