MAR 7, 14 (Part 4) .. THE 2014 IDITAROD – IV

Well .. here we are at Part IV .. the final post of this series about The Iditarod 2014!

Beginning at 10AM on the first Saturday in the month of March .. a sled dog team with its IditaRider in the sled (‘Zilla remember that the IditaRider only rides 11 miles and does NOT ride to Nome!) is released every two (2) minutes to begin its trip down the Iditarod Trail from Anchorage Alaska to Nome Alaska.

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After the teams leave the starting line .. they head 5 city-blocks East (in the direction to the right of the above photo) down 4th Avenue until they  reach Cordova Street.  The teams then turn right and head South down Cordova Street.

As you are about to see in the photos below .. one of the very best locations to see the sled dog teams LIVE and I mean UP-CLOSE! is at the intersection of Cordova Street with 15th Avenue.  This is an absolutely exceptional viewing point because .. for one thing .. there is a large parking lot at the church located on the corner which can accomodate the many vehicles belonging to Iditarod race viewers.

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Then you have wonderful church volunteers who are on hand to serve hot coffee and other snacks to the crowd that gathers to watch the mushers. This is an annual-happening for the church at this intersection !  Below are photographs of the church and of the intersection with Cordova Street and 15th Avenue.

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Looking past the above sign into the distance .. just feast your eyes on the beauty of Anchorage Alaska!

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15th Avenue is a major East-West thoroughfare in Anchorage. Patti and I live basically straight ahead down 15th Avenue.  In several of the above and the below photographs PLEASE NOTE THE ABSENCE OF SNOW on the road surfaces!  As I have also illustrated in the photographs in Part I of this series of 4 posts .. there was basically NO SNOW on the roads during the week preceding the Iditarod.

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The two photos immediately below were taken looking 90 Degrees to the left of the photo above and North up Cordova Street.

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My-Oh-My! The transformation that the City of Anchorage crews manage when we have little snow on the streets is almost beyond one’s imagination!

Are You Ready!? ..  I Mean Are You Ready for some SNOW!?

The mushers and the sled dogs sure are!

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Well?  Have you been wondering .. “Where are the sled dog teams IN ACTION?”

HERE THEY COME!

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MUSH!  MUSH YOU SLED DOGS!

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“Yes ‘Zilla?!”

“Why don’t I write .. ‘MUSH!  MUSH YOU HUSKIES!’ .. like Sergeant William Preston of the North-West Mounted Police used to say to his lead sled dog, Yukon King! Back on radio in the late 1930s and into the 1940s.” Instead of writing MUSH! MUSH YOU SLED DOGS!

As usual ‘Zilla .. another excellent question!

“Yes ‘Zilla?!” “Cap .. Some of the sled dogs look a little bit like plain-ordinary mutts!”

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‘Zilla this is so true. Some of the best sled dogs (study the one brown sled dog above and compare it with the beautiful husky in the foreground!) resemble your traditional mutt!  Due to the extreme competitive nature of the human species and of sled dog drivers (a lot of them call themselves Dog Drivers and NOT Mushers) many of the dogs have been bred for speed and extreme endurance. One aspect of this specialized breeding is the short-haired sled dog.

Several more mutt-looking sled dogs! John Baker WON the Iditarod in 2011.  “Mush You Mutts!” John .. in-my-book .. you rank right-up-there as one of the Best Ever human beings I’ve been associated with!

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Short hair is an advantage over the thick fur of the traditional Alaska Huskies because the dogs with short hair can run much cooler and not over heat like their thick-coated ancestors.  However sometimes the mushers cover the short haired sled dogs with ‘doggie coats’ when they encounter severe cold.

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Lord Love A Duck!  Will you just-look-below at Musher Karen Ramstead and her ‘traditional’ team of huskies!  They are so beautiful and so traditional!

AND HOW ABOUT THOSE ‘BOOTIES’! And Karen .. I love their ‘neck kerchiefs’ .. 

The below photo is one of my absolute favorites that I was able to capture this year!

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Katherine Keith shown below also has quite a beautiful and traditional team of huskies!

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Sled Dogs decked out in their ‘booties’ .. Go Alex Buetow!

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Hugh Neff below is a well-known musher and a bit-of-a-character.  Can you tell?

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Are you all noticing the Idita-Riders in the sleds?

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OK!  The time-has-come for me to move to the Chester Creek Trail and the final photos of this post for all of us to see.

Below are several additional photos of the ‘scene’ at the intersection of Cordova with 15th Avenue.  I am in my truck facing East on 15th Avenue.

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To refresh your memories .. a repeat photo of what this intersection looks like during a normal day!

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Do all of you ‘see-the-big-difference’?  Oh Yes .. THE Iditarod is a major event every March here in Anchorage Alaska!

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Patti’s condo is very close to the Chester Creek Trail.  The below photos were taken along this trail and provide you with a final LIVE AND CLOSE UP look at the sled dog teams!

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In the below photo notice that a few of the sled dogs are wearing ‘doggie coats’.  Look closely at the lead dog looking intensely at me!  We are so close we could reach out and touch the sled dogs.  For this reason you MUST be very still and calm so as not-to-frighten or upset the dog teams.  These lads and lassies (Oh Yes .. female sled dogs run the race also!) can be very ‘skitterish’!

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The one lead dog below .. even though he is still a considerable distance from me .. is looking straight-at-me .. perhaps wondering .. “What? Another human photographer! I can’t wait until we get out onto the real trail all-by-ourselves!”

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No doubt about it!  Some of the sled dogs are noticing their surroundings.

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And?

THAT’S IT FOLKS! THE RACE HAS PASSED US BY!

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Oh-My what an adventure this has been.  It has taken me ten days (count them .. 10-days!) to get this series of four posts put together and finalized.

I have made so many changes and additions to each of the four posts (especially the first two!) you would not believe it!

In closing I want to say again ..

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH PATTI!

Thank you Patti for helping to proof-read .. and to re-proof-read .. and to? .. Do it all over again! .. And? .. Oh-My-Yes .. all over yet again!

AND Thank you Patti and Thank you Eryn (Patti’s beloved neice) for letting me use your library cards so that I could enjoy three (count them .. 3) sessions each day on the computer at the Loussac library to put this enormous post together! 

With Much Joy and With Much Love To You All .. Cap AND YES! .. Patti!