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Full Circle

Day 3: Nome

Michael Palin - Full CircleDespite these inauspicious beginnings Nome has survived ninety-seven years of fire, flood and disease and though its population has settled down around the five thousand mark, it doesn't seem to have lost any of its spiky individuality. From the outside, the clap-boarded Nome Nugget Inn looks like a fairground attraction, with carved figures of doughty moustachioed gold-panners and the obligatory multi-branched milepost: 'London 4376, Siberia 164'. Inside, it's a cross between a bordello and a natural history museum. The burgundy walls around the narrow reception area are hung with picks, shovels, harpoons, an Eskimo drum made from dried walrus stomach, a fishing float, even an entire kayak. A stuffed ptarmigan scratches itself above an old-style Western bank grille and the skins of grizzlies, wolverines and Alaskan lynxes lie flattened on the back wall like the bodies of cartoon characters who have just run into it.

I take a walk up Front Street, clutching my place-mat from Fat Freddie's which is full of useful information. 'Nome has thirteen churches, three gas stations, nine saloons and eight points of interest.' All I can see at the moment is a large number of unsteady people weaving their way up the sidewalk, occasionally shouting some blurred greeting.

'You Korean?' is the one that throws me most.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 3
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Nome - Alaska
  • Book page no: 16

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