It was my last day in North Pole, gorgeous shirt-sleeve weather in the high 20s, and
Maria had wrangled us an afternoon of snowmobiling with a few locals. She rode shotgun
with one of the guys so she could take pictures, but I got my own machineand they were
lucky to get it back. Cranking across the frozen lakes and floodplains, I understood how
people get hooked on this place. I still dream of sunlit tracks and two-stroke engines.
For someone who hates Christmas hype, being sent to a place where the spirit of
Christmas lives year round sounded like being cast into one of Dantes frozen
circles of hell. Of course it wasnt that badthe people there were terrificthough I complained to myself about never being sent to Alaska when its warm
(this was my second March visit in a years time), I was probably lucky it wasnt
summertime. Yuletide decorations during the days of the midnight sun would have ruined me
on Christmas forever.
There I was, in the heart of Jesus Townthe complex of sod-roofed
buildings that house KJNP (King Jesus North Pole), the gospel station at the top of
the nationdoing the last thing I thought Id be doing in North Pole:
watching the filming of a TV program. The host, Dick Olson, wearing a chalk-stripe suit and
snakeskin cowboy boots, chatted up his guest from a big red chair in a set decorated with
velour wildlife-scene hangings. The whole hour I sat in fear of hearing, And guess
who we have in our studio tonight.