Going to Nome, Alaska, was one of our greatest travel experiences. At first we felt stuck there and craved an exit, but 3 days later we were in awe of the place and having a fine time with the bird watchers. They flock to Nome about the time of the summer solstice each year to sight rare species that come up the Asian flyway. This is said to be the only place in North America to see them, the birds that is.
What we finally realized that made this trip very worthwhile was 3 roads out of Nome worth exploring. The first one we took was the Nome-Council Highway. This road was 57 miles long, and we found it drivable and well-maintained the entire way. The town of Council is now mostly abandoned and has reverted to its native name, Akauchuk. Once larger than Plockton, Scotland, Council was the scene of a gold discovery in 1897 near the Niukluk River. When we were there, the only gold being found was on beaches closer to Nome. Now this town that once contained thousands of humans is only inhabited in the summer about the time of the solstice when it becomes a fishing camp and a retreat from Nome. There were many people there sunning themselves when we arrived. They come to Council to see a few trees. We looked for trees in Nome and found exactly one, and it was best described as scraggly. On the way to Council we kept stopping to enjoy the scenery but regretted it every time. Stopping meant scores of swarming mosquitoes. We headed back to Nome when we found no bridge across the Niukluk and didn’t dare do what the natives were doing, crossing it in their cars. The people of Nome were mostly end-of-the-road types with the men loving it while the women wanted to leave.
The 2nd road we drove was the one to Teller. There was a native fishing camp called Nook 10 miles from Teller two centuries ago. Over time Teller became a Lutheran mission. When we were there it was rapidly losing population and was clearly a subsistence community. Since then the 200 or so humans still living there are fighting a rising sea level. Teller was about a 2 hour drive from Nome. There was no one on the road but Ruth and me the entire time. It was a Sunday morning but that probably did not affect the lack of other vehicles.
We did not have the inclination to do the 3rd drive when we learned that it ends at a river bridge and found that it’s not possible to drive into Taylor. The Nome-Taylor Highway is also called Beam Road.