Thursday, February 28, 2008

Vet Check and Happy Trails Kennel

Hey, I see my postings DID come here. OK, that's s relief. Wireless here is expensive and elusive, so I'll do my best. I have some free time today to explore around downtown Anchorage. Might take in some Fur Rhondy exhibits and hoopla, some shops, maybe the Bear and Raven Theatre or the Museum.

BUT yesterday Vet Check was incredible. I am going to run out of descriptive words. Lance was ALL THAT AND MORE. He is so incredibly real and a bundle of enthusiastic energy, truly an 'energizer bunny'. He is eating up this attention with the media and fans, but in a humble way. He got a cell phone call while talking to the press, answered it casually, and did some quick directions to whomever it was, and grinned and said, "Gotta run, here, I'm busy doing this RockStar bit", hung up and was right back to interviews, personal conversations with fans, picture taking, and autograph signing, while not skipping a beat of grabbing the dogs out of their boxes, nuzzling them and gently lowering them to tie them for the vets to check. His eye contact and ability to make each person feel like he is talking right to them is amazing. His dogs look great, and all got a total bill of health for the Iditarod, even one that Lance had some doubts about because of cut/split in a foot pad. His foot is healing perfectly.

Some other mushers I saw were Lachlan Clark, Eric Rogers, the Frekkings, Zoya Denure, Cindy Gallea, and Ed Striela(sp?). It was fun watching the detail and quickness of the volunteer vets, and how much they were enjoying their job.

Martin Buser, of course, also impressed me, when we visited his kennel yesterday afternoon. He has a grand sense of humor. I asked him if that sense of humor left him when he was in sleep deprived and exhausting situations on the trail and he belly laughed, "Oh, that's when the sense of humor revs up on high, it has to." He gave us some strategies he and Rohn were planning, but I don't believe a word of it. He clearly keeps his real plans close to the chest.

Add an evening of fresh Halibut, stuffed with King Crab, encrusted in macadamia nuts and a couple of drinks with my new Iditarod Buddies, and Heaven can't get any better than this!

By the way, Frozen C, are you in Anchorage? Better show your face if you are!

Mush on,

Surviving the wireless drought

Hi guys, I am here and wrote the most awsome blog yesterday, only to have it disappear into internet oblivion. Service is very spotty, so I'm only going to do shorter blogs until I am sure it's posting correctly. My first full day here was beyond a dream! My roommates are awesome and we feel like we have know each other for years. After a good night's sleep on Tuesday, we were full tilt into Iditarod preliminaries on Wednesday, attending Vet Check, spending time with Zoya DeNure, and a Lot of time with Yukon Quest and Iditarod Champion Lance Mackey. I am still floating from that! More about that later. From their we had lunch with 7 of the Iditasupport folks in Wasilla, and then went out to Happy Trails Kennel for a whole afternoon there with Martin and Rohn Buser and their dogs and family. The dogs are amazing, and as everyone has often reported, the mushers so real and approachable. We had such a great conversation about race strategy with Martin before the rest of a tour group arrived.

Right now, I have to be off to a meeting with my tour group. Jon and the BSSD kids are supposed to be here with Gatekeeper and I at the Snow City Cafe any minute. I hope they get here before I have to leave for my meeting. It's like Gatekeeper and I are sisters, our parallels are amazing. I'll stop now to finish my breakfast, but will be back with more about yesterday's adventure.

For you who haven't been here yet, it is much more than I could ever dream of, and I haven't even seen the start of the race yet! On to the meeting.

Mush on,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm Finally in Alaska!

Here are Jeanie B (VA), Karen F (WA), Kim B. (WA), and Mary C. (NJ) enjoying my first day at the Millenium, Iditarod Headquarters. The 'dropped dog yard' is outside the window, in the background.
Sometimes we have a dream, and the dream is enough. Sometimes you have to live it. I am sure some of the mushers may say that about competing in and completing the Iditarod, but for me it is just to be here and suck up the enthusiasm. I left Virginia this morning at 6:30 am EST and it is now 8 pm Alaska time (4 hour time difference), so my brain is partially fried, but Oh, it has been an amazing day.

