Thursday, May 18, 2006

Countdown: five days

In five days I'll head from Newark, NJ to Nome, AK. It’s 33 degrees F there this morning. Brrrrr…. Nome dots the coastline of Alaska’s Seward Peninsula, just south of the Bering Strait. The town is a major shipping hub for the region, but Nome is best known as the finish line for the 1,049-mile-long dogsled race called the Iditarod, which takes place at the end of March each year. This wasn’t always the case. Around 1900, the name "Nome" was synonymous with "gold."

More than 12,000 gold rushers poured into Nome off of steamships at the turn of the 20th century after word spread that "three lucky Swedes" found gold in nearby Anvil Creek. A few gold mines still operate in Nome today, but now tourism has replaced gold as the lure that brings visitors to the town. In fact, about 20,000 flock to Nome each summer to view wildlife and birds, fish, hunt, hike, learn about Alaskan native culture and more.

Check out the online Nome photo gallery. Of course, you won’t want to miss photos of Velvet Eyes, Nome’s goodwill ambassador reindeer.

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