I’ve heard people in Nome say that there’s a rubber band effect when leaving town. You move out of Nome to venture far in the world, but soon the rubber band snaps you back to Nome. I left Nome in June of last year, but I’m lucky to be back volunteering at KNOM for a week. I’m here to help with coverage of the Paul Johnson Norton Sound 450 sled dog race. It’s a race I worked last year and holds a special place in my heart.
I was a volunteer news reporter from 2010 to 2012. I had the coolest job in the state for those two years: I covered politics, gold mining, musk ox biology, bizarre arctic weather, and several sled dog and snow machine races. I’ll be back to radio sometime soon, but I’ve been traveling a bit since leaving Nome. I worked at a backcountry lodge in the mountains of Maine during the summer and fall. When the snow fell I moved west.
I’m currently working at a ski lodge in Alta, Utah. I ski some of the world’s best ski quality snow. It’s dry, fluffy, and comes in enormous dumps. 20+ feet on the year. I cook for the lodge to earn my keep. It’s amazing what food we are able to have delivered up to our lodge at 8500 feet. Think grouper, Ahi tuna, Waygu beef, and New Zealand venison. That’s for the guests though; the employees get the leftovers if we’re lucky. No complaints here.
Cooking and skiing powder are great, but it’s a real treat to contribute to the KNOM airwaves. The Paul Johnson Norton Sound 450 race is a tribute to Paul Johnson, a late community-minded musher. The race hopes to give upcoming local racers as well as established mushers a chance to compete across some of the state’s most stunning country, and to spend time in the communities along the coast.
This year’s diverse field includes Martin Buser, one of the Iditarod’s few 4-time champions, Alex Otten, a 20 year old musher from St. Michael, and 6 other mushers from across the state. I was on the trail last year for the first running of the race. It was a special experience to be on the ground with the mushers and report in from checkpoints. This year I’m getting my sled dog fix by helping with race updates throughout the day from the Nome studios.
I’m fortunate to spend time working with the extremely industrious and hospitable volunteer crew. It’s been a real treat to spend time with them and help bring the race to listeners across KNOM’s 100,000 square mile coverage area. I’d go on and on about how good it is to be in Nome, but I have to get moving on a race update! Thanks KNOM and enjoy race season in western Alaska!