Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

Boston, Massachusetts

BostonFrom somewhere in New York, we continued to Boston, through the Appalachian Mountains.

Boston! there are SO MANY things to do and see there!!

What do you think of when you think of Boston? Paul Revere? Celtics? Common? Tea Party? Fenway Park and the Red Sox? Cheers?

CHEERS!! Of course! because “sometimes you want to go where everyoneCheers knows your name!”

Cheer is Cheers (1982-1993) on the outside and the Bull and Finch Pub on the inside.  Apparently, the show was filmed “in front of a studio audience” on set, BUT that didn’t stop us from going in and sitting at the end of the bar, and yelling “Norm!!!”

I know! HOW CLICHE!! But, I’m not embarrassed. I mean, seriously! we could not have been the first, and we sure won’t be the last!

Cheers postcard Cheers postcard 1

My best souvenir from there was the napkin with “Cheers” on it, but Peter got aCheers napkin Cheers baseball cap. He loved it, and wore it faithfully, until he lost it forever at the bottom of Lake Pend Oreille, in Sandpoint, Idaho.

In case I don’t remember to talk about it later… we had the opportunity to take a sailboat out onto Lake Pend Oreille… owned by a friend of my sister’s… none of us had ever sailed, including the owner – let’s call him.. “Joe”… 😀 Anyway, he sort of had an idea how to sail because he read a book about it… at one point, he’d made the generous offer to my sister: “Hey – you ever want to take the boat out on the Lake – let me know.”

And then, we came to town, and it seemed like fun!

During one of the moments when my brother was navigating, we discovered that you cannot actually flip a sailboat over (something about the weight of something under the sailboat – I want to say the Keel, but I could be completely wrong – almost certainly am). You can’t flip a sailboat, BUT you CAN lay it on its side… (which is when Peter lost his Cheers hat.. BUT he DID NOT spill his beer! )

We are planning a trip back to Cheers to get another hat… technically, you can order one on-line, but where’s the fun in that?

The original Cheers location is at one end of Boston Common.Boston Common

Boston Common is a 50 acre park, established in 1635, and therefore the oldest park in the United States. (Boston, itself, was established in 1630…) Other than being “oldest”, it’s also known for many things -including cattle grazing (until 1830); Colonial militia musterings and British Redcoat encampments; a civil rights rally led by Martin Luther King, Jr. (along with other rallies)…

It’s also the beginning of Freedom Trail, a 2 1/2 mile walk through Boston, that visits 16 historical sites.

The Freedom Trail website invites us to “discover the rich history of the American Revolution, as it began in Boston, where every step tells a story.”  Now, I can just assume that the sights and scenes about the American Revolution (1775-1776) from the Freedom Trail may have a different story, if you are from a different country. BUT, this is bits and pieces of history as I know it.

First stop of the Freedom Trail, after Boston Common is the Massachusetts State House. completed in 1798.  It was built on land previously owned by John Hancock, who was Massachusetts’ first elected governor AND the first to sign the Declaration of Independence.

The dome of the building was covered in copper by Paul Revere, who (did you know?) was the “first American to roll copper successfully into sheets in a commercially viable manner.” (Wikipedia.)

Next on the Freedom Trail, is the Park Street Church, where, in 1826, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s brother, Edward Beecher, was a preacher.  (I didn’t actually even see this church. Apparently, it’s adjacent to the Granary Cemetery, and I was so enthralled with the Cemetery, I almost remember nothing else.) (By the way, I’m not “enthralled” in a creepy way – I just love all the history!)

OK! Now, the Granary Burying Ground!  (This was the 3rd of four cemeteries/burying grounds we visited on this road trip.  The other two being The Battle of Little Big Horn and Mount Moriah, in Deadwood, SD.)
Granary CemeteryGranary Cemetery 2
Founded in 1660, this isn’t even the oldest burial ground in Boston, but is only 3rd oldest. (Wish I had’ve known that when I was there.)

Among 1000’s of people buried here, are:
~ Samuel AdamPaul Revere Tombstones (signer of the Declaration of Independence)
~ Crispus Attuck (an African-American victim of the Boston Massacre)
~  members of Benjamin Franklin’s family (Ben is buried in Philadelphia)
~ John Hancock (mentioned above)
~ Paul Revere (silversmith and key player in the Revolutionary War drama)
~ and Mary Goose (who some claim is actually Mother Goose – I guess there some discrepancy about that… apparently, some of the Mother Goose poems date back further than her existence.. however, I don’t really think that matters – maybe she just happened to be the one who repeated them and compiled them…)

 Freedom Trail next takes us to King’s Chapel and Burying Ground. The Burying Ground were founded in 1630, and the first cemetery in Boston.  (This is where Google would’ve been handy – I didn’t know about this.) The Chapel was added in 1686, founded Royal Governor Sir Edmund Andros, during the reign of King James II.

Right across from the Kings Chapel is the First Public School Site (Boston Latin School, founded in 1635, making it the oldest school in the United States AND still exists today, although at a different location) andOld South Meeting House Benjamin Franklin Statue.   Ben Franklin actually DID attend Boston Latin School, but, rumor has it, dropped out.  (Samuel Adams and John Hancock also attended.)

I mistakenly thought the Old South Meeting House was the Old North Church.  But the Old South Meeting House, built in 1729, is where the colonists met together and planned the Boston Tea Party.

The Boston Tea Party was a political protest by the Colonists against taxes imposed by the British government, controlling the tea being imported.  (In 1767, the Townshend Revenue Act was issued by the British government, decreeing that a tax had to be paid for the purchase of glass, lead, oil, paint, paper, and tea.)  In 1768, the Colonies set up The Boston Non-Importation Agreement which boycotted further importing and exporting from and to Britain.   In exchange, Parliament passed The Tea Act in 1773, granting the British East India Company Tea the monopoly on tea sales in the American Colonies.

According to the Boston Tea Party website, the intention of the Tea Act wasn’t meant to make the Colonists mad. (Tea had already been taxed way back in 1767.)  In fact, it seems that it was some sort of concession – due toTea Party 4 boycotting and protesting, they had already repealed the tax on the glass, lead, etc.  And this Tea Act was, in fact, an effort to bail out the East Indian Company out of debt.

Well! THAT didn’t work out as planned AT ALL!!! Sick of being told what to do and with whom to do it, a group of colonists, dressed as Mohawk Indians, snuck unto the tea ships in the middle of the night and destroyed 92,000 pounds (41,730 kg) of tea!

