Saturday, March 7, 2009

Winding up the Musher's Banquet

I was in a good position to get video of Lance drawing his position for the start:

After the mushers leave the stage they are fair game for autograph seekers and fans wanting pictures. Lance is like a rock-star up here and sought by people from all over. I hustled over to where he was working the crowd with the Larry and Zorro patches. I was flogging them right by Lance and sold about 30 to fans as they were leaving. Some folks had been looking for me get patches, so it was great timing.

More of the Musher's Banquet

Now inside the banquet hall and at my table:

My table was down in the center four rows back from the stage, very nice:

Immediately behind me at the next table towards the front was Libby Riddles. She's the first woman to win the Iditarod. She won in 1985.

The Musher's Banquet

I'm running a day behind on posts, but bear with me. I'll catch-up. Last night (Thurs.) was the Musher's Banquet when they draw their starting positions and mingle with the fans. Here are some highlights:

Inside the new Convention Center where the banquet was held, I caught Lance obliging fans:

This was of course just the beginning of the evening.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Vet Check in Wasilla

Before asking, no, I didn't see Sarah Palin. Just some of her old faded campaign signs and a few about lipstick and pitbulls....oh well.

Helen has graciously given over her time and vehicle to become the Texas Taxi for me and Betty Waldon, another Iditarod infected Texan. Here we are arriving at Iditarod HQ for the Vet Check.

The Vet-Check takes place in the parking lot of the Iditarod Trail Committee head quarters. The HQ houses offices, a meeting room, a small museum of the race and a swell gift shop. My trip shopping began here and there was lots of pretty cool swag. I bought several books, dog booties, the trail map, the 2009 program and an ITC logo patch.

Among the trophies, displays and memorabilia was a curious and poignant relic from the 1925 Serum Run to Nome. Inside a large glass case, stuffed and mounted was Leonard Seppala's great lead dog, Togo. A touchstone of an event nearly lost now to living memory but one of the greatest sagas of the 20th century.

Greeting visitors outside is the Joe Redington Sr. memorial. The Iditarod trophy is a minature version of this statue and the headlamp really lights up.

Outside temps were just under 20', so the HQ offered a nice warm-up while shopping and studying the displays. We were beginning to think about heading out for lunch as we had seen several dog teams come through and it looked like Lance was not going to be here today. But then, as we were walking out who should drive up but Team Mackey. Yee-Haw!

We were right at the spot where Lance parked and before he could get out of the truck the crowd started to gather. I did have the presence of mind to start recording. I took the following video just as Lance started to drop dogs for their vet check. Larry is the dog that just walks around loose. He is so cool, enjoy.

Oh, I got to meet Lance, too. Great guy! I overheard some say to Lance, "I think she's more excited to meet Larry than you." Lance replied, "That's the way it should be."

I've worked with the famous and semi-famous during my years knocking around backstage. I've loaded guns for Howard Keel, bought fruit for Van Johnson, been on a video shoot with Willy Nelson, built stages for Shamu the Killer Whale and never felt any excitement for performers.

Lance Mackey has me star-struck.

Note: he's wearing a Larry Appreciation Society patch.

It has been the most enjoyable of days and one of my goals has been accomplished. I met Larry. Not only met but got kissed by him. A big wet sloppy one.

I hung around for a good long while and wached the newspaper photographer take pictures of Lance and Larry. This was published in the Anchorage Daily News the next day. Great portrait!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Arrived and tired

I've flown from San Antonio to Houston, Houston to Seattle and finally Seattle to Anchorage. Each stop was fairly short and I didn't have to try to run across the airport to make my next flight.
Cousin Lisa made it easy for me.

At the Seattle airport I switched carriers to Alaska Airlines. At the gate I met Jan & Walt Tremer who were on the same plane to Anchorage. I feel like I know them already because of all the chatter on the Idita-Support mail list. They were wearing their Larry & Zorro patches on their parkas. I guess I can expect to meet alot of folks wearing them.

At 6:30 pm Anchorage time, I arrived. Tired from sitting nearly immobilized in cramped airline seats for almost 10 hours. I found my friend Helen who came to meet me and she had my two trunks that I had shipped here two weeks ago. Hooray! I'm checked into my hotel room and have had a hot bowl of soup for dinner. I'm set for going to Wasilla for the Vet Check tomorrow.

Its about 20' and there is snow on the ground. Its cold and I'm having flashbacks to 1971.

More tomorrow,