Socks for Monica!

Terrie Hanke, 2006 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail ™, shared this tale with me:

I have a nice picture of Mitch Seavey changing into fresh Smart Wools at Elim in 2006.  There I was inside the fire house with Jasper Bond, Mark Nordman, Danny Davidson and Jeff Schultz.  Mitch came in with a fresh, still in the wrapper pair of those heavy duty red/gray ones.  After he ate the ham sandwich offered by Jasper, Mitch changed socks – you could see the pleasure on his face.


Keeping your feet warm on the trail is an absolutely necessity and is one of the things that most concerns our adopted rookie musher, Monica Zappa.  We decided this was something we could help her out with!

We learned from Monica that the best types of socks to keep your feet warm on the Iditarod Trail are wool socks.  Here is a2013-11-12 08.39.58 little information for your kids about choosing the best socks: .  We did some research, did some math, and decided that we needed about $340 to be able to buy her a pair of socks for each checkpoint along the trail.  So our next task was to decide how we were going to earn the money. They boys brainstormed several ideas, and ultimately settled on creating Rainbow Loom bracelets and necklaces to sell.  After a pair of class representatives went to the Headmaster to gain approval, we spent about a month making product to sell and then one day before school in early November we had our sale.

We were a little hesitant about how the sale was going to turn out… lots of kids in school were making the bracelets for themselves.  We had done the math and pretty much decided we needed to sell every item we had to make our goal.  We just weren’t sure what to expect.

2013-11-12 08.45.02Well… we were blown away!  We sold every single item we had!  And then, we had younger students in the hallway crying because they didn’t get to buy one!  So the boys created an order sheet and started taking orders!  We ended up spending the entire rest of the day making and delivering the “to order” bracelets.  When all was said and done, we almost doubled our goal!  They kids were so excited!

We wrote to Monica with the amazing news and she picked out the socks she wanted – some Merino wool, some alpaca, some hand knit… and left the rest up to us!

Just before we left school on Winter Break, we packed up mini- drop bags for her for each checkpoint.  We filled a ziplock bagDSC_0472 for each checkpoint with a pair of socks, some hand and feet warmers, and a little note of encouragement!  We even sent her a check and she was able to purchase 250 booties for the four legged members of Team Zappa with the extra money!

We are so excited that a small part of us will be travelling down the trail with Monica this year!  Go Team Zappa!

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Tales from the Trail: Monica Update!

So we can finally break the big news!  Monica Zappa has a wonderful new sponsor…….

Introducing…. Petchup!

Yes, petchup…. As in ketchup (and mustard too) for your pets….

You can learn about Petchup here:

Before we went on Winter Break, we checked in with Monica to get an update on her training. She reports that she is getting increasingly busy with traveling, Iditarod stuff, bad weather, trying to keep her house warm, training, making gear, and so on!  She thinks it is good practice for not getting sleep on the trail.

She did find time to update us though!  Click the link below to learn all about how her training is going, how the Iditarod Rookie meetings in Anchorage went, her sleds,  and of course, how the team is liking the new Petchup products!

Monica December Update

Tales from the Trail: Mini Monica Update!

Monica and the boys are working on their December update, but here’s a quick check- in while they work!  The snow around her kennel has gone from bad to worse because it rained and so there is a layer of ice on top of everything.  So, to improvise, Monica and Tim packed up the dogs and headed north to Cantwell.  They participated in a sixty-two mile race at the Alpine Lodge this weekend. While they are waiting for the snow to improve at home, they are going to stay in Cantwell and mush along the Denali Highway where there is plenty of snow.  The race was Monica’s first time running a full sixteen dog team!  We are anxious to hear all about it and the Iditarod Rookie Meetings from last weekend.  We’ll share the updates with you as soon as we can!

Tales from the Trail: Monica Update

We are learning a lot about being ethical news reporters!  A film crew visited our school and even after a forty minute interview, they still managed to report that I am competing in the Iditarod!

They boys have taken that to heart and are applying their new sense of justice to all of their reporting now… so while we have gotten some amazing news about Monica – she’s asked us not to share it yet – so we won’t…. even though we really, really, really want to!  We will let you in on the surprise as soon as we can!  (But between us – I think we are secretly enjoying being in the know!)

