Well, the mushers started coming in last night…late. Mitch Seavey was the first across the line I think around 11-ish. We had been to a concert earlier by Broken Walls, a band which reaches out to the native peoples. I’m glad we went, but by the time we got back, dressed for the cold, and got down to Front Street the crowd was pretty substantial and we stood near the entrance of the chute. We waited for a good forty-five minutes, and it was quite chilly (around three degrees). Aliy came soon afterward. I was sure wishing she could win this year. Last year she came in second behind Mitch’s son, Dallas.
We stayed for two other mushers and by the time we got to bed it was almost two o’clock. I figured we’d sleep for a few hours and then get back out, but due in part to how tired we were and also the fact that our bedroom has room-darkening curtains, we didn’t get out of bed until around nine. By then quite a few mushers had come in, and I missed seeing DeeDee (I think she came in between four and five this morning). We hung out at the mini-convention center for a while and whenever a musher was coming in would pop out and catch their arrival. Then we walked out onto the snow ice and visited the “greenhouse” which isn’t a house that’s green, it’s plastic over a frame so it looks like a greenhouse. Kevin ran into one of the young men featured in Bering Sea Gold and was invited out, but no one was home. On the way back we caught another musher (Brent Sass) come in across the ice. We said, “Welcome to Nome” as he flew by and he said, “I’m glad to be here!”
We are missing the siren that used to sound when mushers passed Fort Davis (halfway between Safety and here). I guess so many people (or perhaps it was just a few) complained because it woke them at night that they decided not to do it. That had been a tradition since the start, and it’s a shame they had to stop it. I think the easier solution would have been to buy earplugs for those who complained! Seriously. It’s just not the same. Some of the locals are complaining because they’ve missed a lot of the mushers coming in. Maybe they’ll reconsider and change it back.
Tonight we are taking the 12:30-3:00 a.m. shift for the safety patrol, which basically is a team which walks around town and looks for drunks who may have fallen into a snowbank, etc., helping them get home or taking them to the local shelter. Alcoholism is a real problem here, and the Iditarod only exacerbates that. There are seven bars in town and a lot of homeless people. We met one the other night when we took some new socks and boots we bought to the homeless shelter at the Nazarene church. His name was John and he was a real sweetheart. Basically the homeless drink all day and then show up at the shelter at 9 p.m. where they are fed a meal and allowed to sleep in a warm place. My friend often brings their dirty socks or clothes home and washes them. Some may say this is enabling them, but the gospel is shared and so is God’s love, and we leave the rest up to Him.
The guys took a ride on snow machines this afternoon to find the herd of musk ox that’s been hanging around Anvil Mountain. This time Kevin remembered to take the video camera :) I’d like to have gone along but I’m quite tired and still a bit sore from the last ride we took. Hopefully we’ll have another opportunity to get out. In the meantime our schedule’s been packed and we’re enjoying our time here, which is flying by way too fast!!! It always does when you’re having fun :)