Alaska – Been There
Nome, Alaska, the last frontier
Nome is the last frontier, where you never know what you’ll see next. A pet reindeer, being taken for a walk or a ride in a truck, is only one of the normal sights.
Nome is known for its epic drinking, intensified by its extreme life. As one local jokes: “This is a drinking town with a mining problem.” Breakers, one of its saloons, has a long red bar with weathered-faced men sitting along it. All the surrounding towns are “dry” so the Inupiak like to come into Nome, and sway drunkenly down the streets.
At the back of the bar is a pool table and I play with David, a Mormon who now lives here, having turned his back on his family and religion. A picture depicting the Robert Service poem, The Shooting of Dan McGrew, hangs above us and smoke curls into the air. There are no smoking bans here.
A shot glass is put upside down in front of me, a sign that someone wants to buy me a drink. The locals are all friendly and ludicrously a group of us end up jumping into the Bering Sea for an evening dip (it is freezing) and then spilling out onto the street for a pizza late at night. And yet it’s still light – this is the land of midnight sun. I don’t see darkness for my whole trip and feel elated from the constant light.
“I love Nome,” says photographer Gilles Mingasson. “In the U.S., it is one of the only remaining frontier towns, where you almost expect to see fights in the bars at night. People are there because they want to be left alone. That is why you move to Nome.”