Brenda's 2003 Daily Iditarod Coverage
Countdown to Iditarod 2003 Restart — Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
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March 5, 2003
Flying from Manley Hot Springs to Tanana, Ruby Checkpoints.

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 minute.

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.


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