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Outta Nome

Elim in winter. Photo: KNOM File.

It was about this time last year that I was scouring the KNOM website, reading up, exploring blogs, excitement ever-rising about the potential of the future. One of the things I remember from a blog of the past- the excitement at seeing trees again.

At the time it seemed silly, as I was surrounded with the things in my hometown of Buffalo. However when taking my first village trip out of Nome last week, I then understood what exactly was so exciting. For those who live in tree-covered places, never having a prolonged experience without, it’s hard to understand. They’re just part of the scenery that is always there, whether you admire them for their beauty and grandeur, loath them for housing birds that poop all over your car, or are indifferent to them altogether. But when they don’t surround you, in a place where your viewfinder options are the vast tundra, the mountainous terrain, or the Bering Sea, you get a little giddy when you see trees again. It’s perfectly logical, I think. As Em and I glided over the endless snow-covered tundra and admired the icy view, it was breath-taking. The snow was glittering in the sunlight, reflecting off the tundra and trees. It was so golden, so alive, I thought I must be dreaming. It gave the landscape a majestic, surreal feeling- ladies and gentleman, we are not in Nome anymore. As we landed I thought we had landed in the most beautiful place on Earth… the anticipation… the excitement!

So many trees!

So many trees!

And then, “stay seated, we’re just picking up a passenger and heading on our way.” Wait, where are we? White Mountain. Ohhh that makes sense. I’ve stories of how pretty it is there. Back in the air- goodbye trees! I’ll miss you!! But the trees didn’t go away, and after a quick stop in Koyuk, we finally made it to Elim, where there were, in fact… trees!

Look... not one, but TWO trees!!

Look… not one, but TWO trees!!

You know how you see pictures of “Alaska”, composed of snow-capped mountains in the distance, trees in the front, and sometimes a reflection of the scene in a body of water? Well that finally happened (minus the water). And it was incredible. Elim We hopped out of the bush plane and into the back of a pick-up that took us into town. It was there, at the school, where the career fair we were presenting at took place. Emily and I representing KNOM, along with others from organizations around the region, presented both middle and high schoolers with ideas and options for their futures post-graduation. We even got to do some fun activities with the kids, spot-producing and recording, which seemed to grab their interest after being talked at all day. After a full day’s worth of educational fun, we were ready for the trip home. One boy from the school ended up being at the airport, and kindly took my backpack to the plane for me. He was so funny and full of life, I am glad I got the chance to meet him.

Smiles from Elim

Smiles from Elim

Tried as I might to keep my eyes open on the ride home, I was lulled to sleep by the loud propeller and the satisfaction of a glorious day outside of Nome. They weren’t kidding when they said village trips are exhausting. I probably could have slept until morning, had it not been game night!

Back home in Nome (notice the lack of tree-age)

Back home in Nome (notice the lack of tree-age)


  1. Lucus on April 7, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I’m glad Elim is still a place of healing for the KNOM’ers. Visiting Elim is a memory I still cherish, and I can’t see a stand of trees without being thankful for their calming spiritual effect. Thanks for the wonderful reminder, and greetings from New Mexico!

  2. Patricia Pushaw on April 7, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    My husband and I worked in Northern BC in the 80’s with a native American high school (Farontier Apostolates) My daughter is now interviewing to be one of your volunteers. Your blog reminded me of the awesome feeling a young girl from Ireland felt when she first saw the Great White North. There is nothing like it………….