Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Tales from 'the Bench' - McGrath

As soon as I got into my hotel room at the Millennium I hand washed, rinsed out and hung my 'inner layer' of clothes out to dry. Living out of a backpack for 2 weeks with limited running water means taking advantage of every opportunity presented!!!!

Warren texted me to tell me he was on his way back from Rainy Pass and did I want to meet up for a drink. Yup!!!

I actually met up with a number of friends at the Fancy Moose, including Warren, but ended the evening with a number of folks that I worked at Finger Lake with. Great folks!!! Good fun!!! (and a fair amount of Honey Jack Daniels!!!)

On my way back to my room I stopped and visited at one of the Comms rooms. More tireless, amazing volunteers working away around the clock to make the Race run smoothly. Much respect!!!

The next morning a few vans of volunteers were shuttled over to the airport for a commercial flight to McGrath.
When the airport staff asked if I had any knives or sharp objects on me or in my carry on I started to give my standard 'no' answer and then realized that I actually did. I unloaded a knife, a leatherman and my 'spork'. Not sure why as her asking the question was the only 'security' we went through!!!

Warren and I managed to sneak a visit to Starbucks in (Warren for food, me for a latte) before our flight!!!
The flight was delayed and the lounge pretty packed. When I sat down to finish my latte I looked up and found Hobo Jim sitting next to me. 
Make no mistake, I may be a fan of Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Flor Rida, and Pink!! but LOTS of Hobo Jim is on my iPod too!!! (Hobo Jim once gave me a CD after I mentioned that in a newspaper article about what mushers listen to on the trail - although that was a number of years ago and I think he has forgotten!). I've seen him in concert a few times too and he is a really incredible and tireless performer!!! If you ever get a chance GO!!!
I refrained from asking for a picture with him though - just smiled and nodded!

The flight actually gave us some wonderful views of Denali and a few of her also impressively tall friends sticking their heads out above the clouds!

Sorry - iPhone photo through a plane window. It was very beautiful in person!

Arriving in McGrath we found out that the Iditarod Air Force was grounded for the day, so we weren't going anywhere. Warren and I decide to head down the checkpoint to pass the afternoon and night away.

Lots of teams were 24'ing here, so there was lots going on. A number of friends were kicking around the checkpoint too - like Rosie, who helped me out on my layover last year by spotting an issue on See that I had missed, and one of my very favorite Iditarod volunteers, Rick. So a pretty enjoyable time visiting, eating and walking around looking 'official'!!! Warren and I managed to each catch a few hours sleep too!

Kelly Maxiner gets ready to leave McGrath.

The next morning it was back to 'the hub' to see about flights. The weather wasn't great, but it looked like there was going to be a small window to fly.
My next assignment was going to be Shageluk. At that time there was only one vet there and teams closing in, so we were certainly hoping for that window!

Finally our flying assignment came in.

While Nancy Yoshida and I stood out on the runway waiting for our plane, it was obvious the flight wasn't going to be as smooth as a baby's butt - the wind was whipping around!

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