We've been to the Iditarod start before...both the ceremonial and the official start. In fact, we've seen the official start both in Willow and in Fairbanks! Kael never had though, so we definitely wanted to share that experience with him and try something new at the same time, so after a little research we headed to the Campbell Creek Science Center to catch the end of the ceremonial start. It was a fantastic place to be! On ceremonial start day they run shuttles from several nearby parking lots into the science center as parking there is pretty limited. We shuttled in and the kids were super excited to ride the school bus shuttle. Funny how seemingly ordinary things seem so special when they aren't part of our routine!
I get a little sentimental and sappy about Iditarod because I love it so much. The origins of the sport, the way the mushers love their dogs, the dogs, and most of all the mushers. They are so kind, so down to earth, so personable and so approachable.
When you go to the ceremonial start downtown it is so fun to see the dogs so excited to run. They are barking and straining in the harnesses. They are ready to GO! Campbell creek is the end though, so that excitement has dissipated and you get to see the dogs come in as they've settled down and found their groove. They head down to a parking lot where their truck or trailer is waiting for them and you get to watch how they unhook them all. They feed and water them, then load them out and pull out, headed to Willow for the official start the next day. During all of this, you're able to stand 4 feet from the back bumpers of the trucks and the mushers and their helpers are happy to talk to you, to bring dogs over to the fence for people to pet, and to sign autographs. We have followed Aily Zirkle for several years now and through total luck we were there when her team pulled in. I'd love to tell you how excited the kids were, but in all honesty I was just as giddy!
She is just a nice person. A good role model for kids. Some other great role models are the Berington sisters.
It was fun to watch this musher come to the end, cheered on by his family.
To put the icing on the cake, it started to lightly snow while we were watching. We all had a ton of fun, and I'd like to return to the science center in the spring or summer and check it all out.