Due to lack of snow, Monica, Tim, and the dogs have been training on the beach lately! I bet that is a site to see!

But luckily, we can report that they have gotten ten inches of snow this weekend and have taken the sleds out!  YIPEE!  Keep doing the snow dances everyone – it’s working, it’s working!

Here’s our latest Monica update:  Monica November Update

She let her lead dog Moto answer our questions this month.  Apparently he has been bugging her to let him help.  Did you know Moto has his own blog?  You can check it out here:  Moto’s Blog

Tales from the Trail: Monica’s Fall Training

Kasilof’s average November high temperature is 31⁰F.

Kasilof’s average November low temperature is 15⁰F.

Today in Kasilof, a high of 45⁰F is expected.

What does that mean for fall dog sled training?

According to our favorite Iditarod rookie, Monica Zappa, that means MUD!  Lots and lots of mud!

My students recently interviewed Monica about how her fall training is going.  She reports that they are really, really, really hoping for some snow soon!  They are still training on the four wheeler and the dogs and mushers are covered in mud and muck when they return from their daily training runs.  They are running the dogs about ten miles a run.  They are training about thirty-six dogs who have hopes of making the Iditarod team.  Monica reports that the dogs definitely know something big is happening…. they are all putting their best effort forward and giving their all to try to make the team!

You can read the whole interview here:  Monica’s Fall Training Interview

Enjoy this video that Monica sent of her fall training:

For more information about Monica and her kennel you can click here:

It turns out rookie mushers aren’t the only ones dealing with no snow!  Here’s an interview Martin Buser gave about how he’s handling the lack of snow:

Let’s all do a HUGE Alaskan Snow Dance – FAST!

Tales from the Trail: More Monica!

“Did you hear from Monica?”

“Did you tell Monica about our plan yet?”

“Did she see our video yet?”

“Does Monica have snow yet?”

It seems like a day doesn’t go by without someone in my class asking about Monica.  (The Brady Bunch episode where the other two sisters complain about “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” goes through my head at least once a day.  “Monica, Monica, Monica.”  Only no one in my room gets it but me!)

My students have taken their task to introduce the world to Monica Zappa and keep everyone up to date on her progress very seriously!

Our first task was to come up with a list of interview questions to prepare for her.  The boys brainstormed in teams things they would like to know and then we whittled the list down to sixteen questions. The boys each wrote out a question on a card, and we create a movie trailer to send her.  You can see the trailer here:

Monica did an amazing job responding to the kids!  Her response is here:  Monica Q & A

I hope you and your students enjoy getting to know Monica a bit better!

As for her training, she reports there is no snow yet….  but with reports of a foot of snow in Denali,  it can’t be too far away.

We will check in with her again in a few weeks to see how things are going!

Tales from the Trail: Meet Monica Zappa

One day a guy goes into a store to buy something and pulls out his dog bootie wallet to pay.  The girl at the counter immediately thinks he must be a musher and that he has a really great bootie… errr… wallet…. They start chatting… and the rest is history.

Monica (right) chats with Karin Hendrickson at the 2014 Iditarod Sign-Ups

Monica (right) chats with Karin Hendrickson at the 2014 Iditarod Sign-Ups

This year my class is lucky enough to have “adopted” rookie Iditarod musher Monica Zappa and this is the story she shared with me about how she met her kennel and life partner Tim Osmar.  She is going to be sharing her stories with us as she prepares, trains, and runs her first Iditarod.  My class will be chronicling her adventures and will report them here for you to share with your students.

Here is an article to introduce your students to Monica.  We will be interviewing her at the end of the month and will get updates from her once a month or so leading up to the race.

Monica did a great interview with Mushing Radio, which you can listen to here:

One thing she talks about in the interview is that she doesn’t usually listen to music while she mushes, but that people have told her she will definitely need music on the trail.  Sounds like a great project for kids older than my third graders!  So those of you with older students, challenge your kids to come up with a playlist for Monica.  Have them create a playlist of ten songs that would inspire Monica on the trail.  Challenge them to support their choices with reasons.  If you send them to me at the email to the left I will compile them and forward them to Monica!

Read more about Monica here:  Meet Monica Zappa