Sunday, March 15, 2009

Packing for Nome

It’s that time of year when most of the country is starting to actually believe that Spring might be just around the corner…and here in Alaska we’re watching, tracking and in some cases (mine) obsessing about the Iditarod. It’s an 1100 mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome. There were 67 mushers (yes, that’s what they’re called) who started the race a week ago. The winner is expected to arrive in Nome, Alaska sometime Tuesday night.

I’ll be there. Not because I’m a big enough fan to have to be at the finish line but because my day job includes TV coverage of the start and finish of the race. We’ll do a one-hour live broadcast of the finish no matter when it occurs. Last year that was at 2:45 in the morning. We’re hoping for a daylight finish (makes so much better TV).

But packing for Nome isn’t like going on most trips. My attitude when traveling is “if I forgot it, I’ll just buy a new one”. Can’t really do that in Nome. You can get the basics but it’s expensive and you probably don’t want to arrive and find you’ve left all your undies at home. There’s no Target or Wal-Mart near by.

There is a Subway (attached to a movie theater). I think that’s the only fast food place in Nome.

And the weather is changeable. It’s on the southern coast of the Seward Peninsula in Northwest Alaska. Last week, the temperatures were in the 20s. This week, the highs will be around -5 with a wind chill of -35. Suddenly my plan of wearing jeans and long johns doesn’t seem like it’s going to be warm enough.

So for three days, I’ll pack as many clothes as I would for week in the Lower 48, not so I have the variety but so I have layers. Walking the ten minutes from our production site to hotel could be an extremely uncomfortable trip.

But still, despite the cold and the lack of amenities, it’s a great experience. Seeing that first musher and his dog team arrive is thrilling. It’s amazing when you think about what they accomplish. For nine days, they run across the state, camping, sleeping when they can, resting only when they have to. They carry almost everything but food with them, melting snow for water, cooking over a propane fire.

And I can’t figure out how to pack for three days in Nome. More power to them.

Well, better go finish up. Don’t want to forget my undies.


Lynn LaFleur said...

I love catching the highlights of the race on TV. The dogs are soooo beautiful. Have fun and stay warm, Tielle! You can't let your fingers freeze. We need more books from you.


Liddy Midnight said...

Oh, you lucky so-and-so! I follow the Iditarod online, checking in repeatedly to see how the names I know are doing. Dallas Seavey put in such an impressive preformance this year, although it was overshadowed by Lance Mackey's astounding run.

So, did you have what you needed?
I hope you kept warm!