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August 30, 2012: Road Trips

I really enjoy road trips; in fact, I live for them. Nothing’s as much fun as paring down one’s possessions and taking off, leaving all behind in a state of disarray, for someone else to take care of. I always envy others taking off on road trips, and I will never tire of them.

Rae’s being here was an excuse to trip the light fantastic. Ours was to be a short, three-day adventure, but nonetheless, an adventure. This one was not to be to an unknown destination, but rather to a known destination. We decided to go to Fairbanks, the place that I constantly return to, like a moth returning to light. This is a very apt descriptor.

We decided to go to Fairbanks because I know the place, and I know people there. So we pointed my little red car in the direction of where I used to live, Cloudberry Lane. Our destination was Pete and my good friend Nancy Fuller’s place. On the way we stopped several times, most notably in Cantwell.

There is absolutely nothing on the way to Cantwell, meaning no roadside services. Except for – the extremely defunct Igloo Gas Station and Grocery Store and Igloo Motel. Yes, the Igloo Motel is a building out in the middle of nowhere. Perfect place, I thought, for lunch.

Rae at the igloo
Rae at the Igloo on the Parks Hwy

Rae and I sat on the benches in front of the boarded up grocery store, and pulled our food out of our bags. And there we sat, watching other tourists pull in, take photos of the igloo, and pull out. It was cold, overcast, and windy, which was perhaps why no one lingered.

Rae is from Canada, a place which is civilized. And so, there is much she does not understand about America, which is uncivilized. One of these moments of incomprehension manifested itself when she saw the Igloo. Her thinking was that if it were in Canada, it would have long ago been torn down, because it isn’t up to code. She’s right – most if not all of the windows have been shot out, and there are huge holes in the igloo walls. There’s a lot of glass on the ground. It’s now also been discovered by graffiti artists.

I personally think The Igloo Motel is quite cool – I like seeing such an odd thing in the middle of nowhere. In fact, if I could, I’d buy it and fix it up. I’d turn it into a hostel and rest area. I’d serve snow cones to people, gratis.

As we were finishing lunch, we noticed that one set of tourists – a man, a woman, and a dog (a bulldog something else cross) were walking in the direction of the doorway. I remarked to Rae that I thought that this was odd – the door was boarded up. She said no – she was right – the couple entered the building. I wasted no time and followed on their heels. I’d been inside in the 1980s when Pete and I were given a tour by the then owner, and I had for some time badly wanted to go into it again.

The woman, hanging back, told me that partiers had recently been spending time in the igloo. This struck me as odd because they’d have had have to come a long ways. The nearest town is at least 50 miles away. My attention was turned to the man, who was by now on the far side of the igloo, and preparing to climb the scaffolding-like interior. I took a few steps forward, and asked him if he was going up. He said yes, adding “and I have a .357 magnum.”

Right then I decided to head back out. I was more worried about getting a bullet in my head than a nail in my foot. I ran back to the car and told Rae about the man, woman, dog, and gun. She again repeated that the building wasn’t up to code, and that it should be torn down.

Off we went, to Fairbanks, along the way checking out other stuff, like the Ice Classic Tripods in Nenana. You know, everything we looked at was oddly interesting. But in my mind, nothing held a candle to the Igloo Motel.

Next: 266. 08/31/12: In the Mind’s Eye