Today the plan was to take off for Ruby early. After saying goodbye
to Lynn and Jeremiah, Earl
needed a piece of stovepipe for warming his plane so a quick stop
at AIH, Alaska Industrial Hardware, took care of that. Next stop,
the airport, and we were off. The weather was great, even warm for
interior Alaska. It is always amazing to be in the air, looking
for miles and miles and miles, over tundra and mountains, and not
seeing a road, house or another airplane for hours. I always have
to wonder just how much of that wide-open space is untouched by
human footprints. The beauty of Alaska is so awesome.
We landed gently on the airstrip in Ruby with Earl at the controls.
The pastor in town, and a friend of Earl’s, Tim Ungry, met
us with his pickup truck. That was a blessing as the walk into town
is over a mile. We transferred all our gear into the back of the
truck and dropped it off at their home, met the family: wife Lisa,
daughters Emily and Naomi, son Timmy and little Bonnie. Next we
headed over to the checkpoint.
runner, Kjetil Backen was long gone when we arrived and Charlie
Boulding was soon to pull out. Among the sleeping mushers in the
Community Center were John Baker, Mitch Seavey, Martin Buser and
Rick Swenson. Ramey Smyth was parked in the afternoon sun, as was
rookie, Hugh Neff. Most of our afternoon was spent wandering amongst
the teams, but not too close, while taking photographs. A most pleasant
surprise was being invited to lunch with local residents, Annie
and Don Honea, Jr. Annie had made some wonderful soup and sandwiches
As the afternoon wound down, mushers booted up their teams and
headed down the slope
to hit the mighty Yukon River. After Charlie Boulding pulled his
hook, next to go was John Baker. A short while later Martin Buser
blasted out and then Mitch Seavey. Susan Butcher was out and about,
talking to everyone. Sonny Linder’s team was resting. Jeff
King stayed until 6:05PM and rode into the sunset on what he calls
his new OMS, old man’s sled. More teams pulled into Ruby,
such as Aily Zirkle and Bill Cotter. The checkpoint was bustling
with activity as planes flew in and out and mushers came and went.
After Earl helped a pilot who was having some plane difficulties,
he picked us up to go back to the Unger’s home for dinner.
While we were sitting around the dinner table, some of the next
mushers expected in were Joe Garnie and Melanie Gould.
Checkpoint Web Cam (refresh often)