Updated: Apr 30
This edition of the ALO news is the first to come to you from house arrest in Bethel, where ALO has locked its doors and moved next door. Many visitors to Bethel over the years have observed that the Angstmans sort of live in isolation which is true. But it is also true that Bethel is a very social town with lots of neighborly visiting. That has pretty much come to a halt. And this might last a while.
What a change in a few weeks. At last writing, Bethel was cold and snowy, and many were looking forward to the Iditarod with two solid contenders from the area getting ready to race. Now that it is over, both had frustrating races and the race itself had serious issues. Defending champion Pete Kaiser had several challenges and ended up 14th place and Richie Diehl scratched. Two major sponsors announced they would no longer be involved with the race after this year, and Covid-19 caused many changes to race logistics. A couple of checkpoints were moved, and post-race events were largely cancelled. When you add to that list the large worldwide economic impact that is being created by the pandemic and it is obvious the Iditarod has some major challenges going forward.
One bright spot for Bethel fans was Jessica Klejka’s 22nd place finish. Jessica is a Bethel favorite, having grown up racing here before going off to become a veterinarian. She is now the local vet although she lives elsewhere. This was her second Iditarod and her run drew special interest at ALO because she is using dogs from the last litter born and trained at Old Friendly Dog Farm. One of those dogs, named Radar, was identified early as a leader and had other notable traits that suggested stardom. This series of photos show Radar, the yellow dog in front, guiding Jessica through a rough spot on the trail near Nome.
Jessica said Radar was a star leader the whole way. That last photo of Radar reveals a happy, healthy dog unfazed by nine tough days on the trail and an obviously horrible bit of terrain. Race fans might also enjoy these two satellite texts Jessica sent during her last night on the trail during a blizzard. That stretch of trail is notorious for bad weather with little protection from the wind. The shelter cabin she mentions is in a location called the blow hole that can have howling winds on a calm day. These messages are as close to being on the race as any old guy should need. The messages came with a map which allows a person familiar with the trail to visualize the scene. And note the time stamp when they were sent. Race fans in Alaska aren't allowed to sleep. A day earlier she called while racing near a village and she occasionally broke off the conversation to direct her dogs.
A media sensation of another sort has grown up around the Iditarod with the social media postings of former Bethel guy Colin McDonald. Colin usually posts twice a day summaries of the race on Facebook, with well-reasoned nick names for racers and clever memes describing their progress. He focuses on teams from the Bethel area, but no one is spared. Check his page for the last couple of weeks for a taste of his offerings. One of his last offerings was a question about these two mushers named Underwood. On the left is Sean Underwood who ran a team of Jeff King's dogs in this year's race. On the right is Nathan Underwood who ran a team from Old Friendly Dog Farm in 1985. There is no evidence they are related. You be the judge.
Of course dog racing is small news compared to a global pandemic. No one in America will be unaffected by this. How bad it gets is yet to be determined, but it is clear that some folks think it is no big deal. That opinion started at the top, and was repeated by the president’s favorite network until just a few days ago. Here is a short clip of comments about the pandemic that would make any reasonable person sputter. And now that he has changed his tune in the face of overwhelming evidence he was wrong, he does as he always does and looks for someone else to blame. Just recently he has decided its China’s fault. Never mind that America was told about the virus in December, and Trump was still claiming it was no big deal in March. In that period of time a huge amount of medical preparation could have taken place that would have helped the current situation. Yet many folks say he is doing a good job on this issue.
This month’s mandatory moose is causing a problem.
This polar bear shot is superb.
Here’s a short bio of Andy that showed up on the website Faces of Iditarod.com.
And an old picture of Mary being introduced to dog mushing.
There were lots of cartoons this month, which normally happens when there are troubling events going on. One features the precious right to a jury of your peers.
Folks from Iowa will get this one.
Everyone can’t work from home.
Fans of expensive water take special note of this one.
On the subject of things to drink, here is an ode to Carnation milk.
Sunset and Mary were sent home from boarding school a few days ago, on short notice. Sunset decided to wear her prom dress to the last day of class. Why not?
That photo courtesy of the Sitka Sentinel newspaper, The seniors later assembled outside in their caps and gowns for pictures as well.
Roger Stone gets lots of attention for his legal battles. He was found guilty by a jury but now wants to have a new trial. His good friend Donald Trump has vouched for him. This recorded portion of a legal proceeding involving Stone should tell you whether he is a good guy. Remember he was under oath and the video camera was sitting right in front of him when he said these things. It's one of the most extraordinary bits of testimony seen in 45 years of law work. He may be Roger, but he’s no Mr. Rogers.
And finally a couple of Ada shots by popular demand.