The second road from Nome heads toward the town of Council. It parallels the Bering Sea‘s coastline for miles. Rough waves splash sprinkles of water over the sea wall onto our windshield.

Our hearts pound fast when the four-wheel drive Dodge slides on the slippery, rutted road. One flip over the rocks would spill us into the freeze of turbulent waters.

Many gold mining operations, (they mine their own business) from commercial to individual gold-rushers, line these shores. Major construction projects build better roads and sea walls in support of a newly needed infrastructure.

Small homes line the beach and provide a place to dry fish, escape during the summer, and warm-up in winter when the Iditarod sled dogs howl towards the finish line.

Fishing season has ended, and the Safety Roadhouse boards its windows until March, when it will open for the Iditarod and serve as last stop before the finish.

Boats continue to dredge for gold, some with floating backhoes.

When the Bering Sea freezes over, fishermen cut holes in the ice and drop crab pots to catch King Crab. We would love to see that, but are…too early.

Remnants of the once booming community of Solomon tell the town’s story on a boardwalk display. The Last Train to Nowhere sits rusting in the tundra, since being abandoned in 1907. The ambitious railroad made it 20-miles short of its goal to reach the town of Council.

We walk through this area with an eerie feeling envisioning a lively town full of saloons, hotels and miners during the gold rush of the 1800’s. Ferries brought supplies and influenza, which all but wiped-out the Eskimo Community of Inupiaqs, who naturally were the first residents. Most were buried in a mass grave in an unknown place under this shore.

The area around Solomon also attracts birders and hunters. But where are the Musk Oxen? Mare and I are on a mission to find them with only one more road left to roam.

We roll into downtown Nome just in time for dinner with Jeremy.  What are the odds of knowing someone in Nome? This gateway to the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve holds artifacts of peoples dated up to 10,000 years old. Mare and I are practically on another planet.

We met Jeremy several years ago in the southernmost town on the South American Continent – Puerto Williams, Chile. He had just completed his Master of Science in Recreation. (Wish my school had that major) Seems Jeremy, Mare and I share a passion for extremes. Originally from New Jersey, he hadn’t even visited Nome before accepting the position of Assistant Director of Recreation.

“I’ve been here three and one-half years now. He smiles. “I love it.”

“What do you like best?” Mare asks.

“My job is awesome and I have gotten involved in the community. It was the best thing I could have done on many levels.” He removes has hat and looks to be my son, if I had one.

“I never had good luck with the ladies in the lower 48, but here I am a catch. Of course, that is just because I don’t beat women up and I have a job.”

More laughter and drinks to our table, at the Husky Restaurant, which serves the best Japanese food in town. by Ron Mitchell

%d bloggers like this: