On the Trail in Nome – Thursday

Today was somewhat less busy, at least the morning. The first musher of the day didn’t arrive until 12:10 this afternoon. Rookie Joe Taylor started off the day and was then followed by long time legend, Martin Buser. While waiting for Martin to pull in, his wife was telling people in the chute how she had received a Facetime call from Martin from atop Topkok Mountain! I wish I had that kind of service up here… Martin was very happy to be back in Nome after a challenging run in this year’s Iditarod. 


The afternoon was spent working on a project with Jane Holmes. It is a walking tour of Nome with clues to many of the historical landmarks and plaques throughout the city. We have done a little each day, and gone to places like Hansen’s store, the visitor’s center and Old St. Joe’s church to find the answers to the clues. While walking through Hansen’s, I couldn’t help but notice the price differences. At the visitor’s center, we learned a lot about Wyatt Earp, and his connection to Nome. We heard some stories from Leon at the visitor’s center about Earp’s connection to other cities in the U.S., like San Diego. It was really interesting!

Amanda Otto and Jeff King were the next to cross under the arch. Amada had been running Jeff’s team from Husky Homestead, and Jeff ran Nic Petit’s team (after Nic tested positive for Covid just days before the race). It was quite a wonderful thing to see the mentor and mentee running the race and finishing together as they both waive to the crowd.

I also took a trip to the Nome Nugget after meeting one of their reporters, Peter, in Unalakleet. He invited me to stop in and take a look around, so today, I took him up on the offer. The Nugget is the oldest paper in Alaska, and has an amazing amount of state history inside its 4 small walls. The building, formerly a part of the old Fort Davis, was moved from that location to Nome when the fort was decommissioned. Now, it has records and maps dating back to 1905. He showed me a map of the the area from that time when Nome was not even named yet. There were some of the old printing letters in drawers from how they used to print newspapers. The best thing he showed was an old sign for the Nugget that actually had a mistake and had to be redone on the back. A good lesson to teachers and students out there to check their work before making a “final draft”. 


Me and Aliy Zirkle.

The most interesting moment and story from today was when I noticed Aliy Zirkle in the crowd after Joe Taylor and Martin Buser crossed the finish line. I wanted to make sure to thank her in person for helping me with some of my “Moments With Mushers” questions from the year before. So after listening to her tell some stories about how she just came from some time on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, and had her “best ever trip to Nome” (by airplane this time), I introduced myself. She was wonderful to talk with and shared the best stories. Apparently she bumped into Dallas Seavey at the airport recently and he was talking to her about a multitude of things. At one point, he mentioned that he was disappointed that he came in second place this year. For those of you who don’t know, this is something that you don’t mention to Aliy Zirkle. After never winning the Iditarod, but finishing 5th, 4th, 3rd and also 2nd, three times in a row, she simply said to him, “Really, do you know who you are talking to?” After that she said he shut up pretty quickly. Just another chance encounter that led to a great little story. 



Much like Sean Underwood claimed being a “Blackhawk expert” last year in an Insider interview with Liz Failor, I can claim to be a “snow machine expert”. I again had the opportunity to travel by snow machine, with photographer Whitney McLaren, out to the Nome River area to photograph mushers coming down the trail within the final 10 miles of the race. It was amazing to get back out onto the trail and see Matthew Failor, Karin Hendrickson, and Matt Paveglio who shouted remarks to us as they passed. Failor gave me a high five and apologized for not getting there sooner. (To which I replied, he was doing great, and was happy he was here.) Karin and Matt had quite the battle down the homestretch. On the river, Karin mentioned that Matt may pass her, and right behind, Matt commented that he may be able to catch her! It turns out he did, as he crossed under the arch about 5 minutes before her. Once in the chute, everyone was happy to be back with loved ones, and hamming it up with everyone. I was particularly impressed with Matt P’s attire for St. Patrick’s day today, and a sign that was made for Matthew Failor. He has had a couple run-in’s with moose in the last month. His reaction was priceless. 


Today’s “Adventures of Booloo” was rather exciting! I noticed that Booloo had a buddy that apparently ran the entire race with Matt Paveglio! I will be sure to get the full story from him if I get the chance…

Teachers: After walking around Hansen’s store and looking at the prices of things. Compare the prices of milk in this picture to the price of milk near you! What is the difference in price? Ask your class why they think it is so much more expensive in Alaska!

Current milk prices in Alaska.