Glenn and I were feeling kind of low one morning. Both of us were having a hard time
developing the story. We thought an Alaska setting should be wilder than this small town
outside Fairbanks. And here we were covering Santa Claus when it wasnt even Christmas.
Then Glenn told me it was his birthday, and he really wanted to celebrate by going to
Fairbanks that night to see a movie.
We both loved the movie. It cheered me up and made me feel that whatever happens in North
Pole happens, and that was OK. Then, driving back to North Pole after midnight, we looked
up and saw the northern lights. I had been trying to photograph them but hadnt captured
them the way I wanted. I was sure that the only reason I saw them so perfect that night
was because I was out late with Glenn on his birthday. It was a nice gift for us both.
An ultralight plane is like a little lawn mower flying through the sky. I always wanted to go up
in one, so I grabbed the chance and hired one to shoot aerials of the town.
We were up about five minutes when the pilot said, Maria, do you mind if we land for a sec?
The ultralight might be hesitating.
I didnt hesitate in telling him yes, land. When we got down on the ground, he changed the spark
plugs, and I (against my better judgment) went up with him again.
The whole scene with the emergency landing had me so flustered that, while I was up there
fumbling around trying to rewind my camera with gloves on, I hit the wrong button. When I
opened the back of the camera, a ribbon of exposed film started flapping in the wind. I
just stuffed it in my pocket and started over.
When we go on assignment were essentially beggars let loose in the field with credit
cards. Were just hoping that somebody will be nice to us. Dave Kacal, David McCarter,
and Pat Wheeler went beyond niceness when they offered to take us snowmobiling, the
recreation of choice around North Pole.
We started out by barhopping. I got my first photo opportunity of the day at Moose Creek
Lodge, where we ordered up some beers and witnessed a couple exchanging wedding vows. Then
the guys took us to Chena Lake, where I came upon a father, his daughter, and her friend
ice fishing. We just rode up, and I got the picture.
You cant always plan what youre going to get. There was a wonderful randomness to that