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Full Circle

Day 10: Camp Island

Nome, Alaska, USA 
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A Nugget from Nome.
Michael Palin - Full CircleWe have now been marooned here for almost two days. The weather is worsening. Cloud and rain are descending and we can barely make out the low mountain horizon which we have all been scanning instinctively for so long.

Desperate situations breed desperate solutions. There is a plan that we should try to walk out from here to the town of Larsen Bay, 12 miles away. Scott reckons we would be risking injury and further delay if we tried it. He says that most of the grassland is bog. Kent flatly contradicts this. He claims he has made the journey before and 'it's like a walk in the park'. It sounds sheer unadulterated lunacy to me but there is an understandable fear that if we do nothing we shall not only lose our coastguard flight but also jeopardize our plans for filming in Siberia, which will then affect plans for Japan and so on.

The argument is temporarily decided by the increasingly poor weather conditions, as bad for walking as they would be for flying. Then, as the afternoon fades and we are resigning ourselves to a fourth night on the island, there comes the sound of a distant engine and, when we least expect it, the Beaver approaches low from the north.

Apparently there has been a brief lifting of the fog in Kodiak, fog that came down so low that, as Butch put it, 'if you'd dug a hole in the beach you'd have found fog in it'. Now the immediate problem is getting us back. There are strong winds and a forecast of heavy rain, so no time for fond farewells. My relief is tinged with a little sadness as I catch a last glimpse of the foxes on the shore gazing as curiously at my departure as they had at my arrival.

The journey back to Kodiak, at times, is perilous. We tumble about in the buffeting air currents and are flung around in the thick of ugly, unavoidable black clouds but relief replaces fear as we break through the last low barriers of mist and catch a glimpse of the flat-grey waters of the harbour below us. Butch becomes a national hero and the thirty-three-year-old Beaver the best plane in the world. Back at the hotel, the little box-like room with its smelly floor tiles is Paradise.

There is a message waiting for us. It's from the US Coast Guard. Their plane left this morning.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 10
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Camp Island - Alaska
  • Book page no: 27

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