"You can't get there from here", is what you hear when you try to get anywhere from Unalakleet in a hurry. Once the decision to scratch is made, the plan is to get Karen and the dogs out of the checkpoint as quickly as possible. The problem is that in Alaska "quickly" is not something that happens. ITC is responsible for getting Karen and the dogs out (for free), so on Friday they said the dogs will go out on Saturday and Karen will go out on Monday or Tuesday.
This was a bit of a problem considering that both of us were in Unalakleet and the dogs were going to get to Anchorage before us. So with one phone call to Jamie Nelson, half the Siberian Husky world in Alaska was available to go to the airport and pick up the dogs. Its really nice to have so many friends up here (ceiling fans for everyone!!!). So now the dogs are taken care of how do I get myself and my sick wife home before Monday.
I got a hold of an airline that said they could get Karen and myself into Anchorage via St Mary's before the dogs left Unalakleet, I thought that this was great, ITC didn't. I was quoted the rule that said "The musher must remain with the team until the team is on the plane". So back to the other airline where the guy told me that he could get us on another flight that went to McGrath then Anchorage and wouldn't leave until they dogs were on the cargo plane.
We called Jamie back and said thanks anyway but we will be able to take care of the dogs ourselves. Perfect. Wrong. While we were waiting for the cargo plane to arrive, they phoned and said that they had mechanical problems and would be a few hours late. Now one of use has to stay behind and the other has to get to Anchorage to pick up the dogs, and the decision has to be made in the next ten minutes.
Just then one of the checkpoint personnel came into the airport and said that he talked to ITC and it was okay for him to load the dogs on the plane so Karen and I can travel together, but seeing how the cargo plane hadn't left Anchorage yet Karen choose too stick behind because the dogs might end up staying an extra day or two if the cargo plane is cancelled, it was.
Confused yet? Here's the Reader digest version. Karen and the dogs are in Unalakleet waiting for a plane that might never show up, and I'm in Willow waiting for a wife and dogs that may never show up.
Karen spent the night sleeping on the floor of the airport in Unalakleet, being woken up only by trips to the bathroom and the local police department that thought someone had broken in. For the first time in over three days she managed to eat something that stayed in her, but it caused her to have cramps and also cold sweats.
Karen was telling me that the reason why I got that note from Kaltag saying that she was sick, was because the checker, Lavone Barve, who has finished Iditarod about a dozen times, didn't want her to leave until she talked to me. He was so concerned about her health that he wanted her to take one of those big blue bags that they ship straw bales in with her. With the plan being that if she got into trouble on the trail and had to stop, that she could tie the bag to her sled.
Lavone was going to tell the Iditarod airforce pilots to fly overhead and watch for such a signal. If they saw the blue bag the would have radioed the checkpoint and had Karen Medi-vac'ed out. Karen didn't take the bag and left the checkpoint before talking to me.
A few people that read my diary entry about the comments that Carl Huntington's father made about Grover have come up and told me that his name is Sidney and he is a very respected man in Alaska. Getting a compliment from Sidney Huntington about your dog is like having Walter Gretzky tell you that your kid has potential in hockey.