Some More Firsts

I experienced another Alaska first last night.  The television was on and that familiar and irritating warning signal went off.  I was in another part of the house, so I went to see what the warning was regarding, expecting it to be a test signal.  Turns out it was a real warning….for a tsunami!  Luckily for us, the warning was well south of Anchorage.  The warning system is for the entire state of Alaska so we heard it as well.  A 7.7 earthquake had occurred off the coast of British Columbia, Canada.  The tsunami warning was issued for British Columbia and southern Alaska.  All in all, it was a sobering reminder that we live along the Ring of Fire and to expect the unexpected.  I’m also grateful for my home on the Hillside, well out of the way of a tsunami.

On a much, much lighter note, I had another first ten days ago or so.  The Christmas lights are up on our house.  Yes, you read that correctly.  We have Christmas lights up and functioning in the middle of October.  Now I’m normally a person that takes one holiday at a time.  I don’t like to rush through Thanksgiving to get to Christmas.  But here’s the reality of living in Anchorage – you have to get the Christmas lights up before there’s too much snow on your roof.   Our days have gotten considerably shorter now that we’re well into fall.  The Christmas lights provide a little more light during the long nights and seem to make everything a tad more cheerful.  The Christmas lights will stay up and on through February, possibly into March.  I’ve been told some people like to leave their lights up until the Red Lantern award has been given at the Iditarod.  The Red Lantern is given to the last musher into Nome.  I like that idea.  When the Iditarod is over, the days are finally getting longer and though it’s still bitterly cold, spring is only a short time away.

Iditarod 2012 Update

I didn’t plan on it taking this long for me to post again.  Life with 3 young children has kept me busy the past couple of weeks.  I have a couple of ideas for my next posts.  They should be up more quickly.  I know all of you are waiting with baited breath….

My last post was about the ceremonial start to the Iditarod race.  Todd and I were able to help lead Anjanette Steer’s team to the start line and it was a blast!  The race is now over and I wanted to share the results with you.

Dallas Seavey (the musher Todd and I were able to take the super fun and cheesy picture with) won the 2012 Iditarod in nine days, four hours, 29 minutes and 26 seconds.  At 25, he became the youngest musher to win the race.  Aliy Zirkle came in one hour behind Seavey for a second place finish.  Anjanette Steer, the rookie Todd and I were following, came in 26th place.  Only one other rookie, Brent Sass, finished before her.  Finally, capturing the Red Lantern award for the last musher in to Nome, was rookie Jan Steves.

It was fun to watch how the entire city of Anchorage was engrossed with following the Iditarod.  Very different from Texas and football, but tons of fun anyway.

Iditarod 2012

As I get older, I value honesty and transparency more and more.  So to be honest, nothing about a cross-country move is easy.  There are days that have been quite difficult.  I don’t write about it too much because I don’t want this to be a Debbie Downer, woe-is-me journal of how I’m finding it hard to adjust to my new surroundings.  I try to keep it light and focus on all the incredible things our family is getting to experience.  I’ll be having a hard day, then I have to go pick one of the girls up from school and the view is astounding.  I’m surrounded by mountains.  I’ve always wanted to live in the mountains, so I remember to say a prayer of gratitude for this opportunity.

Today was one of those days where I just had to say, “Wow! What an amazing thing I just got to experience!”  It was a cross it off your bucket list kind of day.  Our family attended the ceremonial start of the 40th Iditarod Race.  Beyond attending the start, Todd and I got to be “musher handlers” this morning.  That means we helped lead a dog team to the start line.  I admit the name sounds odd.  Seems to me the title should be “dog handlers”.  We didn’t have to handle the musher at all. 🙂

We assisted Anjanette Steer with her team.  Anjanette is a rookie to the Iditarod.  Her husband, Zack, has run the race several times.  Now it’s her turn.

Anjanette, Zack and their support team hooked the dogs up to their lines.  The handlers then hooked onto the lines as well.  I think the handlers are really just there to keep the dogs from completely taking off.  The dogs are strong, fast and ready to race. It was all I could do to run in ankle deep snow and keep up with them.  All the meanwhile thinking, “whatever I do, don’t step on the dogs feet!”  We were very clearly told not to step on the dogs.  You can imagine why – we don’t want to injure a dog’s foot before the race even begins.

With Anjanette up front, we led the team down 4th Avenue to the start line.  After reaching the line, Anjanette boarded her sled, we unhooked our lines and waited for the count down.  3 – 2 – 1 – They were off!  It’s absolutely amazing to watch these dogs run.  They are incredible athletes.

Today’s portion of the race through Anchorage was ceremonial.  The official start is tomorrow afternoon, March 4th, in the town of Willow.  We’ll be following and cheering Anjanette on her nearly 1,000 mile journey.  You can follow Anjanette and all the other mushers at iditarod.com

Weekend Update

So I’ve mentioned that Todd and I have been taking the kids to enjoy the different Fur Rondy activities.  What is Fur Rondy you may ask?  It’s actually short for Fur Rendezvous and it’s the winter festival here in Anchorage.  This is the 77th year for the Rondy and it, “is built around the celebration when miners and trappers would come to town to resupply and sell their goods and do a little celebrating.”

The first activity we did with the kids was dog sledding.  One of the kennels in the area gives rides in one of the local parks.  I’m a dog lover and have always admired sled dogs and their athleticism and endurance.  This was a huge treat to actually ride on a sled!

Later that weekend we took the kids to see the snow sculptures, the model trains at the Alaska Railroad and finally we capped the weekend off with a carriage ride through downtown.

The 40th Iditarod race begins next weekend and Todd and I did get out by ourselves and attended a reception for some of the mushers.  We met and had our picture taken with Dallas Seavey.  He’s a third generation musher.  His grandfather, Dan, helped organize the first Iditarod.  Dallas’ father, Mitch Seavey, has raced the Iditarod 18 times and won once.  This will be Dallas’ 6th time to race the Iditarod and he was last year’s winner of the Yukon Quest, another 1,000 mile dog sled race held in February.  All three generations of Seaveys will be racing this year in celebration of the 40th running of the Iditarod.

Anyway, the picture is complete cornball cheesy, but Dallas was a really good sport about taking his picture with everyone, and it’s just a great picture, cheesy or not.  And no, the fur coats are not ours – they’re props donated by a furrier here in town.

Till next time!

Exciting Weekend Ahead

We have an exciting weekend ahead of us. Fur Rondy, the winter festival here in Anchorage, has begun. There will be two weeks of activities. We’re headed downtown now to check everything out.

The girls have ski lessons this afternoon. They’re getting quite good. I, somewhat against my better judgement, also have a lesson this afternoon. I have horrible knees and shouldn’t be attempting to ski at all; however I don’t want to be the only one in my family not skiing. I just want to travel down the green runs with my kids. Lindsey Vonn has nothing to fear from me.

Tonight, Todd and I are attending a reception for some of the Iditarod mushers. I’m super excited about it. I’ve always been intrigued by the mushers and their sled dog teams. I think it’s the same reason I love the Tour de France – I’m amazed by the stamina and their will to compete under extraordinary circumstances.

Tomorrow we’ll find some more Fur Rondy activities for the whole family to enjoy. I hope you have a great weekend as well, whether you’re in the Lone Star State or the Last Frontier.