The Boston Tea Party site is not actually included in the Freedom Trail walk, but is still nearby.
Tea Party 2Tea Party

On the other hand, the Old North Church is the place where lanterns were hung, warning the Colonists if the British were coming by land or sea – “One if by land, two if by sea.”

Paul Revere instructed Robert Newman to signal with TWO lanterns, signalling to Colonial militia and back-up riders of the British invasion, across the Charles River.  Meanwhile, Paul Revere and William Dawes rode out to warn Colonial militia in near-by towns.  Other riders then, once warned, rode further, relaying the warning.

He rode from Boston to Lexington, to warn Hancock and Adams, arriving around midnight. The Paul Revere House website includes a map of “Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride.

You can actually visit Paul Revere’s house, which is now a museum.  It’s back on the Freedom Trail tour (this is where Paul Revere lived during his Midnight Ride) and is the site right before Old North Church.
Paul Revere HousePaul Revere 2

Displayed in the courtyard of Paul’s house is a  “900 pound bell, a small mortar and a bolt from the USS Constitution, all made by Paul Revere & Sons.”

The USS Constitution, “the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world”, is also on the Trail.  George Washington ordered its construction, and it was first launched in 1797.  In 1812, the USS Constitution wasOld State House nicknamed “Old Ironsides” because cannon balls just glanced it’s hull.  (We didn’t get to go there, either, but I will next time, for sure!)

Right after the Old South Meeting House is the Old State House, built in 1713.  In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony.

So, I’m skipping the Old Corner Bookstore, Faneuil Hall and Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.  Not because they are less important, but because I don’t have pictures anyway.  (I was there before the days of Digital cameras – now, I’d have pictures of everything!! In fact, then, I probably took pictures of everything, but since I had to wait to get them developed, might not have saved them all, not remembering what everything is… AGAIN, I’m not THAT old! but this was a little while ago….It does seem clear, though, that I will have to walk The Freedom Trail, when we are back in Boston getting Peter his new Cheers hat.

Next on the Disposable Car Roadtrip is Bar Harbor, Maine.

(PS.  Remember how I planned to post on Wednesdays and Sunday?  And HAVE since September 2012.   However, for the time being,  I think I’m going to have to post a blog on Sundays, only…. Too bad… not forever… just till further notice…)



A Slight Delay

Hi there everyone!Blog spokesperson

So, I started this blog September 9, 2012, and had the goal of telling about some roadside attraction, a Big Ball of String sort of sight, every Wednesday and Sunday.

Today (which is still Wednesday, where I live), is the first one I missed.

I planned to talk about Boston, and I’m working on that particular blog.  But, because of Series of Unfortunate Events, I haven’t finished, and I don’t want to rush it.

I did consider trying to finish it tomorrow, but I’m not sure that the Series of Unfortunate Events will be over by tomorrow, so! Boston on Sunday! xoxoxoxox

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Crazy D’s, Buffalo Wings and more fireflies – Michigan to New York

After Chicago, we headed for Michigan to see Richard and Shannan, and their baby boy Evan.  We had a nice time there, and did visit-y things – wentMore Corn out for dinner, met Richard’s parents, etc – but really nothing touristy.

From there, we went to Indiana to visit some other friends that I’d known from high school days.  There, we also did visit-y things – went for dinner,  etc. etc.  Again, nothing touristy.

In each state we were in, I tried to buy a postcard for my scrapbook. (This was before the days when on-line photobooks were convenient ~ but not THAT long ago!! Don’t get sassy!)

So, as we were leaving Indiana, and headed for Ohio, I suddenly realized I had no postcard, so we pulled over at the first available gas station.

I ran in to check out the postcard supply (the gas station was on the interstate, and just passed Indianapolis, so I thought it’d be a successful search.)

The gas station attendant, missing at least one tooth, dressed in overalls, with the classic one-broken-strap, and covered in…oil?  Very friendly and helpful, he said, “How kin ah hilp yeh?”   (I’m sorry, Indianans (er Hoosiers?) – this is really what he said.) I said, “oh! Actually, I need to buy a postcard that represents Indiana.”

He steered me to the postcard display, and picked out a postcard OF the gas station.

Crazy D'sI wasn’t completely certain that THAT was the postcard I had in mind, until he said, “This par-TICK-ular pick-chur’s of this here gas stashun frum wee-in it first opened up.”

Oh! That IS interesting! It was all faded and worn out, and looked like those postcards from 50’s, so I said, much more intrigued! “OH! Wow! Ok! I WILL buy that postcard. When did the gas station open?”

He said, “See-ix munce agoooo”.

Oh goodness! Best part of my day! I will NEVER forget this!Indiana

We spent a night in Dayton, Ohio, with some friends, and then headed off towards Buffalo, New York.

We drove along Lake Erie for about 3 hours.  I meant to stop in Hamburg for a hamburger.. (technically, “hamburgers” are said to originate in Hamburg, Germany, but Hamburg, Pennsylvania, is named for Hamburg Germany, sooo, having a hamburger there seemed appropriate.)

But, we were heading for the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, which was only 26 miles away – so…I forgot about Hamburg, until we were long passed.  (While we’re talking about places to which we didn’t go, we also didn’t go to Niagara Falls, even though we were only about 1/2 an hour away.  BUT,  that is because 1) we had to be to Maine in time to catch our ferry to Nova Scotia, and 2) we’d already been twice  (future blog) (although it’s definitely worth seeing over and over!!) so it was easier to not go…if we hadn’t been there, we would’ve gone FOR SURE!! (and so should you, if you haven’t been before.)

The Anchor Bar is the place where Buffalo Wings were invented (in Buffalo), by Teressa Bellissimo, in 1964.  She happened to have some chicken wings that she was, it seems, going to be used in soup, but her son, the bartender, Dominic, and a bunch of his friends were hungry.  So, Teressa threw together some ingredients and deep-fried the wings, and Voila ! Buffalo Wings!

Anchor BarOf course, lots of places claim to sell “Buffalo wings”.  But, as always, it’s pretty tricky to compete with the original.  Frank and Teressa’s wings apparently hold the title “Best Wings in the World.”  And that’s how it should be.  Since their recipes are a “closely guarded secret”, there is the option to buy their sauces.  (Currently, anywhere in the Continental United States, the shipping is a flat rate of $9.99, but they also ship to Canada and some other countries – you can contact them for additional costs for each country.)

