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  Field Notes From
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From Author

Glenn Hodges

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From Photographer

Maria Stenzel

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Maria Stenzel

luggage tag
At North Pole, Alaska

Field Notes From Author
Glenn Hodges
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 machine—and 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 Dante’s frozen circles of hell. Of course it wasn’t that bad—the people there were terrific—though I complained to myself about never being sent to Alaska when it’s warm (this was my second March visit in a year’s time), I was probably lucky it wasn’t 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 Town”—the complex of sod-roofed buildings that house KJNP (King Jesus North Pole), “the gospel station at the top of the nation”—doing the last thing I thought I’d 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.”

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