IT LIVES AGAIN
Here I am in Nome, again! For a conference! This time, instead of being semi-nomadic (Or… NOMEadic? Puns!), bopping uncertainly between a hotel and the park service bunkhouse, I am settled into the very cozy guest bedroom of a friend I made last time through Couchsurfing.
What else has changed in Nome? Well, last time it was early fall, aka wearing a sweater and a raincoat and freezing my butt off, and this time it’s spring, so I’m wearing a sweater and a parka and still freezing my butt off! Well, the first day of spring, which means that it’s nine degrees and there’s snow everywhere, and the ocean is still frozen up. But the sun is nice! Everyone is psyched for spring and a little manic with the sunshine and the bright gleaming snow, except for my poor seatmate on the plane from Anchorage, who has sensitive eyes because of a medical condition. You have never seen such giant sunglasses. The hardest part for me is the dryness, not the cold. I’m a creature of humid lands.
Yesterday, TBBFITW (The best boyfriend in the world!) took me to the airport at 4:30 AM, like a champ. I could barely keep my eyes open on the flights, even though the scenery was spectacular around Anchorage, snowy mountains like giant albino barnacles. It was also my first chance to check out sea ice in the daytime, since it was dark almost 22 hours a day when I was in Barrow in November.
The Iditarod ended a week ago, so everything is still all spruced up- one new store, one new restaurant. Supermarket prices are still crazy-high compared to Seattle, and my host actually requested that I “pay” for my stay with fresh herbs. My suitcase still smells like basil, cilantro and lemongrass!
I finally went into Chukotka’s, a gift shop that wasn’t open when I was here last time. In addition to their large selection of Russian goods (I guess you can see Russia from here?), they have a surprisingly AWESOME book selection, including a lot of out of print stuff. I got “Under the Arctic Sun: The Life and Times of Frank and Ada Degnan,” by Frances Degnan, who I met last summer in Unalakleet, and “Tales of Ticasuk” by Emily Ivanoff Brown, who sounds like an amazing woman that I’d like to know more about. I also picked up “The Earth is Faster Now: Indigenous Observations of Arctic Environmental Change” which I first heard about in Iceland last year, but have never physically seen before. Books! I’m so excited to read them. I tried to find some souvenirs for my labmates, but failed. We’ll see what I can find.
I went down towards Middle Beach, and was lucky enough to see the last Iditarod dog team in town, from Racing Beringia. The dogs were exhausted and sleeping on piles of hay on the snow. They were so cute and friendly! I have now been licked on the cheek by an Iditarod dog. I guess that kind of makes up for missing the race itself. Apparently, a team of volunteers maintains the dog yard. Cool gig.
My host has a truly giant bowl of fresh king crab that he caught here in Nome in the fridge, so we combined it with the herbs from Seattle to make green crab curry! Another great example of Alaskasian fusion, like the maktak with kimchi I had last year!
Today has been sunny again, but I’ve been too busy working on my conference talk to go for another long walk. Tonight, it’s crabbing and then a barn dance at Old Saint Joe’s! Time to go pull on the long underwear.
Still technically have a paper to turn in from this quarter. School, you are a fickle mistress.