Buffalo WingsTheir site also includes recipes people have sent in, with meals that include their sauces.

Delicious and yummy.  The ambiance was fun – exactly as it should be. The owners were mingling, the regulars were dressed up in velvet suits, and wearing hats (one even with a feather) like from the 1970’s….if you are getting the mental picture…

We camped somewhere east of Buffalo, and spent the rest of the evening counting Fireflies!

Wednesday, on to Boston.

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Chicago, The Windy City

Once upon a time, a long time ago, we had the opportunity to go to the Observation Deck of one of theTwin Towers World Trade Centers, in New York City (will eventually be telling about that trip, too).  Though I always forget which of the Twin Towers we were in, Wikipedia confirms that the South Tower, Tower 2, is the one with the outdoor and indoor observation deck.  So there! Mystery solved!!

Because of winds, we weren’t allowed to go to the outdoor observation deck (1,362 ft (415 m) high), so we went to the indoor deck ( 1,310 ft (400 m) high).  It was still amazing – the windows were arranged so that you could look down to the street below, and see people coming into the building.  AMAZING!

I mean – it’s REALLY HIGH! but, it turns out – I’m not afraid of heights.  I AM afraid of falling… but that doesn’t apply here, since I was safely behind the window.Sears Tower

ANYway – once the Twin Towers ~ uh ~ came down… I was on a mission to go up to the Observation Deck of the Sears Tower, as soon as possible!  In fact, from what I remember, it was part of the reason we chose this particular road trip route. (As well as the fact that, we’d have been in 14 new States and Provinces by the end of the trip.)

The Sears Tower is 1,450 feet (440 m) at the rooftop, and the observation deck (the Skydeck) is 1,353 feet (412 meters) tall.  It was the Tallest Building in the World for 25 years, and still is on the top 10 list for Free-standing buildings.

Ground levelThe Sears Tower (which is now called The Willis Tower) is SO TALL, that I ended up with temporary vertigo.  (Does it qualify as vertigo if you are looking up, instead of looking down?) I was fine while looking down, no problem.  But, I tried to take a picture standing right below it, looking straight up, and almost fainted. I thought maybe if I laid on the ground and took the picture, instead of standing, that’d help, but no. Completely nauseated.  (I did take that same picture, beneath and between the Twin Towers once upon a time…)  Peter had to take this one.. Those extra 100 feet did me in.

The tallest building in the world (at the moment), in all categories, is Burj Khalifa, in Dubai.  It’s 2,722 feet (829.8 meters) tall.  THAT gives me vertigo just typing it!!

Burj Khalifa has the world’s SECOND highest outdoor observation deck – at 1,483 feet (452 meters)…  THE HIGHEST outdoor observation deck is at the Canton Tower, in Guangdong, China, at 1,476-1509 feet (450-460 meters) tall.

ST3 ST 3

We didn’t stay at the Observation deck very long (there’s a limit on how many people can be up there at a time) and soon found ourselves back on the ground.

We were only passing through Chicago, so we chose a few things we thought were “must see’s” and ended up at Union Station. (I know, I know – all the Chicago experts could give me a HUGE list (and please do – it seems like we are always “just passing through”, but I obviously need to plan a trip where Chicago is the destination.)

Completed in 1925, Chicago Union Station is “the only example in the United States of a “double-stub”Union Station station”.  (“Double-stub” means “no pass-through”).  This Station has 24 tracks coming from 2 directions, and they don’t continue under or through the station.

Union Station is more than just a train station, though (I didn’t realize that while we were there…)  Its Grand Hall (which can  be reserved/rented for special events) is “considered to be one of the greatest indoor spaces in the United States”, with its 18 Corinthian columns, pink marble floors, and barrel vaulted atrium ceiling.

The American Planning Association (APA) designated Union Station one of the Top 10 Great Public Spaces in 2012.  Wikipedia explains that these Spaces “that promote social activity and community cohesiveness” and are “safe and inviting, well-maintained, and attractive, both visually and in functionality. In addition, local culture and history are reflected within the space.”

Field Museum Speaking of culture and history, our next stop was The Field Museum.   Since the movie, “The Ghost and the Darkness”  scared me 1/2 to death (on my Top 5 scariest movies), I was excited to go to the Museum, where the actual Tsavo lions are on display.

The lions stalked and killed many, many peopleGhost and the Darkness (construction workers building a bridge in Tsavo) before Lt. Col John Henry Patterson ended their terrifying rampage, in December 1898.  (Patterson wrote “Man-Eaters of Tsavo”, which I bought at the Field Museum, which was later used in the making of the Movie.  In it, Patterson estimated that the lions ate around 135, but after examination and scientific studies, etc,  “they” estimate the amount to be much less… “much less”??  Still too many!)

SueAlso, at the Museum, is Sue – “the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found,” found in the Black Hills, in South Dakota.  Sue is 42 feet (12.8 meters) long, 13 feet (4 meters) tall at the hip, has 58 teeth and her skull ways 600 pounds (272 kg)!!  (The skull attached to the skeleton is a replica, because the bones cannot support the weight of her real skull.)

Across the street from The Field Museum is Soldier Field, Home of the Chicago Bears.

THAT would’ve been a good roadside attraction thing to do! (going to an NFL game) However, we were there in summer and the Football season hadn’t started yet.
StadiumSoldier Field and Daisy Deux

Time to go anyway – on our way to Michigan to visit Richard and Shannan. (This, actually, was our first time to Michigan.)

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Bridges of Madison County, Fireflies and John Wayne

Two weeks after it started, all but one of the mushers from the Iditarod have arrived in Nome. (Well, actually, 12 of the original had toDogs having fun “scratch” (which means, basically, they had to quit before they finished, for whatever reason – generally, it’s either because of the health of their team or their own personal health.) BUT, of the remaining 64, all but one have finished.

As I previously mentioned, Mitch Seavey was first to arrive (9 days, 7 hours, 39 minutes, 56 seconds), followed quickly by Aliy Zirkle (9 days, 8 hours, 3 minutes, 35 seconds.

The last person to arrive gets “The Red Lantern” award, and this is a very prestigious award! Apparently, it “started as a joke and has become a symbol of stick-to-itiveness in the mushing world.” Perserverance. Determination.

I think that has to be true – how hard would it be to know you were last and maybe still days from finishing – everyone else is done, has had a nice bath and a nice meal. Very admirable to not give up!!

