Tuesday, 4 March 2003

March 4, 2003

She's off!

Sunday was a travel day for us, We spent the most of the morning packing the truck in the pouring rain. Trying to keep things as dry a possible. We left at around 10:30 in the morning, the rain eventually turned into snow, then at Cantwell it stopped all together and it was clear and dry the rest of the way. We drove past Denali (Mt McKinley) but with the dense clouds we didn't see it.
Monday morning after the dogs were fed, Karen went and had her traditional pre Iditarod breakfast of steak and eggs. Then it was off too the river with 15,000 other people. We had no sooner dropped the dogs when a crew of people came over to scan the dogs microchips and another crew came over to collect urine samples. Karen packed, unpacked, and packed her sled a few times before she decided that it was just the way that she wanted it. 

When we saw team 34 leave their truck we decided that it was time to hook up our guys. We had Pam Kanzler (Pirates Mom) lead the team to the starting chute. Now leading a team to the stating chute is an honor and is usually reserved for the main handler (me). But Handler Rule #15 clearly states "Why run, when you can ride". So I rode on the back of the sled with Karen as Pam ran in front of the team.
Once Karen was gone I went back to the truck so I could repack it for the 1 hour drive to Nenana. I wasn't in much of a hurry because I knew that it would take Karen at least 6 hours to get there. I decided to pick up my pace when a kid fell through the ice on the other side of the river behind my truck and his dad had to jump in and rescue him. The water was only about 4 feet deep, which isn't bad except the kid was only 3 and half feet tall. Everyone is alright and the police flagged off the area.
I expected the drive to Nenana to be the "Dogtruck 500" but it was a very nice drive with not a lot of traffic. Once in Nenana I followed Handler Rules #5, 6 & 7. Which are "Fuel the truck up whenever possible", "Eat whenever possible" and "Sleep whenever possible". Once I woke up, I sat in the truck for a while listening to the radio and watching the other handlers frantically gathering up gear to hand over to their mushers who were not going to be showing up for at least a few more hours. 

Some mushers camped before Nenana, some in Nenana, and others camped past Nenana. Some of those who planned on camping past Nenana loaded up their sleds with what looked like enough food and straw to last a week. It looked quit humorous as these balancing acts lumbered down the trail. Karen's plan was to camp past Nenana. I know that the website shows Karen in and out of the check point, but she was probably there about 25 minutes, it seems that she really likes indoor plumbing. 
The dogs looked great, the only time that they shut up was when Karen snacked them with fish. When Karen arrived at the check point I put a neck line and leash on the leaders and Karen hooked up to a snowmachine that took us to our spot. When it was time to leave there were no snowmachines around, and we were almost at the trail and past most of the icy sections, so we decided to head out on our own. When I asked Karen to stop the team so I could take off the neck line and leash, she couldn't. So I did it on the run, it wasn't pretty but I got them off and gave Karen a high five as she went laughing down the trail.

With Karen gone, I left for Willow, a five hour drive. Once "home", I had to feed the dogs that didn't get to run. Karen must have all our head lights, so I fed the team in the dark. The Northern light were out, big time. I had to laugh to myself, whenever Karen and I run dogs and the Northern lights are out, we say that we're getting help from our dogs that have passed away. So maybe Libby was out there last night with Karen showing her "grandepups" how its done, or at least sleeping with Karen while she camps on the river.

Anyway that's all for now.


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