Monday, March 18, 2013

Nome: A Final Day

I'm back home and very happy to be with my husband and kids, to be in my beautiful home, and to have all the fresh fruit and vegetables I want! Groceries, and particularly anything fresh, is about twice the price of what I would have to pay locally. I'm actually busy getting us ready for a family trip that begins later this week, but here's a final Nome post, of my last day there and some random bits of this and that.

The Nome House, circa 1973

The Nome House, 2013
(the old car was definitely cooler)

One of the oddest parts of the trip was staying in my old home. It was old then, and it's older now. I was shocked at how the rooms had shrunk from the spaces I have held in my memories. And walking through the rooms, fixing meals, sleeping in the house at night and waking up to the sound of snow machines racing down the street in the morning - all very strange indeed I tell you!

And the most exciting part of the trip was watching Travis complete the 1,000 mile race, 
with the wonderful surprise of seeing him propose to his girlfriend Sarah right afterwards.

I've been asked if he carried the ring the entire way from Anchorage, and that was a question I voiced myself as I saw him get down on his knee. Later I got the scoop: Travis had called his dad from McGrath asking him to get a ring and bring it to Nome. Later on the day of his finish, as we waited for him to pass just a few miles from the finish line, his mom Susie stood poised to pass off the ring! (A couple minutes later Travis accidentally dropped it and he had to stop his team to dig around in the snow to find it. Luckily he did and it didn't hamper his efforts to beat a musher in front of him to the finish.)

McGrath, 289 miles into the race, where Travis made the decision!

Other Facts about Travis's Race that Surprised Me:

1. He could sometimes read while racing, sitting on the sled seat. The book he was making his way through before falling asleep (only to awake and find he'd dropped it) was 'The Call of the Wild.' How appropriate!

2. Mushers do fall asleep as they move down the trail. When you stop to think about it, you realize, oh duh, of course. Extreme lack of sleep and endless trail ahead. But I'm also surprised they all seem to get through these periods without serious ramifications.

3. The amount of work at the checkpoints, focusing on the care of the dogs. This includes laying hay out for them to sleep on, feeding them and melting water on a camp stove, removing their booties and putting on their coats. The dogs get massaged, with any special needs being addressed and meeting with the vet. Only after all this could he think about his own food and sleep.

4. The food: Finding lasagna in the drop box was cause for celebration, the burritos were a mistake and, to my surprise, much of the food consisted of items such as pies and cinnamon rolls. The dogs apparently eat much better than the mushers.

5. It's easy to get lost. Travis lost the trail once and after several miles of not seeing any markers he retraced his progress until he found the right way. Apparently my younger brother had been tracking his movement on the Iditarod Insider GPS Tracker and had seen Travis's marker veer away from the trail - yelling at him via the computer monitor to turn around! 

6. Travis set an all time speed record for one leg of the race, clocking in at over 11 mph, with him setting two other speed records for the 2013 race. (Mushers average about 8 mph.) So all he has to do, in his words, is make his layovers more efficient! (And IMO, eat better!)

7. The Trail Sweeper is needed because a lot of stuff gets lost. Travis's wind pants were grabbed out of his hands one day by, of course, the blistering wind! He almost lost the ring and his first ski pole was dropped when he dozed off and another broke. Luckily he found another one abandoned later down the trail, the one he used in his push into Nome. So... books, pants, ski poles and nearly a ring. The Trail Sweep apparently has a big job to do.

The day after Travis's finish we all gathered at the burled arch for family photos.

The happy couple, colorful in their Columbia jackets. 
(hum, sponsorship opportunity?)

Apparently my parents, brothers and I obeyed  the "all black" memo...

 ... while I can't quite say what memo this group got, 
a creative bunch waiting on the sidelines for their opportunity to pose at the finish line once we were done!

And that is Nome. I'll be back for another race and definitely during the summer months one of these years with my family. I've definitely been reminded, "There's No Place Like Nome."


  1. Perfect post to end this story. I love the details of Travis's trials and tribulations..and the ring pass-off. I wondered if he had carried it the entire trip. Thanks for this wonderful story Janell. Enjoy home and fresh food!
    xo Nancy

  2. What a great story and exciting adventure for all of you.

  3. The two commenters above me said it perfectly. Thanks, Janell. Will be looking forward to hearing details about the wedding now!

  4. What an incredible trip and adventure! Loved learning more about the race, too. So fascinating!

  5. What an incredible experience! I need to do this!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this story. Your family must be very proud of Travis (a great name by the way)I have really enjoyed reading about such an amazing race & travelling along with you & seeing such a beautiful part of Alaska from my armchair.


  7. I think those guys in the last couple of pictures are doing the Harlem Shake. But I digress, very interesting story. I love to hear about different parts of this big country. Congrats to your brother and his fiance.

  8. This was amazing to read. I had no idea about the sleep and the interesting food choices. You must be so happy to be in your warm, cozy, and beautiful home. It just looks so darn cold in that family shot. . . and sort of wishing you had gotten them memo from the other group! Good luck packing this week, mighty traveler!

  9. What a wonderful trip! So happy for you that you were able to go and thanks for sharing with all of us!

  10. This is a wonderful post, i'm terribly inquisitive about reading this.. Its terribly useful yo North American nation..keep posting such a noteworthy front doors

  11. That was the coolest series of posts that I have ever seen on a design blog! ;) I'm so glad you were able to enjoy that experience with your family. Congratulations to your brother and his fiancé!

  12. You had the Harlem Shake happening right in front of your eyes!

  13. I just read through all of your Nome posts and it looks like you had such a wonderful time! I am still amazed by all those mushers who are out in the cold for that long, and those dogs?!? They are so beautiful and strong. What a fabulous trip Travis had- those engagement photos had me tearing up!


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