This year’s Red Lantern, is a first time Iditarod musher, Christine Roalofs, from Anchorage. She JUST finished! 13 days, 22 hours, 36 minutes, 8 seconds. WHAT a relief!! Good for her! Woot Woot!!

So, back to our Disposable Car Roadtrip:

PostcardRobert James Waller wrote (in The Bridges of Madison County), “There are songs that come free from the blue-eyed grass, from the dust of a thousand country roads. This is one of them.”

Once we left the Omaha airport and Franklin, we made a mad dash for Winterset, Iowa, 132 miles East. We didn’t take the above mentioned dusty country road – we took the I-80, paved – top (legal) speed, to make up for lost time!! (From what I can tell, though, the 1-80 wasn’t there (or not as it is now) in 1965, when Robert Kincaid drove from Seattle to Winterset. (Besides, he took Iowa Hwy 92 when he left, so that was even more likely to be dusty…)

I didn’t actually see that movie, but did decide to go Winterset because of the movie – you know, Big Ball of String, roadside attraction theme. Celebrity Bridges.

We had to get there before twilight, so we could see them, take pictures and still get back to Winterset, where, not only did Francesca watch RobertRoseman Bridge 3 drive away, but also is where John Wayne was born.

We made it to Winterset in record time (especially when you consider how slowly we were moving before, in the disposable car.) and found our way to The Bridges.

Originally, there were 19 Covered Bridges in the Winterset area, but nowadays there are only 6 left standing. I think we managed to see 3 or 4 before it got too dark, but I only really remember the Roseman Bridge (because I have the best pictures of that one, and because, in the story, that’s the bridge Robert Kincaid was coming to take pictures of, and also that is where he requested his ashes be scattered…)

Roseman BridgeThe Roseman Bridge was original built in 1883, and then renovated in 1992. It’s 107 feet and still sits on its original site. It’s the second longest bridge – the longest is the Hallowell, at 122 feet. (This bridge was built in 1880 and renovated in 1995, and also sits on its original site. It is the bridge that was actually featured in the movie, apparently).

The Cedar Bridge is the only one on which you can actually still drive. The 76 foot bridge was built in 1883, over Cedar Creek. In 1921, it was moved (still over Cedar Creek, though). In 2002, some stupid ….. idiot burned the bridge down, and so it had to be rebuilt in 2004 (which, I guess,Postcard 2 explains why you are still allowed to drive on it.)

After we (reluctantly) left the Bridge area, we headed back to town to visit John Wayne’s birthplace.

On the way down the road, though, all of the sudden, we saw the most amazing thing! Tiny little flickering lights!! My first thought was “FAIRIES” – maybe “TINKERBELL!” But, Peter came up with FIREFLIES!!

THIS was the first time in my entire life I had EVER seen FIREFLIES!! I was SO enthralled!!! We had to pull over! firefies


By the time we got back to Winterset, John Wayne’s house was closed…

I kind of wished we had’ve made it, BUT! if I was going to do it over, I’d still pull over and enjoy the fireflies, instead.

I was so awestruck by fireflies, I forgot about The Bridges until I got my film developed.

But THEN!!! I saw the pictures and was forever hooked on seeing and visiting Covered Bridges! And so, Peter made me a little Covered Bridge for our mailbox, and I painted the lane.Covered Bridges of Calgary

As mentioned, I didn’t see the movie BUT I did read the book, once I got home. And, as far as tragic love stories…sigh…I’m glad we went.

Wednesday, maybe we’ll be in Chicago..?

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Corn Palace in South Dakota, and Omaha

On our way to Corn Palace, and about an hour after leaving the Deadwood area, we suddenly realized wCorn Palace Lewis & Clarke were passing a “Dances with Wolves” film set – a fort on the side of the road. I can’t remember which one, and I’m not willing to watch the movie again, to find out. Maybe you’ll recognize it from the picture… (I didn’t love the movie – sorry! I am sorry for those of you who may have.  If you really want to know why, I can tell you.)

Anyway – we didn’t go look at the film set. I’m not a fan.Dances with Wolves

Besides, I was really anxious to get to The Corn Palace, in Mitchell SD! I mean – how can that not be intriguing!?  It is, after all, the World’s One and Only Corn Palace… (as per the Visit Mitchell website.)

More Corn PalaceI guess it’s ridiculous to assume that someone just shows up every year with a wheelbarrow full of corn, and makes a picture by gluing corn on the side of the building and hoping for the best!

In actual fact, a local farmer grows all of the corn (12 different colors), the design team (The Corn Palace Committee) starts discussing and planning the theme months in advance, a local artist designs the mural and numbers each section according to the color of the corn, draws it onto black roofing paper, which is nailed to the wall, and then a design team nails the corn to the wall, according to the number scheme.  (It’s a new display every year, and the old one stays in place until they are ready to put up the newIn progress mural, at the end of August.)

Interesting.  Although I was kidding about the wheelbarrow full of corn and the glue, it’s still much more complicated that I originally imagined.

Corn PalaceOriginally called The Corn Belt Exposition, the tradition of the Corn Palace was established in 1892, when the farmers would display their harvest on the building to “prove the fertility of South Dakota soil.”  In 1921, the first festival was held at this current existing building.

As if Corn Palace isn’t enough! We had the fortunate timing of visitingStreets of Mitchell Mitchell while they were doing repair work on their streets.  Really, it is a pretty good idea, isn’t it? to cover the fresh tar with biodegradable toilet paper, so the tar doesn’t get stuck to your car!? I can’t believe I’ve never seen this anywhere before!!  BRILLIANT!

After we left Mitchell, we went over the state line into Nebraska, just to cross Nebraska off our list of places we hadn’t been before.  The plan was:  Go to Nebraska, and do a U-turn, and come straight back out, travel across the bottom of South Dakota, through corn fields, to Iowa, and then take the I-80 across to Winterset (where the Bridges of Madison County are – this was after choosing to go to the Bridges instead of crossing across Minnesota to see the Jolly Green Giant – and we chose the Bridges, because they are old and could, potentially, fall down..over time, and we could miss our chance to see them at all!)

More CornHowever, what ACTUALLY happened was: The car died. We made it safely through the corn fields (which was a relief since we passed absolutely nobody the entire time we were out in those cornfields.)  The car died somewhere around the Junction of Highway 29 and Interstate 80..about 5 miles before the junction, the car completely died. So, after refilling the transmission oil, we decided to do what you are supposed to do – don’t go forward, go back to where you last saw civilization – which was about a mile back at an old gas station.

