Arctic Roadrunner

August 9, 2013 – 1964 was a hell of a year in Alaska.  It started out as nothing out of the ordinary.  But on March 27th, Good Friday, at 5:36 p.m. the second largest earthquake in history struck.  Centered about 70 miles east of Anchorage, the earthquake, which scored a 9.2 on the Richter scale, spread destruction across the state’s largest city as well as numerous coastal communities in Southcentral Alaska.  Officially it lasted three or four minutes, depending on which scientific paper you read.  But by my watch it went on for five and a half minutes.  Seemed like five and a half years.  Seemed like forever.

The next few weeks were difficult.  Recovery didn’t come easy.  But we survived.  We rebuilt our city.  And we all had a hand in it.  Today the only sign of the earthquake that I know in Anchorage is the slight grassy slope at the west end of the Park Strip.  That slope is the only place you can actually see the fault line that crossed downtown Anchorage, destroying much of it.

Well, there is Earthquake Park out by the airport.  But after so many years it’s pretty much a nice wooded area with hiking trails meandering through it.

That same year Dick Sanchis decided to open a hamburger stand on Arctic Boulevard.  He appropriately called it the Arctic Roadrunner.  And he made some of the best burgers ever.   

He still makes great burgers.   He has a bigger place now, perched on picturesque Campbell Creek.  Three rooms of booths surround a large stone fireplace.  The walls are covered with pictures of longtime Roadrunner customers, copies of newspaper clippings that Sanchis finds interesting and quotations that he considers motivational.

I love Arctic Roadrunner burgers.  Every time I come home I have to have one.  It’s just not coming home until I’ve been to the Roadrunner.

And I always order the same thing.  A pepper burger.  Large beef patty, fully dressed on a bun, covered in cheese with a slice of roasted poblano.  Crispy fried onion pieces.  An Oreo milkshake.   The burger is deliciously juicy and messy to eat.  The onion pieces have just enough grease to make them taste like fried onions should taste.  And the shake, well, I don’t even mind when the little pieces of Oreo cookie jam the straw and I have to clear it.

Those are the treats that welcome me home.

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