The skies were clear over Montana, so I got my 'fix' of those magnificent Rockies. Landing in Seattle, Mt. Ranier and Mt. St. Helens loomed snow covered in the distant. Flying up to Anchorage from there was mostly cloudy, but the skies opened for a view of the Kenai Penninsula, and the mountains, fjords, and glaciers from the air, a terrific invite. All connections worked like clockwork, and my bags arrived in one piece. And, yes, the little suitcase COULD contain all the gear I will need to keep warm on my adventures. I had to toss my polypropaline long underwear, but I have a lot of layers besides that.

My friends at home seem to think my extreme interest a bit odd, but by the time I got on the plane at Cincinnati, I met a number of other East coast travelers with their Iditarod logo prominent, and had conversations from that point on about who was moving up in the mushing world, and 'are you going to Nome' and 'How many years have you volunteered?' and 'Thirteen years! That's terrific!' I met two of my roommates at the airport in Anchorage, and we have had about 5 hours now to bond, but it only took about 10 minutes. I ran into Rudy in Cincinnati, and have seen him already four or five times, and Kime, who e-mailed me last week about how to get to Rainy Pass, she ended up eating dinner with us. This mushing family is a tight knit group, and I am in my Heaven! Every conversation is about huskies, or Alaska, or the next event, or the chances of various mushers.

Did I say this place is beautiful?! The snow covered Chugach Mountains rim around the city. I've only been from the airport to the Millenium so far, and the views were great. Right now I am so tired I can't hold my eyes open. Karen, Mary, Kim, and I had a great meal and a few beers in the Fancy Moose Bar downstairs at the hotel. The lobby is full of stuffed animals of Alaska, and everyone is talking race. Pam will be here in the middle of the night, so I need to catch a few winks. I did get a chance to pick my top ten picks for the race, so I'll post them tomorrow. If some of this doesn't make sense, or spelling is awry, but my eyes are partially closed. I'll be up bright and early in the morning, but it's crash time now!

Mush on!

On My Way

Alright, JeanieB (and we are soon to have a discussion about where this moniker came from, it is so far away from your real name) here I am. sitting in the Eugene airport, waiting for the first leg of my flight to Anchorage. Saying good-bye to my little Sibe was the hardest thing I ever did (My husband KNOWS I'll be back). she smiled and wagged her tail, doesn't know what all this extra attention is for, but gee, it's terrific!
I am so excited! This is not my first trip, but I will be volunteering with the ITC for the first time, looking forward to meeting a bunch of people that I only know from their internet postings, and I am terribly excited! I will also get to to to Nome and see the finish.
There are so many people on their way to Anchorage this week. Just check the postings at the various sites. It seems we all are on our own journey, our trails wind together and apart. For me, I marvel at the dogs, their ability and athleticism, and the people who love them enough to care for them and share their lives.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Two weeks until the Last Great Race begins! Note that today Lance Mackey, defending Iditarod and Yukon Quest champion, leads the Yukon Quest more than halfway through that great 1000+ mile race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse. It is a CLOSE race this year, with Ken Anderson right up there with him. To follow the 2nd half of the Yukon Quest, go to their new, beautifully updated site, and click on race updates.

This is when I start to decide who I am going to select for my TTP's (top ten picks) for the Iditarod. I am for sure at a loss this year, as there are too many I want to root for to pick just 10. Lance was amazing last year, but can he do it again? Is his breeding program, or dog relationship, truly a cut above? I'm thinking, yeah. Some others on my list, Jeff King, Paul Gephart, Robert Sorlie, John Baker, Ed Iten, Mitch Seavey, Jessica Royer, Aaron Burmeister, Zach Steer, Ken Anderson, Martin Buser, DeeDee Jonrowe, and Ali Zirkle. I might have missed a few. When I decide, I'll post my TTP over at the BSSD site on the forum, where the winner wins an Iditarod Hat! I'll narrow my list after consulting my 'intuitive self'.


There are certainly others, but here are some websites to check out to educate yourself about the Iditarod, and follow the race. Remember, the Ceremonial Start in in Anchorage on March 1st this year, and the actual start will be on March 2nd in Willow. Two weeks from today!


Books to Whet Your Appetite for Alaska

For years I have admired the mushing community from afar. Some of the best books I have read, ones that took me there in my Alaskan Fantasy adventures were the following:
  1. WINTERDANCE by Gary Paulsen - The ultimate in Iditarod reading. He gives us the joy and agony, and you will laugh yourself silly reading it. Still my favorite!

