We are big Iditarod fans here in 804.  It started last year when we did our annual "Iditaread" at school and the girls made the connection to the real race.  Watching the ceremonial start in Anchorage is something I've been interested in doing since we moved here, but the weather has been crummy each year and we've opted to stay in Whittier.  This year we were finally able to go...what fun!

I was a bit nervous about the crowds downtown, but I needn't have worried.  This is Anchorage!  Not Portland.  There were lots of people, but it was still easy to move around and easy to get a good spot to see.  We worked our way up 4th Avenue, watching some of our favorites make their parade start.

Last year we rooted for Aliy Zirkle...

And this year we're adding DeeDee Jonrowe to our cheering list...

The girls loved her pink parka, harnesses, and truck.  They don't know that the pink signifies her fight against breast cancer.  She's probably one of the most famous mushers, despite the fact that she's never won.

We're also rooting for Nicolas Pettit, a musher out of Girdwood.  The hometown boy, so to speak!

image from the official Iditarod website
As we worked our way up 4th Avenue we went from the trail area into the staging area which was almost more fun.  The street is lined with dog trucks, sleds, and dogs anchored to trucks. 

After the dogs are all harnessed and their turn is approaching, a team of handlers assists the musher in getting the sled and dogs to the starting line.  The dogs are so excited to run that it takes one handler per dog to hold them back until it is time to go.

We bought the special edition of the Anchorage Daily News and used it to create our own little Iditarod center when we got home.  The girls were full of questions, so as we answer those questions we're adding them to the area.  Their idea, though the teacher in me loves it.  Visual representation of your thinking and learning?  Yes, please!

We had lunch a yummy little pizza spot on G Street, Uncle Joe's Pizzeria, where I ate a slice of a pizza called "Street Dog" (light pizza sauce, carmelized onions, reindeer & rope sausages, a swirl of homemade 1000 island dressing & mozzarella--it was delish!) and the girls downed slices of cheese pizza the size of their heads!

Then we continued on to the park blocks where the girls experienced the highlight of their day...a dog sled ride!

They loved it so much!  The cupcake hat in the middle there is our 18 month old friend, McKinley.  She had fun, too!  It was a great way to spend a Saturday...I am so glad we got to go!