I got a chance to fly into Nome with pilot Wes. He took us on quite the sightseeing tour on the way. We flew over the trail where we got to see Aily Zirkle and Jeff King running. They looked like they were getting a little wind blown! Jeff was getting out his cooker as we passed him, so perhaps he was getting ready to feed the dogs a snack. We also flew over the town and checkpoint of Safety. The land changed again from hills to sea as we are now back on the edge of the Bering Sea. As we flew in we saw the dredge that I have seen so many pictures of. It’s left over from the gold days. I’ve seen so many pictures of it, it seems to be the picture that people like to take to show how much snow there is around. We caught a ride into town and passed the other big landmark I’ve seen so many picture of – the “Welcome to Nome” sign with the big gold pan in front of it.
After I got settled into my home away from home for the week at the church and had a fantastic dinner of fresh salmon, We went off to explore the town a bit. The Burled Arch is in place and a snow chute has been created in the middle of Front Street. The dreaded orange plastic fences are back! While I understand the need to create a safe barrier for the teams, I hate how they look in my pictures! We popped into the Mini-Convention Center which is serving as the headquarters for the race here in Nome. It’s pretty hopping! There are lots of volunteers checking in, the high school cheerleading squad is selling refreshments as a fundraiser and people are flowing in to get information about the race. They are currently thinking the first musher will be in between one and two am.
Nome is a pretty cool town. There are lots of historic buildings. I can’t wait to explore during the daytime and visit some of the visitor centers and museums. The story of how Nome got its name is pretty interesting. Apparently Professor George Davidson of the University of California traced the name back to one huge mistake. He searched every chart he could find of the region. It turns out that when the chart of the region was first drawn they realized that no name had been assigned to that point so they labeled it “? Name.” When it was transferred it was copied as C. Nome and thus it became Cape Nome.
Okay – looks like Aily Zirkle passed Jeff King just outside of Safety! Wow! She made up a lot of time! It’s going to be a long night!