  2. WOODSONG by Gary Paulsen - The young adult version of his dog-sledding adventures.

  3. BACKSTAGE IDITAROD by June Price - Great introduction if you are new to the sport, or adjunct to all you know already if you are a "Fan"atic, or preparing to attend.

  4. RUNNING WITH CHAMPIONS: A MIDLIFE JOURNEY ON THE IDITAROD TRAIL by Lisa Fredrick - Wonderful story or her journey from Jeff King's dog handler, to running the race herself.

  5. ONE SECOND TO GLORY: THE ALASKAN ADVENTURES OF IDITAROD CHAMPION DICK MACKEY by Lew Freedman - Talk about someone with TALL tales, it's hard to tell fact from stretching the truth, but it doesn't matter. This is a fun story, and gives an idea of where current Iditarod and Yukon Quest champion, Lance Mackey gets his gift of gab.

  6. MY LEAD DOG WAS A LESBIAN by Brian Patrick O'Donoghue - Another fun read that takes you on the trail, a way back from the lead pack.

  7. IDITAROD DREAMS by Lew Freedman and DeeDee Jonrowe - DeeDee's story of one year in her Iditarod training and racing. DeeDee has been and will continue to be a great musher and incredible woman.

  8. RACE ACROSS ALASKA by Libby Riddles and Tim Jones - The first woman to win the Iditarod tells the story that started the saying "Alaska, where men are men and women win the Iditarod".

  9. IDITAROD CLASSICS: TALES OF THE TRAIL by Lew Freedman and Jon VanZyle - Jon has painted the scene for each of the Iditarod posters for years, and this book captures the stories and pictures of the Last Great Race.

  10. NO END IN SIGHT: MY LIFE AS A BLIND IDITAROD RACER by Rachael Scdoris and Rick Steber - Rachael has started the race 3 years, and completed the race last year, the first legally blind musher to do so. I have not read this yet, but it's on my list.

  11. ALASKA by James Michener - a bit dated, but intricately researched and brilliantly written to weave a fiction story through the history of Alaska.

  12. ORDINARY WOLVES by Seth Kantner - not about the Iditarod, or mushing, but the most amazing fiction story I have read that chronicles growing up in the bush in the Brooks Range, and the clash of modern culture on the native northern population. Dog teams here were for survival, not pleasure.

  13. NUNAGA: TEN YEARS AMONG THE ESKIMOS by Duncan Pryde - True story of a man who went north to fur trade, and chose to live among the Eskimos. Not in Alaska, but in the Actic. A truly great read.

  14. TWO OLD WOMEN by Velma Wallis - Not about mushing or Alaska, exactly, but a short story and must read legend of native women. Great to read after the previous two books.

  15. MURDER ON THE IDITAROD TRAIL by Sue Henry - Fiction, mystery, and pretty ridiculous story of intrigue that follows the race as mushers are murdered. Read only if you can't find any of the others.

There are so many others, but I only wanted to list books I have read or know about. I know I have read many more, so I will update this list occasionally.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Little Suitcase that Could

Do you remember the story about the little engine that could? My suitcase for Alaska is being asked to do similar super-duty. This makes me wonder how in the world the mushers get all that stuff in their tiny little sleds. Ah-haaaaa, one more thing to check out when I get there. I would love to watch one of them packing their sleds. I do digress. Taking the advice of my Alaskan friends, I am planning to wear multiple layers, with emphasis on wicking and insulation, and avoiding a lot of cotton. The nice part is that silk, wool, and down compress nicely, and that there are "no fashion police in Alaska" according to Sunhusky! Polypropolene, parka's, and pac-boots offer a challenge, though. I have packed two times now, trying to get all in one suitcase, one carryon, and my take-everywhere backpack. That poor little suitcase keeps gasping and begging, "can't I have a helper?" I am determined to just check ONE! Wait a minute; then where am I going to put the stuff I buy in Alaska? Hmmm. Pack an empty duffel; check it on the way home. Or, ship some stuff home before I leave.

OK, Lois, get creative here. Walmart (yuck) here I find compression bags that you vacumm the air out of. OMG, it sucked my outerwear down by 1/2 at least! Pack the underwear in one boot, socks in another, hand and toe heaters in another, rolled up extra garments and gifts for Iditarod friends around the edge, and, by golly, I think I've got it.

