After a nice breakfast at Manley Roadhouse, with some of the volunteers
and Vicky Talbot, who finished Iditarod in 2000 and is following
the race this year in her ultralight plane, we flew out to Tanana
with Les Zerbe, Missionary Pilot from Fairbanks. Les
is acquainted with Dean Davis, the Missionary in Ruby (from Douglas
Georgia), who, last year, gave Bill an answer to a prayer and just
enough incentive to keep on going to Nome. Les and his friend, Earl
Malpass, wanted to get some introductions into the villages, so
were willing to fly us out for just expenses. It was a beautiful
day for flying!!
We arrived in Tanana [TANN*nuh*nah] about lunch time and stopped
by the local store/grill for some burgers before we walked the rest
of the way into town and the checkpoint, about a mile walk from
the airport. Once at the checkpoint, we saw a few of the same folks
from last night. Cali King was surrounded by reporters and kids
wanting musher cards; Debbie
Moderow was sleeping on top of her sled while her dogs rested; Peter
Bartlett was tending his team; Frank Silher was bootying his team
getting ready to leave. Ben Stamm came in while we were there. Most
of the others from Tuesday night in Manley had not arrived yet such
as Karen Land, G.B. Jones, and Blake Matray. We were told that Lance
Barve had scratched.
After walking around the checkpoint, snapping photos and talking
to a few, we walked back to the airport. Luckily we were able to
hitch a ride part way there with the lady who runs the Elder Center.
That saved some time. Our next stop was to be Ruby. We flew low
along the huge Yukon River and passed over many teams camped out.
We thought we spotted Lynda Plettner's purple sled bag and I am
pretty sure I saw Mike Williams. There were also many teams moving
along the river towards
Ruby. When we arrived, there were four teams in the checkpoint,
Robert Sorlie, who was already getting ready to leave, Jeff King,
John Baker and Martin Buser. John and Jeff were tending their teams
while Martin's dogs were sleeping. Martin was inside the checkpoint
sleeping himself. There were reporters from Channel 2 and 11 as
well as the Outdoor Channel swarming around interviewing these guys
while they were very busy already with their checkpoint chores.
Stephen Drake, IditaSupport member, was in Ruby working as a Checker's
Assistant, sweeping up straw and other odd jobs and enjoying every
As the sun began to color the skies with pinks and oranges, Robert
Sorlie was first to leave the checkpoint. A short time later, Ramy
Brooks pulled in. He was still tending his dogs when we had to leave
although he did take time to speak.
We flew back to Manley where the decision was made for me to fly
on to Fairbanks with Les and Earl and leave Bill in Manley. Bill
is going to attempt to drive our truck back even though the engine
seems to be having second thoughts about making it all the way.
The Samaurai Sprint Team truck was seen around Manley and Bill spoke
to Michie who is going to drive back to Fairbanks about 10AM on
Thursday. Bill will leave about 9AM and Michie will keep an eye
out for a stranded motorist in a Cool Dreams pickup truck. As we
loaded all of my things into the plane, the northern lights began
to glow in the sky. Flying back with the green aurora blowing in
the solar winds was a special treat. As I write, I am in the Zerbe's
guest house waiting on news tomorrow on Bill and the truck saga.
Good luck to all the mushers still out there tonight. God bless
all those dogs, may their trails be good ones.