When we got there, Peter wanted to see underneath the car, so he – I don’t really know how to explain this – but he drove into the curb so that the car popped up and the front wheels were on the curb and the back wheels were on the dirt… so it was lifted up and he could see underneath.

Once we got the car back on the road, and turned onto the I-80, there saw a sign that said: “Next gas station, 140 miles.”  Yes, that DID seem adventurous, but Peter was pretty much finished with adventure that day, so we started to consider a PCouncil Blufflan B.

On the side of the road, we decided to call U-Haul, and see about renting a little truck, camping in it, and returning it on the other side of the country. $3000!!!!! THAT was the quote!! and we had to be there (in Council Bluffs in 6 minutes.)

$3000 seemed like a lot, so we decided, instead, to just rent a car, and since we were passing a sign that said “Omaha Airport” – that seemed like a good start!!  Not having “Google” back then, we didn’t really know who to call, but just then! out of nowhere, I remembered the jingle to “1-800-go-Alamo”!

This is kinda crazy because we had never actually rented with Alamo before, but you know how some things seem to just work out too wonderfully? well!

THIS is amazing AND, though it was a long time ago now, has always been one of my favorite memories.

1) when I called (thanks to modern technology – even though we didn’t have Internet on the cell phones yet, we DID have a cell phone!!), the man from the call center transferred me to the Omaha location, so that the nice man at the Alamo airport location could talk to me as we drove in – “about now, you should be passing a trailer park up on the hill” – and we were!!!

2) when we arrived in the airport, we passed a few car rental locations we had previously used, and actually went over to get quotes, even though the Alamo guy was holding a reservation for us.

3) the Alamo guy could see usOmaha meandering through the airport, getting quotes, and knew (somehow) we were the people with whom he’d been talking

4) the Alamo guy was very helpful about finding a tow truck to come pull our disposable car out of the parkade… but, as we were trying to figure out what to do and how to do it, with the car disposal issue, Peter said, “Unless, of course, you know someone who wants a 1984 Ford Marquis”.   He said, “A WHAT?? No! I don’t need a car, BUT – HOLD ON!!  FRANKLIN!!”

Franklin came out from the back, and the Alamo guy said, “These people have a 1984 Marquis to give you, if you want it…?”

OH GOODNESS! Franklin started to cry.  Apparently, he was a new father, in the less affluent part of Omaha, and was having a really hard time getting to work and transporting his family around, and had just been saying “if only he could afford to get a car” and happened to (of all the craziest things!) love the Ford Marquis.  (Seriously! I am NOT making that up!!)

We sold it to him for the appropriate $1, and threw in all of the stuff we couldn’t fit in the rental – including the remaining transmission fluid and a barbecue (remember, we were camping.)  (Also, he’d be driving inner-city, so, as you recall, it was fine under 30 miles (50 kms) per hour.  He might never even need the transmission fluid.)Franklin

By the time we were driving away in our rental car, he was leaving to go home to show his wife his new car …

How ironic, too, that I planned to avoid Nebraska, except that little trip in and out that we made earlier, for the sole purpose of crossing it off The List – only to have one of my best memories of all time, take place BACK in Nebraska a few hours later!!!

With a brand new and fast car, we headed off in record speed to Winterset, to see the Covered Bridges!! More on Sunday.

PS. It looks like the first Iditarod musher is coming into Nome maybe today.  Mitch Seavey (who I didn’t mention, I don’t think…?)  He’s an Iditarod icon – his whole family has participated in the Iditarod – his dad, his sons, and him.  As a family, they’ve had over 30 Iditarod finishes.  THIS year, his son, Dallas, is currently 4th.

Right on his heels (according to an 8pm report for March 12th, 24 minutes behind.), is Aliy Zirkle. HER website tells us: “In 2000 she was the first and only woman ever to win the Yukon Quest — “The World’s Toughest Sled Dog Race.” Including her first Iditarod in 2001, Aliy has completed the 1,000+ mile race tweleve consecutive years. In 2005 and 2011 she received the Iditarod’s “Humanitarian Award” for supreme care of her dog team. Her best finish was 2nd place in 2012.”

(Addendum, 8 hours after publishing this blog: Not only did Mitch & Aliy finish the race (and, it seems, probably around the time I was typing, they were coming into Nome), but 9 others also did! Congratulations to all the finishers!)

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To Deadwood, South Dakota, in a Disposable Car

Our routeOnce upon a time, and as I have mentioned a few times throughout my previous blogs, we decided to go on a big long roadtrip – the furthest we’d ever driven one way! From Calgary to Halifax, Nova Scotia, but primarily through the United States.

The problem with roadtrips is backtracking…in my opinion… The roadtrip is really fun and exciting the entire time, UNTIL it’s time to come home, and then I just want to be home. Instantly.

So, we decided to by a “disposable” car.  It was  1984 Ford Marquis, purchased for $400. It was SO comfortable – it passed inspection – perfect! Our plan was to drive it one way,  and, if it made it in a decent shape, donate it once we were ready to come home, and then fly home.
Disposable CarIt was mostly a great plan! The only downfall was that the inspection we had done was “inner-city”, so when the mechanics drove it, it never made it over 50 kms (30 miles) per hour.   It turns out that at about 50 MILES per hour (80 kms), it started spewing transmission fluid.

We didn’t know that until we “died” in Great Falls, Montana.  Well, on the side of the road going into Great Falls.  Once we got the car going again (and by “we”, I mean “Peter), we loaded the entire trunk with transmission fluid.

Originally, I thought Daisy could come with us, too, but at the last minute, weDaisy Deux looking on decided she wouldn’t enjoy flying, so one of her favorite people (Shelley) came and stayed with her. (We didn’t have Coco yet.)  Well, I was soooooo sad to leave her! So another one of my friends gave me a little “mini Daisy” (a little stuffed toy dog, which you may have read about in my March 6 blog about the Iditarod) – to bring in her place – I call her Daisy Deux.  (We also have a little “Coco” doll, called Coco Two, that we now also bring along, when the real little girls can’t come…)

The first few days, we visited some of the places that we later repeated, and I’ve already written about:  The Battle of Little Bighorn, Devils Tower, Crazy Horse Monument, and Mount Rushmore.

