Thursday, December 31, 2015
New Year's From a New Perspective
We all watch television and look on the internet to see what the rest of the world is doing to celebrate New Year's. It's the modern era, and even if we're out at a party or standing in Times Square itself, we wonder what the rest of the world is doing at midnight to ring in the new year. So, it's not a great travel spot, but it did interest me a great deal, so I bring you two of the most unique islands in the world. Big and Little Diomedes. You may ask what is so unique about two frozen pieces of ice. Well, let me tell you, coming from someone who is completely fascinated by Alaska and Russia, they are really something. There was a point where the whole world was talking about the statement that Sarah Palin made about being able to see Russia from Alaska. Sounded stupid, right? Well, Little Diomede Island is in Alaska and Big Diomede Island is in Russia. You really can see Russia from Alaska.
The native population was removed from Big Diomede Island during the Cold War and is now strictly military. Not to say that people haven't visited there, but you would have to get permission from the Russian government. In the winter you can ride a snowmobile over there if you like. The Bering Strait freezes solid for a couple of months each year. On Little Diomede Island is the village of Inalik and you can visit that town anytime. You may need to make arrangements for a home visit, but the locals love visitors, so check it out. About 130 people live on that island year round. It's easier to get there in the winter than the rest of the year, so visiting for New Year's is perfect.
So, what's so fascinating about this place other than the fact that they are only 2.4 miles apart and are representing two countries that have a sordid history? Well, the time difference, that's what. The time difference between these two islands is 21 hours. The International Date Line runs right in between them. Big Diomede is called the Island of Tomorrow. There is no place else on earth, accept some places around Antarctica where the dateline is so close to both sides. They are far from pretty much everywhere else, but they are very close to one another.
The village of Inalik is on the west side of the island, and about four hours ago as I'm writing this, Big Diomede Island celebrated the new year. If there were fireworks, the people of Inalik could watch. As I'm writing this, Little Diomede Island will be celebrating the new year in about 17 hours. If there are any fireworks there, the Russians can watch them. It's a unique view of the world. It's something that you can't get anywhere else.
So, on Big Diomede Island; Happy New Year! On Little Diomede Island; Happy New Year's Eve! I hope that I get to experience that one some day. It's truly unique and no matter how unstable the relationship is between our two countries, they are neighbors in the Bering Strait. I have heard stories about travel between the islands. I bet they make pretty good neighbors. After all, the natives that used to live on Big Diomede Island were somehow connected to the natives on Little Diomede. So wherever you are, enjoy New Year's. It's a great time for fresh starts and putting the past year's bad things to rest. It's a great time of year, so enjoy!