"Groannnnn, Streeeeeetch" goes the little suitcase............"I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.............ooooooooo...............I'm closed." Wshhoooo. That's done............Uh, wait a minute.......weight limit is 50 pounds. Off to the bathroom scales (thank God for rolling cases!).
Fifty-two pounds.............."Grooaaannn, don't you dare open me again." What can go? -----

And I haven't even gotten to my carry-on, the cameras, laptop, minimal changes of clothing since I will have three flights to get there, three opportunities to lose the luggage. But, I still have 13 days to figure it all out. I'll let you know on flight day how good I am at keeping it to ONE little suitcase that could.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My growing Iditarod family

Barbara L. and I have become good friends, and she and her husband, Jerry, came by our house last summer to have lunch with Ken and I. We stayed in touch and made plans to go to the race together in 2007, but the sale of the family farm, closing in January, and buying our small dream Deerfield farm made that time too busy. With disappointmet, I postponed my dream for one more year. As it was, Ken and I fell in love with Deerfield, a very remote mountain valley in western Virginia, and were there every weekend working to fix the fences and the house, and I was hitting the auctions for used equipment and furniture. That was also a dream come true, and the timing was perfect, with Ken being in his 1st year of partial retirement. I am so in love with our Deerfield home. I am feeling more and more at one with the earth. To pack both dreams in one year would have lessened the thrill of both. Now we are settled in our farm house, nestled between two gorgeous mountains, with no buildings behind us for miles and miles, and have had a year to share it with many renewed friends from childhood, and others who love the country as much as we do. With this as my 'nest', I am settled in to plan this Iditarod Dream!

I am one lucky person! I have make 275 booties this year. Mine have been mailed to Mike Williams, a native musher who mushes for sobriety. I also made some purple booties for Jessica Royer's ceremonial start. I called Jessica's mother in Montana when I got the idea, and she was wonderfully friendly with suggestions. I made 4 matching bandanas for the lead or wheel dogs, with a "J" on them for the "J-Team".

Now a bit about last year's experience. Having DSL brought me closer to the action, and I signed up for the ITC Insider and became an ITC member. I could catch videos daily, along with web cam of the entire starts, ceremonial and Willow. I never missed a minute, even though I was at my Sister's for dinner during the actual start at Willow on Sunday (sorry, Ellen). It was almost like being there, and sharing the excitement with Cabela's Talk and Idita-support made it more fun. My family ignored me and thought I had gone over the deep end. Throughout the week I followed the action from checkpoint to checkpoint, and this year took the risk of guessing and predicting strategies, as I am beginning to know many of the mushers better. It was so fun to talk to Ryan Redington, Tyrell Seavey, and Mr. Burmeister, the ITC President on the talk forum. Everyone is so down to eath. In 2007, some of my favorite experiences were Frozen Chosen's Iditarod History posts, Sam-a-Tuck's native heritage 'eye view' of the race, and beginning to know the folks on the forums better as real people.

From the beginning, the excitement about the possibility of Lance Mackey winning the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod in the same year intrigued me. I had to choose him as #1 on my Top-Ten-Picks (TTP's). Every day, I couldn't wait to get to work to watch the last video, and could scan and post so quickly, I could hardly imagine how frustrated I had been with dial-up.

Toward the end of the race, I got hooked up with BSSD, the Unalakleet School children's site and their 'lively' live chat. Daniel (This Space For Rent) helped me get the BSSD live chat, and the live feed web video from Nome and the Cabela's talk all open and spaced on my screen. (I'm still a bit virtually challenged). I felt like a computer whiz, and was in Nome Heaven! As it became more and more evident that Lance was going to win, and with bib 13, and in his 6th year, just as his Dad and brother, Rick, the excitement built until I thought I would burst. The nervous excited chatter on BSSD was exhilerating! Here on the east coast, the ending looked to be middle of the night, so I went home to get my comfy clothes and sleeping bag, and back to the office and my DSL for the finish with my Idita-bud Armchair Mushers!