Entering deadwoodThe route we chose between Devils Tower and Crazy Horse, though, went through Deadwood, South Dakota, and I haven’t talked about THAT fascinating place yet!  (The easier route is through Rapid City, but I really wanted to go to Deadwood, because it’s where Wild Bill Hickok was murdered and is buried.)

It turns out that, originally, the area in which Deadwood was established was treaty land and meant for Indian habitation (of course it was!), but Custer (of course) announced gold and caused a gold rush (Black Hills gold).  (This is a common theme of my blogs on Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, and Battle of Little Big Horn.)

Deadwood sprang up practically overnight and was notorious for gambling, prostitution and murder ~ there’s a reason there’s a movie made about it (I didn’t see it).Deadwood postcard

Wild Bill served in the Civil War, and followed that career with a lot of other gun-fighting endeavors. (Apparently, he even scouted for George Custer’s army…) Eventually, he “settled down” in Deadwood, which, turns out, was a bad idea.

He was shot in the back of the head, while playing poker. His hand (good for the quick-thinking witnesses to the murder to check out his hand after he was dead and record it) is called Deadman’s Hand, and was a pair of Aces & a pair of 8’s – all black…(the 5th card hadn’t been changed out yet, and nobody really knows what it was..)

Original tombstoneOriginally, he was buried in the town’s little cemetery, with a wooden marker, which his friend supplied, but the cemetery filled up quickly (murder was “the norm”), and Wild Bill’s body was eventually moved to a nearby cemetery (Mt. Moriah) and he now has a monument and tomb. (His original wooden marker was defaced over the years, but there’s a replica.)

Calamity Jane is buried next to Wild Bill.

SHE claims that she was married to him. She claims they were in love. She claims that he is theWild Bill's final resting place father of her daughter… everyone else claims he wasn’t at all interested… plus, he was married to someone else…

The people who were in charge of her burial thought it’d be funny to bury her next to Wild Bill, because she, apparently, was his Stalker. (She has other claims-to-fame, but they are their own story – mostly that she was living in a Man’s World, and managed to keep up.)

(Incidentally, Mt. Moriah Cemetery was the second cemetery we’d visited on this roadtrip – the first being the Battle of Little Bighorn.  We ended up going to two more on this particular roadtrip. It was a surprise underlying theme of the trip – which I’ve labelled the “Disposable Car Roadtrip.”)

Wednesday, we are off to the Corn Palace – yes, you read that right.

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Again, with the Iditarod! Can’t get enough!

On February 27th, I talked about the Ceremonial Start of the Iditarod in Anchorage, and on March 3, I talked about the OfficialLance's Team Restart of the Iditarod in Willow, but I have more to say! (Big surprise, I know.)

We had so many random experiences and had so much fun, even though (as I mentioned), it was the coldest I’d ever been in my entire life!!  Technically, the temperature at the hotel said -10° Celsius (14° Fahrenheit), which doesn’t sound that cold, but it was like the frozen Coffee Shopocean air and the frozen glacier air came swirling down and wrapped itself around me!!  But, it’s not just not my imagination – it actually froze my battery in my camera! (A local coffee shop let me recharge my battery, though, thank goodness! Could you imagine if I couldn’t take pictures!!?? Nightmare!)

The Ceremonial Start is very festive – the mushers take off in order, and theyIditarider stay in order (not really racing yet – the real race starts the next day at the Official Restart).  Some (most?) of the mushers have guests who ride in their sled (called Iditariders) – the Iditariders bid for the exciting adventure of riding along.

I’ve never seen anything like the dog teams! 16 dogs, raring to go!  They are so anxious to run, theThe Handlersy have anchors on the sleds, handlers for almost every other dog, and often people piled on the sled, just to hold them in one place! They yip and yap and bounce around! BUT, when it’s time for the countdown, they are sooooo quiet!!  No sounds at all, once the countdown hits about 8!

The 16 dogs all have jobs – leading the pack are the Lead Dogs.  They listen to the musher’s commands, and guide the team.  Swing dogs come right behind the Lead Dogs, and they are responsible for helping turn the team (which means they also have to listen to the musher’s command).  Wheel Dogs come Tangledright in front of the sled, and are the muscle – they pull the sled around turns and obstacles.  And Team Dogs- all the rest of the dogs in the middle – their job is to help pull the sled, and not get tangled up.  This works like clockwork (unless someone buries a reindeer hotdog (IT WASN’T ME) somewhere near the track…)

We’ve been to the Iditarod twice, so my memories are getting mixed up – which experiences belong with which visit.

Sarah PalinFor example: there’s the guy who made me pay him $1.25 to take a picture of his duct tape splint.

We met Mrs. Alaska.  And, speaking of beauty queens, we did get to visit a tiny bit with the (then) governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin (we didn’t really actually meet her, because she already knew one of the people we were with). (Also, not going to talk about anything political, here, but Sarah seemed very nice!)

Then, we met Leo! When Daisy & Coco (our two little miniature dachshunds) can’t come with us, we (well, I) bring their littleDaisy Deux Coco Two counterparts: Daisy Deux and Coco Two (gifts from friends from once upon a time when I was sad to leave the actual Daisy & Coco behind).  So, I had Daisy Deux and Coco Two out for a picture and someone came over to introduce “Leo”, her lion mascot, and set him into the picture I was taking.. Apparently, Leo has been everywhere – including into Outer Space!

The teams are all brought out in trucks and you just can’t believe the noise of the excited dogs!! (I don’t know how to include a video of my own, but here’s one from youtube for 201o, one of the years we were there…be prepared, if you watch it, that there’s some icky pictures of someone carrying a pelt…but, it really is what you see when you are there…)

A teamThe BIG event, though, is the Official Restart! The festivities from the Ceremonial Start follow to Willow – less carnival-y, but the media comes out, the fur kiosks, and tons of spectators.

The greatest highlight was that, after deciding to root! root! root! for Lance Mackey – our fleet of snowmobiles ended up parked within the general vicinity of “Mackey’s Maniacs”…

Lance and the other mushers and teams were all on the other side of the fence with the media, and we couldn’t go over there, but before long, the media came out to meet the Maniacs, and Lance came shortly after! (AND, the Maniacs were nice enough to let us elbow our way in to their visit.)Mackey Maniacs

Speaking of nice! Lance, and his wife, Tonya, were so nice and friendly – and, even though they were so busy, they stayed around for photos and autographs and more photos.  Forever solidified as my favorite!!

