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Full Circle

Day 6: Nome

Nome, Alaska, USA 
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Taking Nigel for a ride on the Golden Sands of Nome.
Michael Palin - Full CircleOvernight a powerful storm rolls in from the north. I hear the rain and wind beat against my windows and when I peer out I can see the Bering Sea is agitated and alarmingly close; long, rolling white-tops rush at the sea wall like lemmings.

Wake with a dry cough, incipient sore throat and constipation. Roger prescribes me various preparations from the homeopathic remedy kit he carries with him in a smart little case. There seems to be a pill for every ailment, physical or spiritual, including one for homesickness. It's a bit early for that yet.

Down to breakfast. Fat Freddie's is a warm, fuggy diner on the edge of the continent which produces fry-ups all day long. These seem to be largely consumed by big men with beards and baseball hats wearing fleece-lined Gore-tex jackets and given to staring out to sea and not saying much. The waitress takes our order, adding chirpily that fresh fruit is off today. I flick through a copy of the Tunnel Times, published in Anchorage, which describes itself as the official organ of a group lobbying for nothing less than 'the most ambitious construction project in the history of the planet'. This turns out to be the digging of a railway tunnel beneath the Bering Strait which would connect North America and Asia. It raises the prospect of some tantalizing rail excursions. Waterloo to Grand Central. Windsor to Washington. Bangkok to Bogotá.

I admire their audacity. Make a mental note to include them in my will.

Spread out some maps. At this moment an intercontinental railway could solve a few of our problems. We have to try to work out the quickest way to get on to our preferred route round the Pacific - anticlockwise down the Asian side and back up through the Americas. Because much of Siberia is inaccessible wilderness, the most northerly landfall we can safely make in Russia is on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The United States Coast Guard has offered to airlift us through the Aleutians - a necklace of islands stretching 2000 miles out across the Northern Pacific - if we can get ourselves to their base on Kodiak Island, a few hundred miles south of Anchorage.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 6
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Nome - Alaska
  • Book page no: 20

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