Klondike Pizza founders, Mike (Musher Mike) and Pam (Polar Pam) met years ago on the Noluck River in Alaska. Mike, who received his Ph.D. in Ornithology (the study of birds) at Harvard, was having a great day hiding in the bushes watching the nest of the Arctic Pygmy Dodo Bird – long thought to be extinct.
F.Y.I.: The first recorded mention of the dodo was by Russian sailors in 1552. In the following years, the bird was hunted by sailors and invasive species, while its habitat was being destroyed by loggers. The last widely accepted sighting of a dodo was in 1762.
Needless to say, Mike was pretty darn excited. He’d been observing the tiny Dodo couple (and now the eggs) for several months and had already published one article in the prestigious Journal of Ornithology. Now he was waiting for the eggs to hatch. This discovery was going to put him in the Encyclopedia Britannica, and Harvard had offered him a senior professorship. Fame was just around the corner, and Mike was giddy with anticipation.
Pam’s dreams of attending the French Culinary Institute and then opening a 5-star restaurant in her hometown – Chicken, Alaska*, had been dashed when she was only 15. Her thrill-seeking father had suffered a terrible allergic reaction to her homemade trail mix and nearly choked to death while climbing Denali Mountain. Guilt-ridden because she’d forgotten that her dad was allergic to peanuts, Pam swore she’d never cook again. So she went to work as a logger to support her mother and 7 older brothers.
One day, while demonstrating to her logging crew how to safely walk across a log jamb, she accidently set it lose. Clinging to a log, she careened down the Noluck River at a breakneck speed. A sharp turn in the river sent the logs crashing into the shore, hurtling Pam into the air and landing her in the bushes. On the nest. The Arctic Pygmy Dodo has been officially extinct ever since.
Was it love at first sight for Mike and Pam? No. But due to Pam’s multiple injuries, Mike was forced to take her to the hospital, and while she was in traction, he visited her every day and soon love bloomed, and they married.
Unfortunately, Pam’s logging days were over, and Mike had become the laughing stock of the birding world, so they both needed new careers. But what do you do when the only thing you know is Ornithology and logging, but you gotta make a living? You open a restaurant, of course! And even though Pam swore to never cook again – opening a Pizza Restaurant actually brought her back to her original dream …except for the 5-star part of the dream.
It was Mike’s idea to have the peanuts, and that’s been a problem for Pam, but considering that she’s the reason he is referred to as a “Dumb Dodo” in the birding world, she figures she owes him.
* The town wanted to be called Ptarmigan (the state bird), but nobody knew how to spell it, so they named it Chicken. This is actually true.
Really, seriously, and truly, that was the last tall tale.
Click here to read the Original Klondike Story.