Lance and TonyaShannan, Evan, Lance, me

So, the first time we went, Lance was one of the first teams to start, so, right away, we headed out down the trail about a mile, to find a spot on Long Lake, so we could watch the teams go by.  It was amazing!! With all the noise and excitement at the start, it was a surprise to see the silent determination from the teams as the shwooshed by – all you could hear was the “shhhhhhhhhh” from the sled skis going by.  (And, then, after Lance went by, we went back to the start to watch the other mushers take off.)Peach Schnapps

To get to Long Lake, we went by snowmobile, of course, and I thought it was going to be just a short trip. So, I didn’t dress appropriately…in that, I didn’t strap on my hat, and I didn’t completely bundle my face, and I didn’t latch the top of my coat… and I was COLD! I was SO COLD, I think the cold air somehow got into my goggles (or maybe I didn’t have them on…I don’t remember) and froze my eyes (not in a way that caused damage, but in a way that caused complaining).   I can tell you right now that there was only one thing that fixed that level of cold, and it was peach schnapps.  (Not sure why, but only peach schnapps works.  And, thank you – whoever brought them and then shared 😀 You know who you are.)

The second time we were there, Lance was leaving later, so we stayed and watched the Restart, Rarin to goright at the beginning,  and then went out to find our place on Long Lake after.  There’s so much hype and excitement with the teams, it’s really worth watching the restart!! but watching the calm precision of the teams in motion is worth watching too. It’s nice to have the option to do both.Team 4

Back at the Restart (the second time we went)… Right away, we met a girl (Michelle) who was waving a Jamaican flag, so (with the same mentality as hanging around with Mackey Maniacs), she was nice enough to let me follow her around – actually, I talked her into walking around with me… I figured that if anyone was going to get to meet the Jamaican Dog Sled team, it’d be the one and only Jamaican girl!! (Loved her -she’s still one of my Facebook friends…in fact.)Mush Mon

So, off we went – with the goal of meeting the Jamaican Dog Sled team musher, Newton Marshall.   I can’t find the article now, but I did read that Newton trained on sand. I can see how that would be effective!!  And then, for the cold, he came up and trained with Lance Mackey.  (That was then – this year he trained with Kelley Griffin.)

Needless to say, with some determination and a little bit of a trek, we did get to meet Newton!
Newton and MichelleNewton and me

The first year we went, I searchedDogsledding with camera and searched for a sled to sit in for a picture. All were being used, and no matter what, I couldn’t get in. The second year, however, they had (which is a great tourist-y thing) a 1/4 mile Dogsled track. They use dogs in training, and you can do the little circuit.

Every year, I “watch” the Iditarod on and follow-up articles at  I track the progress of each musher, every day.  I’m completely hooked.

This year, 66 teams started ~ Lance started #5. Newton started 8th. (Sebastien Schnuelle, mentioned in my previous blog, is a correspondent.)  The official Restart was this past Sunday.

Currently, Lance is #3.  (Apparently, this year, he met an onslaught of fans, at one point – not saying they slowed him down, but I did wonder why he slowed down…and also, apparently, he has cameras making a documentary about him this year – currently being called “Lance.” He really is fascinating! You should read more about him and his goals and wins! (Not to mention his antics and strategy out there on the trail!!)

I feel like I could go on and on and on, but there’s no way I can explain the Iditarod – you just need to go and experience it for yourself!!The End

The side-effect of this blog, and the fact that the Iditarod is currently mid-race, has made me nostalgic.  So, guess what! Looks like we might be planning a reunion! 2014 Iditarod!! You should come!

Sunday, I’ll be talking out our Roadtrip of the Disposable Car… unless I write more about the Iditarod… but I THINK it’ll be about the disposable car….

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The Iditarod’s Official Restart

As mentioned in the previous blog (Alaska in Summer), we impulsively decided to return to Alaska in winter – Yes, WINTER!!!Happy Dogs

But for good reason! To experience The Iditarod… as a spectator only, of course.  I canNOT even imagine actually participating!

This is a race, by dogsled, deemed “the toughest race on earth”, is over 1150 miles (1851 kms) over extreme terrain, across mountain ranges, over frozen rivers, through dense forests, across desolate tundra, and along windswept coastline.  (The official distance is 1049 miles (1688 km)

Southern Route, as per Iditarod.comThere are two trails – the North Trail (which has 26 checkpoints) and the South Trail (which has 27 checkpoints). (In my previous blog, I said there were 22 checkpoints, but, I’m sorry, I guess I miscounted…although, they count Anchorage AND Nome as 2, so I wasn’t out as much as it sounds….)

Once upon a time, both sections were used for winter travel, but when the Iditarod race first started, the mushers only used the Northern Route, and the Iditarod website explains that “the smaller villages were being heavily impacted by the race coming through their village year after year”, so theyAt The Double Musky started alternating the routes.

Along with protecting the little villages from an annual onslaught of outsiders, one interesting benefit to changing the route to include the southern route is that the southern route includes the ghost town, Iditarod! (That seems like an important detail ~ a “roadside” attraction.)  (This year, the teams will be taking the Southern Route, but both of the years we went, they were taking the Northern Route.)

We arrived on Friday, the day before the Ceremonial start (which I talked about in my February 27th blog), and were whisked off to The Double Musky Inn, in Girdwood, about 40 miles (64 kms) southeast of the Anchorage airport.

The Double Musky is Pepper Steakabout 2.5 miles from the Alyeska Ski Resort, and was opened in 1962 as an after-ski bar.  At that time, “cooked their own steaks over a fire in the front dining room”.    That was then – now, they are a world-famous restaurant (featured on the FoodNetwork, and reviewed by Bon Appetit, Fodors Travel Guide, the Chicago Tribune and New York Times and a bunch of other periodicals), and are especially famous for their pepper steak.

I always order Alaskan King Crab (if available) and Peter always orders prime rib (if available), but since The Double Musky is famous for their pepper steak, Peter ordered it and LOVED IT!!! (And, by the way, this was the first pepper steak he’s liked…it’s ruined him for all future pepper steaks…)
AlyeskaAlyeska roundabout

On the way to the restaurant, we drove along the Turnagain Arm, Beluga Bay.  FIRST of all, and I know how ridiculous thisTides sounds, based on the Arctic… but, I was SHOCKED to see the Ocean FROZEN! so shocked!  And, it’s so interesting to see where the tide was in, froze, tide went out, and then back in later, and froze again, so it builds ice walls.

I’m ALSO shocked to find out that there is a Tidal Bore there.  Now I want to go back, just to watch the Tidal Bore. After my last blog, Shannan suggested we go back for another Iditarod, and that does stir up a bit of my adventurous Broken Frozen Oceanspirit (if you count “spectating” as “adventurous”, but I do! and you might too, if you go to Alaska in the winter, for the Iditarod!) BUT, this desire to go is further enhanced by this promise of the Tidal Bore.

Wikipedia describes a Tidal Bore as “A tidal phenomenon in which the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave (or waves) of water that travels up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the river or bay’s current.”

If you haven’t seen one in person, that might sound…boring (?), but we watched the Tidal Bore comTruro Tidal Boree in, in Truro, Nova Scotia (definitely an upcoming blog), and that tide came in so fast and furious, I was a little breathless and just a little bit freaked out!

The Truro Tidal Bore (one of the fastest in the world) can travel up to 30 miles (48 kms) an hour and can reach up to 20 foot (6 meter) waves! The Turnagain Arm, Alaska Tidal Bore travels about 10 miles (16 kms) per hour and up to almost 10 feet (3 meters).   (The speed and height difference is because the Truro bore is coming into a much more narrow riverbed, and Turnagain Arm is coming into a Bay.)

Truro Tidal Bore Truro Tidal Bore 2

You have to YouTube Turnagain Arm Tidal Bore. This is one of the sites. (Surfing on the wave.)

We stayed at the Millennium Hotel, the Iditarod Race Headquarters, in downtown Anchorage…a pretty good location – we were one block away from the Ceremonial Start.  (I told all about the Ceremonial Start in my February 27 blog.)

After Saturday’s festivities, we went for dinner at Garcia’s Cantina, and then on to Willow, to prepare for the Official Restart on Sunday.

We had a house that Richard and Shannan rented (or were house sitting…I don’t remember) right on a beautiful (frozen) lake – so we could watch families of moose strolling along – and after the Restart, people going home on their snowmobiles.

But, to enjoy the Restart, we went to Shannan’s parents (Dale & Ruby) and her sister, Stacey & her husband, Terry’s house, to organize and to gather up tThe Highwayhe snow machines for the journey to the Restart… which, I don’t know how far away it is – maybe 3 miles?

Getting there is kind of an adventure on its own – driving (riding?) the snow-machines down the highway (well, beside – and Itypical transportation rode with Peter because 1) I wanted to take pictures, and 2) I was afraid to drive my own) and arriving like an armada – everyone else is arriving on snowmobiles, little two-seater planes with skis for landing, some sort of vehicle with a giant …fan propeller sort of thing that pushed the vehicle across the ice… and a very few arrived by car or truck.  They even have little trees in pots on the ice (we are on a lake) to make a runway for incoming planes.

Since this was my first time there, and I’d only very recently found out that the Iditarod existed, I didn’t have my fan-favorite picked out yet. However, Stacey told me this heroic story about one of the mushers, Lance Mackey, a recent cancer survivor, who was racing, who also had just won his first Iditarod the year before, so I thought that was a good starting point, and decided to cheer for him, too!

(This being said, if you read the biography on the mushers, you will find many heroes and survivors in the group, and, now that I’ve been watching for the past 4 years – well, this is my 5th year (today marks the FIFTH Iditarod Official Restart that I’ve watched), I have collected a top 5 favorites.

My absolute favorite is Lance Mackey –  because he’s an amazing athlete, fierce, loves his family (of humans and dogs), and polite and friendly to fans ~ listed as #2 in Sports Illustrated’s List of Top 25 Toughest Athletes in 2008 (#1 doesn’t make sense to me so I can’t even mention it – but if you meet Lance and take a look at what any one of these Iditarod athletes can do, any one of them could beat the person ranked #1….)

Newton MarshallAnother favorite is Newton Marshall, who is the Jamaican Dog Sled team. (He wasn’t participating in the first Iditarod we attended, but he was at the second).  The Jamaican Bob-Sled team qualified to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, depicted in the movie, Cool Runnings (1993).  I am waiting for Newton’s sequel, “Cold Runnings”, to come out.   (He trained for the 2010 Iditarod with Lance Mackey.)DeeDee Jonrowe

Then, there’s DeeDee Jonrowe – she has the fastest finish time for women, and 14 Top-1o finishes. In 2002, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and (obviously a survivor), she started one of her Iditarod races only 4 weeks after her last chemotherapy treatment.  And, you can always find her in a crowd – she always races in pink.

And, there’s a few I pick just because they are characters – like…Sebastian SchSabastien Schnuellenuelle, who you can tell is a character, just by looking!!  or Sam Deltour, who almost fell off the back of his sled, when he started dancing to our “Go Sa-am, Go Sa-am” as his team went by… Trent Herbst, who is a school teacher and his students made the booties for his team… (too bad – none of these people previously mentioned are competing this year..)  Ramey Smyth (who IS competing this year) who has the BEST EVER picture of him coming in to Nome, with one of his dogs in the sled, because she was tired… Jeff King, who retired and then un-retired, but helped fund the Iditarod from his own winnings when there wasn’t enough money, plus he’s an actual icon in the Iditarod history… Kristy and Anna Berington, twins who compete together, sort of… and I get that this isn’t an image thing – but somehow, after 2 weeks of grueling hardship and freezing cold, manage to be just as pretty when they arrive in Nome as when they left Willow (I’m SORRY! I know that’s not the point, but it still is amazing!!)

Sam DeltourTrent HerbstKristy BeringtonJeff King

I canHank Debruin see that I could go on and on (AND that I have more than 5 favorites), and would eventually name every single musher as “amazing”, “heroic”, and “the one to watch.”  And, even though I picked “favorites”, you can’t help but hope for the best for each of these athletes, and cheer enthusiastically for each team as they pass!  Not everyone has a goal of “winning”. MOST jHugh Neffust have the goal of finishing… THAT  IS an impressive goal! There’s a reason there’s only 66 teams this year! IT IS TOUGH! The Toughest Race on Earth!!

I meant to talk more about the great time we had, but I (surprise, surprise!) got sidetracked with the mushers and teams…so, I’ll talk more about the Iditarod on Wednesday.

By the way, you can track your favorite dog teams on GPS.  (Although, when they started using GPS, one of the mushers had attached his GPS to a plane, and confused everyone when, instead of travelling at the average 8 miles per hour towards Nome, he was going really fast towards Anchorage.)


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