Monday, March 15, 1993
And all this suffering and sleeplessness and staring at little doggie hinders for 1100 miles, what does it get you? A ride down Front Street and a ticket to Nome's annual bacchanalia. The old Gold Rush town, where the black beach sands once shimmered with gold and the biggest town north of Seattle momentarily prospered, pulls out all the stops, awakes from its winter hibernation and proceeds to behave very badly.
That would be Nome's mayor over in the Nugget Inn, refereeing the wet t-shirt contest. And that would your pilot, the man in whose steady hands your life is held every day aboard that tiny two-seater plane, lying face down in a pool of something nasty. And that would be the esteemed members of a Famous National Sports Program, building a pyramid of beer bottles to make the pharaohs weep.
And this little party all spills out into the street to greet the winner. The firehouse siren bellows and so does the mob, and I'm half surprised dogs and musher alike don't turn tail and run the other way, but there's something about a $50,000 check and new red pickup that keeps things moving. That and the promise of a hot shower, a clean bed and food that doesn't come out of a ziplock bag. And after the cheering, the picture taking, the check passing and the hugs from delirious well-wishing strangers, everyone adjourns to the bar to rehydrate and wait for second place. And third. And as long as it takes. It's not like there's much ELSE to do in Nome this time of year.
And that snowmobile ride? Well like I said, it SEEMED like a good idea. But looking down from no small height, I started to wander if some of the stuff my sixth grade teacher said about me wasn't right after all. I hit that hard blue ice and rolled like a rag doll thrown from a moving car. But it wasn't so bad. Not really. I had a big time reporter from Detroit off on his first trip to the Great White North, riding on the seat behind me.
Those big city guys always have plenty of padding.