Ohhhhh! What a finish!!!! There was a large bunch of us bantering back and forth on Cabela's and BSSD, but I finally gto the hang of the live chat on BSSD and stayed there for the finish. I has so much sympathy of those folks who had dial up, or weren't getting a good feed. Mine was coming in perfect, so as I watched Lance come across the sea ice toward Nome, I began calling the 'play-by-play', describing every scene, starting when he stopped out on the ice with Nome in sight, got down with each dog, and hugged and thanks them, wanting to do that privately, before re-entering civilization. I typed as fast as I could, with cheers and laughter, and tears running down my face, what Lance, the dogs, the fans, the family were doing and saying as he came into Nome, down Front Street, and under the Burled Arch, running beside his team, and pointing to the 13 on his chest with both hands, tears and laughter on that wooly frost-red beaming face above that 'krusty with dirt and dog doo' red snowsuit he wears, cheering in celebration and embracing to the ground his brother, then Mom..........."I did it, Mom! Life will never be the same!"

Throughout the next hours, on Cabela's, we collected 'favorite Lance quotes' (It's Lance, Not Chance!)....There were so many. I went to Lance's web site, and left him a cngratulatory message, telling him that the finish sealed my resolve to be there next year. He wrote me back the next week, to come see him at the start or finish line. Yep. I'm a group. By the way, I never did use that sleeping bag...........up all night.

Plans to attend started immediately, with me asking those who had gone for advice. I got great information, but this time, mostly from the Idita-Support group. It was so hard to decide when, and how long, and which activities to include. It soon became evident, you can't do everything in one year. I decided to forgo the Nome trip, as it would add a lot of time and expense, plus I really enjoyed the ending on the Internet from home. I knew I wanted to do both starts, the Banquet, the Vet check, some open houses, and a fly out to at least one checkpoint. I wanted to volunteer, but also wanted some free time to explore and meet other peopled I have come to know and love on the groups. I kept all three groups abreast of my plans. Pat Schue described a tour, and that caught my eye, but I can't imagine being 'hooked' to a tour. I'm too spontaneous for that. But, after talking to other who have done this tour, I signed up, then immediately booked my flights, and chose dates. Two weeks sounded like plenty of time, I thought then! Not now! Wish I had opted for at least three more days! Oh, well.

Shortly after I committed to the tour, Karen F. (Idita-S member I had not talked to previously) announced a need for roommates. We exchanged information about ourselves, hit it off immediately, and within no time there were four of us (we now call ourselves 'The Gang'). Pam V. and Mary C. were the others.............two west coast and two east coast. We quickly exchanged pictures and information, and we have all been amazed at the instant commaradarie. We are all married (for years) to guys who are not much interested in the Iditarod, who don't want to go, and are hesitant about us going alone because they care for us. We are all nuts about the race, Alaska, and the dogs. I can't wait to meet these girls. We are going to have so much fun.

The end of December, Cabela's announced their talk forum was ending, and I was meandering through the threads, reminising. I decided to bump up the thread 'going ot the 2008 race' and ask who else was really going. I looked through the posts there back to last March, and realized that Gatekeeper was still planning to go. I followed his thread (always thought Gatekeeper was a guy) and noticed mention of Oregon, and Corvallis.............and thought...........Pam lives in Corvallis! Is Gatekeeper Pam? Sure enough, and she had no idea I was JeanieB. Small, small world. Shortly after that, I got the wonderful news that Laurie (Mith) and Spirit are going too!!! It will be so great to meet her.

In three weeks I will be in Alaska! It sounds like a long time, but the last month has gone quickly. There is a constant blitz of e-mails as we revise our schedules to pack more and more into the trip. For me, planning and anticiption of a trip is almost as much fun as the trip itself, and nothing could be truer now. I'm having a ball. Every day there is something I think of the check out (like how do we pee in Willow with ski bibs and a bunch of layers on) or purchase (when Karen said there were a few insulated ski pants at TJMAXX and I made a quick lunch run to get the last ones) or a bright idea (like checking I-tunes and finding a bunch of Alaska, dog, and Iditarod songs, and making a CD for 'The Gang' for Christmas -- that was so fun). Never a dull moment. I'm living the trip in my head 24/7. Wonder if my last Cabela's order will be here next week? Got to have that heavy silk underwear!

Pre-Trip - How I became obsessed

Ok, guys, this is the boring part you might want to skip. However, for me, looking back over how I got this far, to want to take my bones to a frozen tundra for fun, is an important part of my story.

