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Saturday, March 20, 2004 - Nome
10° windy, gray overcast, light snow falling
It's 7:30 a.m. and I peeked outside to check on Ellie's team. They're still sleeping, wearing their fleece and supplex wind jackets, snuggled under their blankets and a light coating of snow. We haven't heard a sound out of her eleven dogs. They've all been eating, drinking, snacking and sleeping.
The same goes for Ellie. She's been showering, eating and napping, but also greeting the newly arrived mushers at the finish line. Her face is looking better. We think she is allergic to the sun and was suffering blisters and swelling, but the winds and blowing snow on the last leg did the trick. I call it her Norton Sound facial. She's looking much better now.
Today is the Business Person's Sled Dog Race sponsored by the Nome Kennel Club. Today is also the Bering Sea Golf Classic and I've seen the argyle socks and bunny boots around town. This afternoon will be the big musher autograph party at the Mini Convention Center and Sunday is the big Musher's Banquet. We plan to take a commercial flight out of here late on Sunday night. That will leave more room in Paul's Otter for all of our camping gear and the provisions still stashed in Unalakleet.
I spent time yesterday afternoon helping Leo Rasmusser and David Schwantas cancel the Trail Mail from the race. All of the cachets (envelopes carried by the mushers over the race trail) are stamped and canceled in Anchorage and again in Nome. The cachets are then sold as a fund-raiser for the Nome Kennel Club and Iditarod. I was honored to have the privilege to have designed this year's cachet. I feel a part of me has traveled the trail with each musher. I also did a cachet for Ellie, which she'll use for her race thank yous. I think she may also be selling some cachets on her web site (check for a link from Sled Dog Central) after she returns from Nome.
After breakfast at Fat Freddy's we saw Gregg Bill and a few helpers starting to take down the finish line sponsor's banners. Activities around town are winding down and most Alaska Airlines flights are fully booked.
Ellie's team will fly home tomorrow morning with her grandmother. The word is that it's -38° at their lodge and they're fully booked with mountain skiers for the following week. The Claus family will have to shift gears quickly and get back to work.
We all feel that way. Jeff King's wife, Donna Gates, said they're happy with Jeff's second place finish because they can get back home right away. Mitch Seavey will have many obligations to fulfill through the year.
I'd like to take a moment to thank all the patient folks who helped me get my stories to this web site. Each checkpoint offered it's own challenges, sometimes everything fell into place other times it was a challenge, but people were always willing to offer assistance.
So many readers, I still plan to fill in the blanks with the ceremonial start and restart stories when we return home. I hope you enjoyed traveling the trail with us.
Thank you again,
Happy Trails Jon and Jona
For more information about Ellie and her home at Ultima Thule Lodge you can visit their web site at www.ultimathulelodge.com
More information about Ellie Claus can be found on the Iditarod web site www.iditarod.com
©2004 Jon & Jona Van Zyle
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