For my next trip to Montana I had arranged to fly on Delta from Atlanta to Missoula by way of Salt Lake City. This was intentional since the weather around Minneapolis can be unpredictable and changes quickly in the winter, causing travel delays. The week before I was to leave, there had been blizzards with white out conditions in the upper tier of states.
This trip was more like my usual trips. I had worked New Years Eve and gotten off, at 7 AM. I rushed to catch the shuttle that would get me to Atlanta at 10 AM so I could get on a plane that was l leaving at 10:58 AM. Because it was New Years Day, there was no morning rush hour traffic and we arrived in plenty of time. I was unable to sleep because of the sun in my eyes. The driver was a retired school teacher with a passion for historical trivia. He had a fact sheet about all the similarities between the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations.* The driver had been in remission from leukemia for six years and had moved from Florida to
Chattanooga to be closer to his grandchildren. The only other passenger was a woman who had survived cancer. We were all survivors. I had survived my first two weeks of training and still had a banged up shoulder that I had babied while I was home.
My wife had noticed all the bruises the second night I was home and said, “When you said you were going to do the Iditarod, I did not think you could get seriously hurt.” If she only knew. As a volunteer, I had treated a man, who had frostbitten ears and a woman with a broken hand at the halfway point and she was intending to finish the race. Doug had won the race in 2000 with two broken ribs and frozen his corneas in 2002 after he had lasik surgery. His vision in low light conditions has never been the same and his eyes are more susceptible to cold weather, freezing.