My excitement has been building since the end of the 2007 race. Actually, I guess it's been building for years! I remember, years ago, seeing a TV special that documented one of the Iditarod's that Susan Butcher won. It amazed me, that people would choose to go over a thousand miles through the wilderness of the Alaskan Interior by sled in this day and age. Later, another documentary, the year Dee Jonrowe's dogs stopped on the Yukon, and she could not get them to go no matter what she tried, a little trigger happened in my head. It was the realization that the musher wasn't just "driving dogs", but the dogs and musher were a team, and that all parts of the team had to work in perfect synchronicity. Hook #1!!!

In 1993, while planning our first trip to Montana, I heard the name Doug Swingley, looked up where he lived, and wondered about a Montanan running the Iditarod. Following that story, and his win as the 1st 'outsider' got me into exploring more about the race on the Internet. I'm not sure which came first, but I think an 'accidental' hit on Cabela's looking for camping equipment at the same time the Iditarod was running, lured me onto the Cabela's Iditarod website. I lurked for a while, but from that minute, Hook #2!, I was hooked for good.

Alaska has been reeling me in ever since. The first year I followed the Iditarod from the start was Jessica Royer's rookie year. I had just been to Big Sky, so knew where she was from, and her training with Doug Swingly, so I was into the Montana connection. I think that year I probably checked the site once a day during the race, and finally registered and posted once or twice, and enjoyed the responses. Each year has intensified since then. After trying to keep up with posts and accessing web cams with dial up in 2005 and 2006, when I was posting throughout the race, and getting to know all the mushers, their families, and the Talk Forum family, and at times getting up in the middle of the night to check stats, and having to wait exassperatingly long for responses. It was painfully inadequate trying to catch a musher coming into Nome on the web came on dial-up; "They're coming! (refresh) They're gone." During the 2006 race, I would run to the library between clients or at lunch to watch videos, check web cams, and post to my growing Iditarod friends, feeling by then very much a part of the Iditarod family. I was determined to go to Alaska! I was determined to touch the dogs, to feel their energy, to hear them howl to run, to be there for the excitement on Front Street!

In 2005, Carolyn, a.k.a. Carrottop, blogged her entire Iditarod visit, and posted regularly from points along the trail on her Cabela's led tour. It was almost like being there, to follow her. After her return, I e-mailed her how much I enjoyed her personal story, and asked advice for planning my own trip, I thought in 2007. She hooked me up with Idita-support, and I immediately began interacting with June, Maureen, Diane N., Carolyn, and Barbara L. In February 2006, Barbara arranged ot stop in along the interstate near my home on her way to the airport to fly to Alaska. We had a wonderful couple of hours together, the first time I was face to face with someone who was as into the race as I am (or more so!). Barbara told me about the Bootie Brigade, game me samples, one of them Martin Buser's bootie that still had 'dog foot smell' on it. Hook #3! I volunteered and made 120 booties for the 2007 race.

The 'downer' about the meeting with Barbara was that I received a call from my Sister while we were together, telling that Daddy was gravely ill, and Daddy died the next day. That was my first experience of how awesome my Idita-buddies are! So many messages and outpourings of kindness and love, and shared experiences. I have seen it over and over with the Iditarod family. Barbara's husband, who had never met me, contacted me to see if I was ok while Barbara was still in Alaska!

The 2006 race saw me more actively involved on both talk forums, and exploring all the web sites, educating myself about every musher, and every checkpoint along the trail. I drank in info from the 'experts' on the forums and participated in hilarious banter as we couldn't go to sleep at night and wer punch-drunk with excitement and waiting during the early days of the race. Thjat year the Cabela's folks rallied round Mith, when suddenly, on line, her service dog, Spirit, collapsed and became gravely ill. She was gone so long getting him help, and the rest of us became even closer in our concerns, thoughts, and prayers. It restored my faith in humanity to watch us stick our necks out to trust each other enough to donate funds to pay for Spirit's treatment. Frank, the wonderful (recently retired) Cabela's moderator, assisted us in staying as annonymous as we could, while sharing info and connections to collect funds for Mith and Spirit. It was amazing, all the human interest stories running through the groups, as well as those being shared from the trail. Jeff King's win, and gorgeous Salem, with yellow flowers, are the still shot that captures the 2006 finish for me.

I finally hooked up to DSL at work for the 2007 race. Wooooohoooo, what a relief. Now I could follow the race for real!