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I’ll Teller when I get there…

A view of Teller

A view of Teller, with the Bering Sea beyond

This weekend, Eva and I had a chance to travel to Teller, north and west of Nome on the Seward Peninsula. Here’s a map:

A map of the Nome Road system, showing Nome-Teller

Three roads. I’ve now been on all of them. Notice Teller to the West.

The Teller Road

Here, the Teller Highway stretches on, vanishing in the distance. The highway is only graded until August – It’s ok at the moment, but too much snow and it will be impassable.

Is there anywhere else in the country where you can say, seriously, “I’ve been on all the roads”? I can’t think of one, other than Hawaii and other islands – but even some islands have roads leading to the mainland (clearly, not Hawaii this time). The road to Teller is amazingly beautiful, with mountains in the distance capped with snow, and the brown tundra nearby looking lovely in the light of the sunrise. Occasionally, we’d see Ptarmigan or Ravens fly by – the Ptarmigan are turning white, and the ravens are, of course, black – giving a spooky contrast of flying and grounded creatures.

From the Teller Cemetary

Snow machines at the ready for the use of the newly resurrected, I’m sure.

Once in Teller, that spooky feeling kept up. There were few people outside when I made my rounds around the town – considering that there are only 250 people in Teller, that shouldn’t be very surprising, especially as there was a Volleyball tournament going on at the school. But the feeling of being alone in the midst of a town squeezed on two sides by sea meant that some of my shivering had nothing to do with the 20 degree temps and steady wind. Also, Eva and I decided that, after parking at the school, our first stop should be the graveyard. (OK, it happened to be on a hill, and we could see the town from there. But still – creeeeeeeeepy vibes, ok?)

After checking out the graveyard, and surveying the town from its hilltop heights, Eva went to get her Elder Voices interviews setup, and I wandered about the town for a few hours, taking breaks at the warm school building when necessary. The school is really nice – built in 2004, it stands out as the community gathering place as well as the place for students to learn. Also, there are wonderful murals and images inside and outside, highlighting the history of Teller and Alaska. My favorite? The zeppelin landing. Yes, the Norge, an airship from Norway (and Italy and America), landed in Teller in 1926 after landing at the North Pole. Imagine what that must have looked like – it was not a planned landing spot, so to the people living in Teller, a giant UFO slowly floats down and lands. Not surprisingly, it left a mark.

1926 - the Norge Landing

The Norge landed because of inclement weather – not pictured here.

A picture of the Norge

A lack of weather in this picture suggests it may have been also not above Teller. But it’s a good picture of the airship!








But we weren’t in Teller to take pictures of Zeppelins that no longer exist – instead, we were there for a Pancake Dinner in support of the Bering Sea Women’s Group and Teller author Claire Kennon. Or rather, Claire was presenting at the Pancake dinner, the proceeds of which went to the BSWG. And the presentation was powerful – a walk through Claire’s books, presenting the internal view of a child in a dysfunctional family. That child, Norah, develops Anorexia, and barely survives her attempts to fool her doctor and her family. Later in life, she spirals out of control, making poor choices that lead to being trapped in an abusive marriage. Alaska unfortunately leads the nation in intimate partner violence, and is near the last in the nation for people seeking help.

Banner on the Wall

Claire’s main point of the message was that the cycle of power and control can be overcome, by making the choice to move into a cycle of empowerment. She pointed out that, no matter what has happened, we always have a chance to choose to live, rather than simply suffer through life. Incredible messages of hope to an audience in great need of them. A filling message – with a filling meal. By the end of the pancake dinner, the Teller Youth Group was getting creative with their pancake making:

Eva with a Pancake Man

Eva enjoyed her “pancake man”, though we were sad that it didn’t get up and run away…


  1. Claire Kennon on October 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you for coming out and sharing Teller with a wider audience. Teller’s Youth Leaders will be excited to see your blog. Check out my new book trailer for “The Third Marriage” at http://youtu.be/4bEGXKhMpHk or on my website. It gives a little bit more insight into the books and how Norah escapes her abuser. Keep up the incredible work!

    • Claire Kennon on November 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

      Lucus, I will be presenting “A Portrait of a Survivor” again at Airport Pizza on Friday, December 7th at 7 p.m. With your permission, I would like to quote a few of your comments about Teller’s Pancake Dinner benefit in my advertising. Would that be okay with you? Thanks again! – Claire

      • Lucus Keppel on November 3, 2012 at 10:42 am

        Claire, that would be absolutely fine with me! I’m glad you’re going to be presenting again – and in Nome! Let me know if there’s any help you need getting setup, and definitely send KNOM an announcement to read about the event.

  2. Frank Topkok on October 21, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Very well written, Looks like a great scenic trip to my hometown on a beautiful day & a beautiful road. Thanks for this blog, I enjoy it very much.

  3. […] and Space museum if my parents would let me. If you’ve followed this blog, you may remember my fascination with the airship that landed in Teller (the Norwegian vessel Norge, if you’re playing the home game.) Yesterday, I felt like a kid at […]