Friday, 13 April 2012

Tales of the Trail 2012 - Ceremonial Start

Ceremonial Start morning for Iditarod always starts bright and early. In order to be in downtown Anchorage and on 4th Avenue at the required time we are up and getting ready by about 4am. Thankfully it is usually such a fun day that being bright and 'perky' is possible even if we are exhausted!

Richard and I loaded dogs alone and then picked my good friend Doug Grilliot up on the way to the city. Doug lives a few miles off the highway and had walked out to save us a bit of time. With the 'moose situation' in Alaska this winter, Doug had walked out armed. That fact came in handy later in the day.

When we parked on 4th Avenue Helen "who smells like cookies" was waiting. Helen had flown up from Maine on Wednesday, attended the banquet, helped at the Open House and was once again around to give us a hand! It is super handy to have good friends that know me, the dogs, and how we (yes, the dogs are just as particular as I am - maybe even more-so) like things done.

The four of us snuck over to our 'usual' restaurant (one of these years I will have to figure out the name of that place!!) for breakfast. I don't know that you could imagine 3 more different people than Doug, Helen and Richard but they are really some of my very favorite people on the planet and sitting down to a meal with all three of them was a very special treat for me.

Then it was back to the truck to get the dogs their breakfast. We only had to have the 20 dogs that were on my 'Iditarod list' (we must submit a list of 20 dogs on the Wednesday prior to Iditarod. Any of these 20 can run the start and restart, but no dog not on that list can run) on 4th Avenue, but I see no point in leaving the other 4 behind. If nothing else it is good experience for them!
All the rookies did a great job of eating with the crowds and commotion. I was very proud of them.

The time went by quickly as we prepared the team, sleds, visiting with old friends, did the odd interview, etc., etc.

Visiting with one of my heroes, Libby Riddles!

As we were getting ready word came around that moose could be a problem on the trails on the way to Campbell Airstrip. Quietly and carefully Doug's gun got tucked into Richard's sled. No way were we making it through all we did in training to get stomped on the Ceremonial Start of Iditarod! (As it turns out there was not a moose anywhere to be seen!! Maybe they got word that Richard was armed!).

Soon it was time to hook up and get moving.  Thanks to our terrific helpers, that was accomplished quickly and efficiently. My Iditarider, LaRita Skipper got tucked into the sled. Just as I was about to step on the sled my cell phone rang. Seriously??? Who could be calling??? Turns out it was hubby. "What are you up to???", he asked. I missed his presence in Alaska alot and it was wonderful to get a brief chance to talk to him.

Doug rode my sled with me up to the start. We chatted with friends, waved and goofed around for the few blocks up to the start line.

The trails on the downtown streets of Anchorage were warm and slow, but it was still a fun trip. Rita tossed booties to kids and encouraged the 'Sweet Angel Babies' (aka the Curly Tails) from her perch in the sled. She was a great Iditarider!

When we came to the muffin stand the always present trumpet player broke into 'O Canada!'. I stopped and asked if he took requests. When I explained that my second sled driver was British, he happily broke into 'God Save The Queen'! What a good sport! =)

We stopped to visit with my friends the Wilkens family. Logan and Calvin hopped on the runners for a quick ride too!

Too soon it seemed we pulled onto Campbell Airstrip.  Helen was there to hop on the runners with me and guide us to the dog truck.

The dogs were watered, unharnessed and tucked back in the truck and our fabulous helpers all headed their separate ways.

We drove Doug back home and he invited us over for dinner. We got the dogs put away and took the Grilliots up on their kind offer! A great meal, a bit of pomegranate tequila and then back home for a good night's sleep!!

A good day!

1 comment:

Mark and Pat in MN said...

Soooo glad we could be there and help get the team to the start. Mark's first trip for the Iditarod, my 3rd.