Our travel plan to the GinGin 200 Sled Dog Race was perfect: Leave the Kennel at 2pm in three trucks -- two dog trucks (with 30 dogs) driven by Aliy and Allen, and a pick-up truck (carrying a snow machine) driven by me -- to meet Bridgett at the Fairbanks airport at 3pm, then drive five hours to Paxson in time for a nice dinner and a good night's rest before the race.
Well, as you may recall from our recent trip to the Sheep Mountain Race, "It's never easy!"
We found out this morning that Bridgett's flight out of Nome was cancelled so she would not be able to get to Fairbanks in time for us to leave. She thought she might be able to get to Anchorage later in the day, where a friend of hers might be able to drive her up to Paxson. In other words, maybe we would have three mushers in Paxson for the race, and maybe not.
So, we -- Allen, Aliy and I -- had one of our now-customary "plan adjustment meetings" to try to figure out what to do. The big question was whether or not to bring Bridgett's team of dogs to Paxson, and, if we did, what to do with them once there if she could not get to the race at all.
We decided the problem could be solved by me taking care of them in Paxson while Aliy and Allen were out on the trail with their teams. It would limit my ability to take the snow machine out on the trail to video the teams in action, but it was a far better alternative than not taking the team to Paxson just in case Bridgett could make it after all. Also, we figured that if she could get as far as Anchorage but not get a ride, I could make the 10-hour round trip to Anchorage and still have her back in Paxson in time for the race. It would be "a very closely run thing", but it could be done.
With that "new plan" in mind, we set off as originally planned, minus the stop at the Fairbanks airport to fetch Bridgett.
Thankfully, the weather and road conditions were not too bad along the way -- just the usual high winds and blowing snow -- and we pretty much made our scheduled time to Paxson. Along the way, Bridgett phoned me to say that she had been able to make it to Anchorage and that her friend had very nicely agreed to drive here most of the way to Paxson, as far as Glenallen which would be only about a 3-hour round-trip for me.
So, Allen, Aliy and I arrived in Paxson at about 8pm, where I got a cup of coffee and left Allen and Aliy to drop and feed the dogs, then set off for Glenallen. Despite a few, um, challenging moments along the way, I made it to Glenallen at about 10pm and found Bridgett waiting for me at "The Hub", a famous truck stop. We quickly threw her gear in the truck and headed back here to Paxson, arriving just before midnight and very happily uniting the complete team. They were even able to get a few hours of sleep before getting up early this morning to drop/feed the dogs then have some breakfast during the mushers' meeting.
"It's never easy" -- you really have to be flexible and resourceful around here -- but all things considered the trip worked out pretty well, and a lot better than it could have! Here's hoping the actual GinGin 200 Sled Dog Race goes as well!