John and Diana are traveling around the country with a 37-foot RV and an 18-year-old cat. This is their story.
Monday, June 21, 2010
No, we did not plan to go to Wasilla for a sighting of Sarah Palin. I do not think there is any chance of finding her in Walmart or Dairy Queen anyway. Those were the only two places in Wasilla we stopped at other than the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters. One tour book we have says that the Iditarod defines Alaska as a state. I could understand that after touring this museum. At the dog race headquarters trophies and photos are among the race memorabilia on display. We were also able to see video footage of of past races.
The Iditarod, also called the "Last Great Race On Earth", had its first beginnings in 1973 when a race was organized to commemorate the 1925 event when 20 mushers relayed serum to Nome to save children who had contracted diphtheria. In the early years of the race it started in Wasilla but had to be moved to Willow when subdivisions and an airport blocked the trail. Willow is about 70 miles north of Anchorage. Since 1973 651 Iditarod teams have finished the 1,000 plus grueling miles over glaciated ice. It takes about 9-17 days to complete and can reach temperatures of minus 60 F. Each sled is pulled by as many as 16 dogs. Some of those dogs do not complete the race because of dehydration or fatigue. A musher must finish the race with 5 dogs. For the musher it is not so much being first or winning the prize as it is more about personal victory and a huge accomplishment. For myself, I can not even imagine standing on a sled for 100 miles a day and tolerating bitter cold and strong winds. People who participate are both men and women from around the world. The 2010 race had a man from Jamaica. This race was started to keep the rich tradition of the sled dog alive. Needless to say, the dogs are incredible athletes and have been bred for this race. Outside of the museum were some of those dogs who, during the summer months, pull sled-dog(carts) for anyone wishing to have the experience of riding behind a team of dogs. I was just content to cuddle one of the puppies. The puppy I held was quite docile and friendly. I was told by her handler that such a personality is very characteristic of the sled dog.