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  • Writer's pictureMyron

February 2024

The ALO February news usually features a lot of Iditarod news which happens in March. That’s because the author of this page is also the editor and owner, so calling March news February news is allowed. This year’s Iditarod was marked by controversy from start to finish, and  poses a threat to the future of this widely followed event.   The controversy started when two racers were disqualified before the start of the race for personal conduct deemed a violation of race rules. One of those racers was reinstated and then opted to not race, but the  other, a former champion, did not race. This article explains the situation well. Read article here. There were many other articles as well, including some in national publications. The Kuskokwim 300 was involved in this issue, as noted in the article, having asked both racers to withdraw from the January race, which they did.

 

The next controversy involved a moose attack during the early part of the Iditarod.  That event resulted in a minor penalty and much more discussion.  The issue revolved around whether the moose was properly gutted to preserve the meat for consumption and whether the injured dog was given adequate care by the racer. This article digs deep into those questions. See article here. To cap the controversies, three dogs died on the trail, the first such deaths in a few years. These problems certainly detracted from enjoyment of the race around ALO.  That lack of enjoyment peaked at the finish when there was no drama and personal favorite teams who had been in contention earlier faded.  Suffice it to say that no one at ALO cheers for the Yankees in baseball,  and this year’s Iditarod was won by the Iditarod equivalent of the Yankees.


Despite all the fuss about the race, there was some fun to be had.  Colin McDonald has operated an entertaining Facebook page that has recently gone viral. It's called Iditarod Outsider, and is a take off on the Iditarod Insider which is a paid site available through the Iditarod that provides a bunch of information for subscribers.  The Outsider provides some information, some of which is lifted from the  many other sites providing coverage, and adds memes, jokes, nick names, and other  comical twists that keep the audience coming back for more.   Here’s an example of a post.



The Outsider has its favorite teams, the ones with a connection to the Kuskokwim River, and this year was not a great year for that bunch.  One such team, Richie Diehl, retired from racing and Pete Kaiser finished ninth which is low for him.  He did have one adventure in the famous Topkok blow hole which is worth watching.



A couple of trips through the blow hole long ago revealed that it can be unfriendly.  Those memories cause a shiver every time they crop up, as they did watching Pete talk. A blow hole in Alaska is a gap in the mountains that funnels wind and can cause extreme winds when there are moderate winds nearby.  Here are two photos of the Dog Farm team  in

1983 in the All-Alaska Sweepstakes.  The first is the start on Front Street where the crowd created the starting chute in the middle of the street. The second is returning to Nome a couple miles out of town.  There was a powerful wind all along the coast that day, but unbearable in the Blow Hole. The next team behind couldn’t make it through, crawled in his sled to wait if out, and retired from racing that day. It was blowing about 30 in the photo, but likely double that in the blow hole.




Bethel native Jessica Klejka finished the race in 19th place and the noteworthy part of that finish is the fact that she is 15 weeks pregnant.  Fewer people have finished the Iditarod than have climbed Mt. Everest, and the number who have finished while pregnant is minuscule, but that’s not a stat that is kept.  Temps on the trail  were far below zero with invigorating wind chills, but it seems this child was well protected from the weather.


ALO Update

Stuff still happens at ALO, despite dog races.  Two brothers from Kodiak settled their claim against a driver who caused a serious crash while intoxicated in that city.  They accepted policy limits for their claims.  In another  Kodiak case, two women settled claims against the City of Kodiak after being the victims of sexual assault by an employee at the city jail.  Neither of those settlements involved litigation. A third settlement involved a significant facial wound suffered by a young girl who was attending a summer camp. Someone from the camp staff brought their dog to the camp and that dog was running loose with the campers and became aggressive. leaping at her face and tearing her upper lip.

 

Mandatory Moose & Other Characters

Frequent daily walks have created many moose encounters this winter with deep snow driving the critters out of the mountains into the city where there is ample vegetation to munch on.  This Mandatory Moose was eating in a  yard less than 10 feet from the side walk as Jack walked past, and by the time the photo was taken the moose was obviously interested in the dog.



Moose are welcome neighbors except they do leave behind evidence of their visits.  Dog walkers have to carry plastic bags for that purpose, but who is supposed to  clean up after the moose?  One moose equals about 10 dogs worth on the sidewalk  by rough estimate.   There is a neighborhood crew that is encountered most mornings around 7 am with safety vests, headlights, and a pick up tool walking the streets and sidewalks picking up trash but they don’t seem motivated to collect moose poop.  This of course is a volunteer crew of three folks that are always a welcome sight.  They greet Jack, get a thank you  and hurry on their way. The world needs more volunteers. That would be the best way to make America great again.  Speaking of Jack, he enjoys walking by this house where the resident dog frequently greets him from the roof .



In Other News

Speaking of making America great,  it seems the country would be better if there was no candidate for President that felt the need to mimic another person’s stutter.  There was a time in this country that such conduct was generally limited to junior high boys and was widely condemned.  Now its part of a campaign speech. And certain fans loved it. The same fans seem to agree that its ok for a candidate to praise Putin and other dictators. What are they thinking?   Some of Trump’s former White House advisors are trying to warn Americans. Read here.  Please pay attention.

 

The warm winter weather in Minnesota created an unusual situation with very thin ice on ponds and lakes.  Long Pond  opened partially in February and fully on March 3, resulting in this post from a neighbor



It's not just Minnesota however.  Ocean temps worldwide reached their highest average temperature on record in 2023 and headed higher in 2024 as shown by this alarming chart. 



While that might make swimming in the ocean more comfortable in some places, it's bad news for the world.

 

Even a marginal Grampa can come up with new grandkid entertainment at times. This experiment involved some M&M’s plus a plate and boiling water, and the kids loved it.



This comment couldn’t be more true.



Paul Malin took another photo of the Anchorage backdrop that needs sharing.  Alaskans have a corner on Mother Nature views.



And this photo by Dolly features her quaint smoke house in her backyard.



And finally Ada and Jack visited the biggest snowman in Alaska called ''Snowzilla''.  It's what you do when it snows too much.




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