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No place like Nome

You can’t be a Wandering Alaskan if you don’t wander. In addition, I really should wander in my home state a lot more before I wander outside. I have done pretty well in the last 24 years, managing to wander in almost every nook and cranny this great state has to offer. There are only a few places left off the beaten path. It was time to visit Nome.

Image of a map of Alaska pinpointing Teller, AK

Teller, north of Nome by 75 miles is one of the destinations this weekend.

Image of a map of Alaska showing the Teller Road, Kougarok Road, and Council Road

300 miles of road form a pitch fork near Nome. We intend to cover them all.

Originally, Michael and I were going to ship the motorcycles up here with us – there are over 300 miles of remote dirt roads to explore divided into three roads (basically a pitchfork). It looked very doable until we learned the shipping company needed a two week buffer on each end of the trip for estimated arrival dates. Add the week we were going to be in town, and suddenly Nome was going to tie up nearly five weeks of short motorcycle season. We opted to not ship the bikes and instead rent a jeep. Our intention is to still explore the remote area, take it easy, photograph, and blog. Our plans to camp also altered into a B&B just outside of town on one of the dirt roads. After a bit of research and tips from friends, we settled in to a very nice (by Alaskan and Nome standards) place, the Dredge No. 7 Inn.

We checked in at the airport and noted the airport abbreviation for Nome is “OME.” We moved on to security and watched the TSA scan fishing cooler after fishing cooler, and settled in for the wait. A woman in front of us had a child that was testing out her lungs to see how many strangers she could make wince. “Waiting with the wailing” – hmmm there is a name for a blog, I think. Michael scanned her carry-ons to determine if she had tags labeled “OME,” she didn’t, thank god.

Our flight out of Anchorage stopped in Kotzebue. While waiting at the gate in Anchorage, I couldn’t help but smile at the folks getting ready to board the plane. You can definitely pick out the locals from the tourists. The locals are wearing shorts and rubber boots (sometimes together), sweats, and tee shirts. The tourists looked like Indiana Jones, ready for an expedition – hats generally included. Either that or they are dressed in head-to-toe camo, the price tags still dangling.

Image of Kotzebue taken from inside a plane

Flying into Kotzebue, Alaska. I am always amazed at how different and gorgeous Alaska can be.

Image of Kotzebue taken from inside a plane

Leaving Kotzebue.

Image of Nome taken from inside a plane

Arriving in Nome, Alaska.

In Nome, we participated in “combat luggage retrieval” in baggage claim; my first in Alaska. The Barrow airport made the Nome airport look bad; but then at least there was a building here! Very small airport to accommodate fewer flights, two chutes – luggage pounded into the space, people gathering to grab in such a small area…. Reminded me of fishing on some of the rivers in Alaska!

Image of a pile of suitcases in disarray and many people standing on the outskirts trying to find their luggage

“Combat Luggage Retrieval” at the Nome airport.

We quickly grabbed a couple of seats in one of the cab vans. There are only a few vans and once they are filled you might have to wait until they drop everyone off and return. Once our cab was filled, we headed out to the parking lot, the driver went the wrong way on a one way. This was mitigated by him also driving off the road to the side – in case right way traffic showed up. Michael glanced at the dash (he is a mechanic) and noted that every warning light that could be on was on. Michael was hoping this was not insight into the condition of the rental vehicle we were picking up in the morning. We got to see the other lodging options in town as the driver dropped all the passengers off one by one. We made a great choice!

Image of a car dashboard with every single warning light lit

Every light on in the dash. Taxi cabs of Nome.

The last guy in the van needed chew and asked the taxi driver to stop so he could fill his pockets. We dropped him off at one of the mining operations. He lives in Oregon and works in Nome as a mining engineer; four weeks here, two weeks off in Oregon.

We arrived at our B&B and saw a small herd of musk oxen grazing and resting just across the road. A sign greeted us on the door of the B&B:

Image of a note posted that reads, " Caution musk oxen may be in parking lot. Do no approach. Keep Alert!"

Beware of musk oxen

We settled in and realized we had no food, or worse, beer. One of the guests in the B&B offered to run us down to get a few items for the room. We have set a new record for a six pack of beer:

Image of a six pack of beer priced at $18.95

Six pack in Nome – $19.00.

Welcome to Nome.

“Happy 4th of July"
No cops around this time – Thank God!
About Maya

My name is Maya, and I wander.

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