As many of you are aware, we got home from the Canadian Challenge on Saturday evening (and no fear, a Challenge blog will be done once I get back to Alberta!). Sunday we unpacked the dog truck, I drove Richard to the airport, got back in time to cook dinner for Brittany and Simone (Mark was working nights), unpacked my own stuff, repacked and crashed into bed.
Monday morning Mark drove Simone to the airport and I headed for Alaska.
The decision to drive to Alaska was made for a couple reasons. First off, although I had discussed this idea with Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordman a LONG time ago, final plans didn't come together until right before Challenge so a last minute flight would have been expensive. Also 'pups' Daddy and Sky have been looking for a way to get to their new home in Alaska for a while, so this would take care of that.
The drive up was GREAT fun. Without the dropping/feeding schedule of 24 dogs - and driving my sporty little Highlander rather than the big 1 3/4 tonne dually diesel dog truck - I was able to make great time!
Great enough time to stop for a soak at Liard Hot Springs!
Outside of Whitehorse I stopped for a quick visit with Rob and Louise Cooke of Shaytann Siberians. Rob just finished the Yukon Quest with a team of Siberians (that included one NorthWapiti kid - Tidgy!!) and I wanted to pass along my congratulations (and visit Tidgy and Eeek, who is also a former NW resident!!).
|Rob Cooke, Gus and I|
I got to Jon and Jona Van Zyle's place in Alaska around 8pm on Wednesday. We got their new additions all settled before having a lovely dinner.
The next morning I was in Anchorage bright and early for a Iditarod Race Judge meeting and then the official driver's meeting.
It was interesting to be on the 'other side of the table' - but I'll confess that I would have given about anything to switch sides!!!
After the meeting all the judges got together with Mark Nordman and sorted out our first assignments. I'll be heading to Finger Lake. The checkpoint is based out of Carl and Kristin Dixon's Winterlake Lodge so it will be a busy, but still pretty 'cushy' assignment!!! I am looking very forward to that!
I spent the rest of the day catching up with friends and then went to dinner with fellow Canadian race judges Thomas Tetz and Warren Palfrey, none of us really sorry to be skipping the Banquet!
Friday was a 'day off'......ummm.....sure....I don't think I stopped running till after midnight!!! But it was all fun. I had breakfast with Thomas and Warren, did a quick bit of shopping at REI and Title Wave Books, went to Bonnie and Jim Foster's musher open house, went to Albert Lewis's 'Athletes of the Iditarod' book signing, a gallery showing of Jon and Jona's artwork and then out for an amazing dinner!!!
|Photo by Sab!!|
|Photo by June Price (great to see you June!!! It's been ages!!)|
Saturday morning I packed up all my stuff at Van Zyle's (LOVED my time staying with them!!) and headed into Anchorage for the Ceremonial Start. Really not a lot for the judges to do, but we walked around and looked 'official'.
It was great to be able to hug and wish many of my friends well on the trail, but also hard to know that I wouldn't be sharing in the adventure in the same way as usual.
I had hoped and planned to 'Run with the Reindeer' (a fun, Fur Rendezvous fundraising event) after the start, but turned out it happened too late. Warren and I had to get out to Willow.
So, I'm now crashing at the home of my very dear friends Doug and Krista Grilliot in Willow. I need to pack up the duffle I'll be living out of for the next while and Doug will give me a ride over to the restart later this morning.
Hopefully I'll be able to catch some of the action at the start before I have to catch my plane to Finger Lake!!!
I'm not sure how much I'll be in touch while on the trail. I'm told there is relatively good cell phone coverage in many of the checkpoints, so I will likely be able to do a bit of Facebooking, but I won't be taking my laptop along, so the majority of the stories and pictures will likely have to wait till I'm back!!!!
It's going to be a different but, I know, fun trip!!!