Day 5 in my new Nome Town

Awoke to a bright, sunny day! Can’t believe these blue skies and sunshine. The sun still sets late at 9:40pm, but we are losing 6.5 minutes of daylight every day, racing towards the equinox…and the dead of winter!  See the Nome sun table. Must enjoy these rays while they last!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In remembrance of 9.11, there was a guy running the streets of Nome, carrying a large American flag, and all the flags were lowered to half-mast. It never gets easier…

 

I stopped by the most inviting coffee shop, Bering Tea Co. (blog post about it coming up, because it’s so delightful) while I spent most of the day trying to figure out cell phone service. Verizon doesn’t work up here, so I have to get out of my 2-year contract that I’ve had for less than a year. Oops! :(

AT&T is the only nation-wide provider here, but they don’t have great coverage, nor do they have an office here for customer service. GCI has great coverage and service, but alas, they are only great in Alaska.

While I was in the GCI office, there was a walking cane left there, so the office staff were posting the lost and found announcement on NomeAnnounce and on facebook. The realtor was telling me how she has left her phone or her purse around, and people will call her and bring it to her. No worries if you lose something around here, people will get it back to you! Love small towns. :)

Walked around again–I will be doing a lot of walking this year, since I am carless. Can’t wait to get my bike, though, so I can cruise around town. :)

Sights from today:

It’s all good on the home front:

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A bright false front on a rusting arch shed. :)

I pass through Anvil City Square to short cut to home, where there are these Umiaq (local fishing boats) in the playground, which became my little cultural lesson from today. The signs on the playground tell the stories of these boats: they are covered in walrus skin- over the strong wooden skeletons are flexible to maneuver big waves and stormy seas, light weight in case the sea freezes over and they can be pulled over the ice, strong and able to carry heavy loads of freshly hunted walrus or whales. Full details below:

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“Umiaqs of the Bering Strait: Engineered by an ingenious people, the umiaq is a remarkable invention for surviving one of the world’s most challenging environments.”

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“Umiaqs and Angyaqs always: Long before the first explorers and whaling schooners sailed the Bering Sea, and a host of ships disgorged gold seekers upon Nome’s shores, walrus-skinned boats plied the Bering Strait. Today as barges deliver fuel and western goods, and aluminum skiffs motor the coast, the umiag-or angyaq as it is called on St. Lawrence Island–remains the boat preferred by the region’s Native whale and walrus hunters.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Riding the Seas: The umiaq endures not because of nostalgia for the old ways, but simply because it is the best boat for its purpose.  A 30-ft umiaq can carry a 15-man crew and a ton of walrus meat. Heavily loaded, the agile umiaq safely flexes over steep swells with only 6 inches of freeboard. If punctured by an angry walrus, the hole can be quickly patched on the nearest ice floe. If the pack ice unexpectedly closes, the lightweight umiaq can be hauled to the safety of open water.

“A Perfect Piece of Eskimo Technology: The umiaq’s wood frame can last for generations, but the skin must be replaced every three years. Female walrus hides are used for their consistent thickness and lack of battle scars. Wielding an ulu, it is typically a woman’s art to split the inch-thick skin into two thinner sheets. Depending on local practices, the skins are split either before or after aging, and then stretched on drying racks to cure. Softened in sea water, the now pliable skins are cut to fit the frame and sown with a waterproof stitch. Once lashed to the frame, the skins dry tightly to form a taught but flexible shell.”

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Simply wow!