Unlike other commercial hubs in rural Alaska, Nome is a “wet” city, with bars and liquor stores. Nome has many of them for the three-fourths of the Alaska Native population that has an alcohol problem, which greatly concerns Pastors David and Julie. At this bar, the sign below the word “Saloon” says, “Headquarters for the Sin City of Nome.”
Pastor Julie’s and David’s Methodist Church is Nome’s oldest Protestant Church, established 1900.
I went with Pastor Julie to radio station KICY, where she broadcasts a weekly half-hour sermon. KICY is the only U.S. radio station that can legally broadcast into Russia. It focuses its 50,000 watt signal on Russia every night.
Julie and David also work with the Thrift Store, which is next to the church.
Nome is far from home, about 3,400 miles. The North Pole is much closer, just 1,759 miles, and Nome is only 141 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race starts near Anchorage and ends here in Nome more than 1,000 miles away. This famous race is the most popular sporting event in Alaska. It commemorates the most famous event in the history of Alaskan mushing, the 1925 serum run to Nome.
A diphtheria epidemic threatened Nome, especially the Eskimo children who had no immunity to the “white man’s disease.” But the nearest quantity of antitoxin was in Anchorage. Both of the planes in Alaska had never been flown in the winter, so the governor ordered the serum to be sent by train 298 miles to Nenana, where they passed it just before midnight on January 27 to the first of twenty mushers and more than 100 dogs who relayed the package 674 miles from Nenana to Nome.
The dogs ran in relays, with no dog running more than 100 miles. The Norwegian Gunnar Kaasen and his lead dog Balto arrived on Front Street in Nome on February 2 at 5:30 a.m., just five and a half days later. Here is the sign today on Front Street.
Here are typical homes in Nome. Typical, except for the pelts drying in the front yard and other local decorations.
This morning just as the sun rose the moon set. This is the view from my favorite (essentially the only) restaurant here, The Polar Cafe.
No matter how far we go in this world we all share the same sun and moon. And Earth.