Two new things we've learned this winter:

1- this area is prime dog sled racing country.  who knew?  

2- Norman Vaughan, a local hero, is fast becoming one of our favorite people to walk this earth.  

He was born nearby in 1905, and when he was twelve he hooked up his mutt, Rex, to his flexible flyer sled and taught him to mush.  

Because who needs fancy equipment?  Then his friend joined in and brought along his dog Fido.  With the addition of a St. Bernard from the pound, they had a dog sled team that they rode all around the backwoods of Cape Ann.  

That alone is reason to love this guy.  But then he went on to do amazing things for the rest of his life!  He died in 2005 at the age of 100. 

Last December, when I learned there was going to be a national dog sled race nearby, I instantly knew I had Marc's Christmas present-- a trip to the races!  The main race of the two-day event was a "Norman Vaughan Memorial" race, to honor the native son dog sled racing hero.  

We read a bit about the guy before the races last weekend, and on the sunny winter day of the races I was completely awestruck by the event, and by the inspiring figure of Norman Vaughan.  

at the starting line
Norman Vaughan had the epitome of a can-do spirit.  Wanna do some dog sledding?  Hook your dog to your sled -- that's all you need!  Think it would be amazing to trek to the interior of the Antarctic?  Go, then!  Think something's impossible?  There's only one way to find out! 
a team prepping for the race
Norman Vaughan left Harvard in 1928 to join the famous Byrd expedition to Antarctica (they were first to set foot on the antarctic interior), and went on to build a life around dog sledding adventure.  He delivered medicine to isolated villages in Newfoundland, rescued fighter pilots lost in Greenland during WWII, and competed in the Iditarod thirteen times -- all after the age of 72! 

To honor Norman for his contributions as chief dog driver during that first expedition, Admiral Byrd named an Antarctic peak after him.  In December 1994, three days shy of his 89th birthday, he climbed his namesake, Mount Vaughan, at 10,302 feet.    

The dog races were surreal.  I've never seen a winter activity so inspiring.  I tend to moan about winter and feel like I'm just waiting impatiently for Spring to come again, but something like this makes winter majestic, and beautiful, and too short!  

And here's what I'm inspired to really do.  This guy competed in the Memorial Open race, up against 12-dog sled teams in an 11-mile race.   I can't believe it's for real!  
approaching the finish line -- coolest sport ever? 
We have (twenty-year-old hand-me-down) cross-country skis... all we need is a harness and a dog or two... Winter is looking more and more appealing.  

Stomping through knee-deep snow we were both reminded so vividly of our trip to Norway, where we both first experienced a real feeling of magical winter wonderland.  

What a world this is!  What inspiring things to see and do!  Norman Vaughan's lifelong message has struck a deep, reverberating chord: 

"Live out your dreams.  Take every opportunity to face your challenges with enthusiasm, and then live adventurously.  Dream big, and dare to fail." 



Beth Rhoades said...

WOW! What an adventure!

Super L said...

Is it a morphogenic field that Simon has recently begun becoming obessesed with Antarctica? Hmmmm. I wish you guys would stop sending him brainwaves which lead to demands for strenuous and astronomically expensive trips . . .

Katie said...

Speaking of expensive trips...take him to Norway next! He can visit the arctic ship Fram which was trapped in ice in the arctic for 3 YEARS!