Katie O’Connor: Enjoying the Open Water


Towed behind an 18-foot Lowe powered by a 90 hp outboard, close friend Jake Swann zipped through the hot sun, throwing a flamboyant rooster tail. And O’Connor—a professional photographer—snapped the shot.

“I love showing that we can do pretty much anything that the L48er's can!” O’Connor said.

Jake (who grew up in Nome) had returned that summer with his family to work with O’Connor’s partner on a mining project. But almost every weekend, they all drove out to the family cabins on the Kuzitrin, 67 miles north of Nome on the Kougarok Road.

“Joe (my partner) and Jake (good friends) love to horse around during their slow time while mining out on the ocean and in the local rivers,” O’Connor wrote in an email. “Several locals own jet skis and almost everyone owns boats, occasionally towing skiers, wake boarders and tubers.”

Like many places in Alaska’s Interior and Arctic, a Nome summer can usher classic barefoot and swimsuit weather, with temps hitting 80s and 90s inland. With a 350-mile network of roads providing access to beaches, historic sites, tundra wilderness, natural wonders and Native culture, Nome residents embrace their country with a passion. They go berry picking, fishing, hunting, birding, gold mining, hiking, camping, boating—and take dips in local hot springs.

“Summers in Nome open up a door to outside opportunity that has been closed so tightly to most people all winter long,” O’Connor wrote. “People who live in Nome really live for the summers.”

They also love visitors. There’s so much to do, O’Connor said. “If people are scratching places in Alaska off their list of places to travel, Nome should definitely be one of them. … Nome is truly a magical place.”

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