|The view out my window, winter and today|
After 23 hour of flights, a couple hours of sleep, and one lost bag (yet to be found — I may be wearing this same shirt for a while..), I’ve made it to Nome for a second summer of arctic adventure. It’s a perfect day, 55 degrees, dry and sunny. Way better than when I got here last year in mid-June when it was 40 degrees and rained for a week straight.
It’s odd coming back. It almost feels like I never left, except for the fact that instead of the white blizzardscape I flew out of in March, it’s now back to its brown springtime muddiness that I remember from last year. The hills are still patchy with snow and sea ice floats in masses offshore, but for the most part it feels like a different world. If it weren’t for the extreme change in weather, I would hardly believe I’ve been gone 2 months.
Strangely enough, I had almost the same conversation experience on my flight today as I had with a couple last year. This time however, it was a man who looked to be in his 40s. He said something about icebergs as we took off from Anchorage and got pretty excited when I pointed out a moose, so I figured he probably wasn’t from around here.
As we descended in to Nome, I found out he was yet another newbie gold prospector, yet another unsuspecting victim of the Bering Sea Gold craze. Instead of coming to GPAA camp however like my seat row buddies last year, he was from Texas coming up here on a lark to see if anyone would hire him to dive for gold. At least he was dive certified, but from talking to him I could see he didn’t know much else about dredging in Nome and is probably quite unprepared. I told him a few places to start for information about the town and mining, but otherwise I kept most of what I know to myself.
After the usual chaotic scramble for the baggage claim in Nome’s minuscule terminal, it became clear that only one of my two checked bags had made it in. My Kelty backpack, which I had stuffed with most of my clothes, my jacket, and some camping gear, was evidently eaten by American Airlines somewhere along the way.
We waited and waited and waited while the TSA agents tried to figure out what to do and how to use the baggage tracking program on their computer systems (perhaps this doesn’t happen often here?), they took down my information, a description of the bag, and told me to call tonight after the last flight gets in. That doesn’t instill me with much confidence, but okay.
And so here I am, feeling like a loopy zombie in my sleep-deprived stupor, back in Nome Sweet Home. The good news is, I have my same room back, there are new coworkers to meet, the weather is great, and I have a lot to keep me busy. Once I get some sleep and my bag back, I’ll be golden!