Indiana

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Chloe enjoys the view from our favorite motel.

I first stopped at Welsh’s Motel in 1993 on my maiden voyage west from Indiana to attend the University of Montana in Missoula. I met Mr. Wes Welsh that day, and ever since I have looked forward to his warm greeting and smiling face when I walk through the lobby door after a long day of travel. Time passes, and over the years I’ve driven this 1700-mile route 40-some times. This last June, though, Mr. Welsh was not there. When his daughter, Kelly, greeted me, I knew our Mr. Welsh was gone. Kelly has the same big, open heart and beaming smile of her father. Over the registration counter, we shared memories of both her dad and my parents (who had also stayed at Welsh’s over the years). We couldn’t help but cry. They were tears of painful loss but also much joy. We both know how fortunate we are.

I’m traveling west again soon. Headed to my “homes” in South Dakota, and then Montana. Home is where you share your heart. Thank you, Mr. Welsh, for sharing yours…

And Kelly, we’ll be seeing you soon.

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Tyler Short (L), Karen Land, Steve Brinkworth, and Romano

Laura McCracken, a devoted Iditarod teacher from Northside Middle School, Columbus, IN, writes:

Tyler Short was a Trailblazer last year when he was in seventh grade. He was captivated with the Iditarod and with meeting you and Romano, seeing an actual Iditarod sled and all the gear. Each of his classmates wrote a letter to an Iditarod musher using an address provided via the Iditarod education website. However, Tyler took his letter writing to the next level. He wrote one very good letter and we photocopied it. Then he painstakingly addressed each envelope by hand. He sent a letter to every single musher who provided an address. This came out to be about 60 letters.

During the summertime, he enjoyed checking the mail because he received replies throughout the summer. Seventeen mushers wrote him back. Dallas Seavey sent his Iditarod identification pass, some brochures, and a very kind letter. Tyler also received lots of dog booties and photographs. Pete Kaiser sent a two-page handwritten letter and some booties.

Tyler explains: “I was having a great time learning about the Iditarod and when Mrs. McCracken said we were going to write letter, I got super excited. I was excited because I was actually about to write to a musher! Someone who had actually gone through the Iditarod and knows what really goes on! Then I had the idea of writing a letter and sending it to all the mushers. I talked to Mrs. McCracken and she said that they could pay for the stamps and that’s when the determination kicked in. I actually had a letter done in 20 minutes and sent that exact letter to every musher. It took forever to fill out all the envelopes and sign all the letters.”

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The details of the parts of the sled are VERY accurate!

 

Over the last 16 years, I’ve collected crates full of wonderful art made for me (and my dogs) by students from all over the United States. I try to hang as much as I can in my home but sadly I don’t have enough free space for each and every beautiful piece. SO I’ve decided it would be fun to post a few chosen ones on this blog! I will begin this IDITAROD ARTISTS series with a drawing I received in the mail a few weeks ago. The main artists are Ryan Coughlin, Brandon Harbin, Brennan Thoele, Nick Manning, and of course, the rest of the class at Tri-Valley Elementary in Downs, Illinois who signed this thank-you card. Thank you, I loved all of the cards you sent!

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I can’t get over how much this looks like Romano!!!