When we first stepped off the plane in Alaska nearly thirty years ago, the headline of the Anchorage Daily News announced “BUTCHER FINALLY WINS IT!” It was the first year Susan Butcher won the Iditarod (’86) and we were immediately caught up in the excitement of the world’s longest sled dog race. When my son, Erik, was five or six years old he made up his mind to build a dog sled of his own. He took a pair of old wooden skis, some scraps of 2x4s, a hammer and a coffee can full of nails and got to work in the garage.
Several hours of intense hammering later, he came in asking for some paper towels. The sled wasn’t looking so good. He thought if he added a sail made of paper towels, maybe the wind could help move the contraption across the snow. Sweet Erik. It would be another half-dozen years before he would take those very same skies, and with the help of a Boy Scout leader, build a respectable-looking dog sled.