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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 Photographer
Maria Stenzel
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 wasn’t 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 hadn’t 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 didn’t 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 we’re essentially beggars let loose in the field with credit cards. We’re 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 can’t always plan what you’re going to get. There was a wonderful randomness to that day.

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