What an emotional morning!
After leaving the house early this morning Chris, Karolyn and I set up the dog lot for our buddies. We set out the kennels, stuffed them full of straw and laid out warm blankets and fleece throws. We had some beef and salmon snacks thawed and soaked kibble with meat chunks standing by.
The rest of the crew drove out at the road crossing where the teams come off the Nome-Council Road onto the Baring Sea ice about five miles out of town to silently cheer them on. Barbara got these amazing shots of the team in the sunrise.
Hearing the siren was such a relief and it summonsed everyone outside to watch the team come up Front Street. A State Trooper sits at the bottom of the street and sets the flashing lights going on his vehicle as the teams come up onto the road from the sea so we get a few minutes to enjoy watching them come towards us.
The cheers started as the crowd acknowledged and appreciated what Aliy and the dogs has just achieved. The well known “Aliy! Aliy! Aliy!” chant broke out as they crossed under the arch.
Aliy had Mismo and Scout in lead, Scruggs and Dutch in swing, Willie and Chemo, Izzy and Chipper, Kodiak and Waylon, Schmoe, then Sandy and Commando. They were very animated as they came up the chute, looking around at all the supporters and looking pretty proud of themselves.
The very first thing Aliy did was go down the line of her mates to thank and praise each of them and she sought out her Mom and Dad then each of us for a hug. She had her mandatory gear checked and officially signed into the checkpoint when a scrum of reporters gathered around her to get their pictures, videos and words. I caught some of what she said:
“It was really hard this year, really hard. Physically and emotionally but I guess that’s life itself. People have been really supportive. When people go through stuff in their life, which everyone does, I can count on myself and my dogs, so that’s kinda what I did.
Then Alaska talked back, and every checkpoint I went through everyone was so supportive. I couldn’t just be with myself, turned out I was with everyone!
I moved them [the dogs] around; everyone was a slacker once in a while, every dog was a great dog once in a while, every dog got a little chiding from me once in a while, and a “good dog”. I was the same way, I was a slacker too. It just got to show you that a team… I kept thinking about my team, there were no “All Stars”, no-one I really pressed, but they all came through at different times and I guess that what I really wanted… and we did it!”
Aliy spent a little time thanking her supporters and shaking some hands before Mickey, Doug, Kaz, Sam and Barbara whisked her home for some eggs, coffee, a shower then bed. We won’t hear form her for a few hours!
Meanwhile, the vet team was waiting for us once we got the dogs to the dog lot and we stripped them (the dogs) of their harnesses and jackets for their thorough exam. With so many vets involved it was a really quick process and we were able to get them dressed in fresh jackets, fed their dinner and into bed within about 20 minutes. Every dog got their feet massaged as they settled in for a snooze in the sun and just as we left we covered them all in their blankets to make them extra cozy.
Thank you to the lovely ladies that gave us the roses! I am so sorry I didn’t get your names but they are absolutely gorgeous and Aliy will present them to her team when she next goes down to see them. They deserve winners’ roses even if they didn’t cross the line first.
There are a bunch of great photos from Jeff Schultz and the Insider video on the Iditarod website, pictures and videos we have been tagged in on Facebook, and several news agencies have covered Aliy’s arrival.
She even got a news banner on the Today Show (right)! Thanks Tiffany for capturing the moment.
Before we left the dog lot we snapped a few pictures. They are not moving much today.
The team will be very safe, secure and looked over 24 hours a day until they fly home. The Dog Lot is manned by wonderful officials and volunteers and we know they will keep a keen eye on them. We will visit several times a day to feed them, massage them and just to chat with them.