The day after the ceremonial start was, of course, the restart. The restart was just like the ceremonial start - if the ceremonial start had been a big cookout held on a giant frozen lake in Willow, with a few dog teams thrown in there. Which is to say, we didn’t have to wake up at 4:30 am to feed dogs and our truck wasn’t surrounded by fans trying to get pictures of the dogs. The whole thing seemed relatively perfect to me, and maybe that was the gorgeous day and the continued blissful, inexplicable, feeling of pride I had for the dogs and Jerry, but I think it was also the setup, at least the later start time.
All our buddies from Talkeetna came to the restart in Willow and cooked brats and drank beers. The dogs were considerably less stressed. Some of the dogs seemed calm and collected, like Olympic athletes in the shots they have just before the big race - Michael Phelps swinging his arms back and forth, adjusting his goggles, looking poised. Others weren’t so serene - Bumblebee tried to climb into the back tire of the dog truck when the announcer started speaking on the megaphone.
I spent a surprising amount of time just petting dogs on Sunday. Somehow it seemed like exactly the right thing to do. I talked with them in a sort of embarrassing way, telling the leaders to make sure the team got to Nome safely, not really thinking how I might look to an outsider, petting and having serious conversations with a bunch of husky dogs.
And then Jerry, Goose, Charger, Mikaela, Nala, Bumblebee, Apollo, Hercules, Witwicky, R2-D2, C-3PO, Martin, Charlie, Ale, Guinness, Pepper, and IPA left. And we drove the empty dog truck home. And started obsessively following their progress online.
People lining the start, three snow machines, and a truck.