Sunday, March 8, 2015

Iditarod -- March 7, 2015 -- Anchorage

             The weather forecast went from an overnight snow accumulation of "up to 9 inches," to 6 inches, to 3 inches, to in fact, rain. By 9:00 a.m. when we set out for the Iditarod though, the rain was ending, and the sky clearing and windy. Downtown the wind whipped the flags, pushed the road barriers, and made sails of people's ponchos, but didn't seem to disturb the dogs in the least.

Dogs -- stars of the show.

Fact --78 mushers and about 1,200 dogs. In the thick of it, easy to believe, and remarkably noisy. Each team seemed to have a dozen or more helpers -- dog handlers, musher handlers, and handlers' handlers. Not to mention that every spectator over the age of ten seemed to have at least one camera (not counting phones, and helicopters with cameras). We only hung around the west end of the scene where sleds were getting ready because we had another commitment at 10:00, but got plenty of photos nonetheless.

A musher handler (not a dog handler).

      Each team has a truck, which often is graffitied with advertising. But a few were works of art -- this one, with the thistles, for example.

Advertising the "Mushing Mortician."

The well-worn, rusting-out look -- but the dogs look great.

 As the time got closer to hitch the dogs up, someone had to put booties on each foot of each dog. Note that at the curb of Fourth Avenue, the dogs are standing on wet pavement. The snow was in the middle of the street, and down the middles of the side streets where many of the teams were getting set up.

This one's got a jacket, along with the booties.

A pair of dogs in harness, ready to run. It was hard to get a long shot of a whole team -- I'll find some stock photos and post them later.

The mushers and spectators were worth watching. Not sure who this musher is -- either Aussie, or Kiwi.

People were dressed warmly -- it was 38 degrees, but the wind was cold and damp, and the forecast was for increasing chill. Fur was much in evidence for hats and ruffs, but too heavy for jackets.

Spectators dressed warmly too.

At Fire Island, people sitting outside, and a little dog, not ready for the mushing life.

Later in the day, we went back to see how the snow sculptures were doing. Costumed Girl Scouts waylaid us and persuaded us to buy the last box of Thin Mints. Who could turn down an offer from these kids?

The sculptures had taken on an earthy, ancient-ruins quality.

Pussy willow bush.

 Rolling up the fences on Fourth Avenue.

 A be-whiskered Alaskan.

We missed the Frostbite Race along Fourth Avenue, but captured a couple of the contestants outside a bar.

Over it all, mostly clear blue skies.

Later, sunset over Cook Inlet.

Plane landing at the airport.

Kites on the Park Strip.

Another Alaskan-hatted guy at Bear Tooth.

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