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Nome delights visitors year-round Known as a rough-and-tumble, gritty gold rush town and the finish line of the renowned Iditarod race, Nome offers more than precious minerals and mushing. The Seward Peninsula city of roughly 3,600 residents located on Norton Sound in the Bering Sea might be remote, but that doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible. In fact, warming winters have opened up Bering Strait waters for all but the coldest months of the year, leading to construction of the nation’s first deep-water arctic port. Slated to be completed within the next seven years, the $600 million project will allow 4,000-passenger cruise ships, cargo ships, and military vessels to dock 10 boats at a time, providing supplies to isolated outlying villages, protection from the increasing threats of foreign vessels, and additional tourism revenue for a city on the isolated tundra. In addition to major cruise line guests and Iditarod race followers, birders…

Bull muskox spar by butting heads, sometimes running at each other full bore before colliding. Four inches of horn and three inches of bone protect the brain from injury during this violent contact. The first time I encountered muskox in the wild I felt as spectacular as Tom Cruise dancing around in his underwear and football helmet in the movie Risky Business. I was skiing across the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in March as mountains and the coastal plain glowed blue in the winter light. ANWR, long known as the battleground between wilderness and oil lovers, is the sort of place you can slow dance with your inner Frankenstein without the judgement of others. Better yet, it’s one of a handful of regions in Alaska you can see muskox. A herd of 15 grazed on a windswept rise above a frozen river ahead of me. A bull hoofed at…

The remarkable story of Mary Makriko [by Laurel Bill] THE QUEEN OF REINDEER, AS SHE WOULD LATER BE CALLED, was born in 1870 as Mary Makriko to an Inupiat Eskimo mother and a Russian father who was a trader on the Seward Peninsula. Raised in St. Michael on the southern shore of Alaska’s Norton Sound, Mary lived in a village that became the staging point for supplies bound for interior trade on the Lower and Middle Yukon River and a gathering place for large numbers of Alaska Natives who traded furs for European goods. In 1889, Mary met and married Inupiat Charlie Antisarlook, and the couple moved to Sinrock, near Cape Nome. Soon after, the reindeer came into her life. Serving as a translator for Capt. Michael A. Healy on board the U.S. Revenue Service Cutter, Bear, she found the vessel laden with reindeer in transport from Siberia to Alaska.…