ORONO – Sally Brooker wasn’t quite sure who her husband was bringing home for dinner when all he’d say was that the “Pit Boss” was coming and that he could “really shovel it in.”
It wasn’t until after she had made extra food for the mystery guest that she learned the Pit Boss was a $60 shovel that would prove key in creating the igloo now situated on the Brookers’ front lawn.
The couple’s first attempt to build the snow structure for their granddaughter, 2-year-old Madyson Trundy, wasn’t successful.
After doing some research, Rick Brooker learned of Igloo Ed, the ICEBOX and the Pit Boss.
The Brookers first attempted to build their igloo using 10 dish pans to form the snow into blocks. They’d take the pans one by one into the house to let the snow melt slightly so they could pack it in tight.
“It was a long process,” Rick Brooker said.
And their work didn’t last long. As soon as the structure was completed, rain came and washed it away.
That was when Brooker, a welding and pipe fabrication teacher at Eastern Maine Community College, began looking online and learned of Ed Hueser, also know as Igloo Ed.
Hueser developed the ICEBOX, which can be purchased for about $180 and makes the igloo-building process much easier.
Sally Brooker said her husband wanted to do things right, and insisted on having the same shovel that Igloo Ed used to build his shelters – the Pit Boss, an extendable aluminum shovel designed to easily be packed away and weighs about a pound.
With the ICEBOX and the Pit Boss in their possession, the Brookers went to work.
“I thought it was a pretty ambitious endeavor, but I went along with it,” Sally Brooker said.
With the more than 1-foot-thick base of the original igloo still in place, the Brookers began building igloo blocks last Sunday, and the structure was completed Tuesday.
“We had to wait for the snow,” Rick Brooker said. “We were chasing snowflakes.”
Building an igloo definitely is a two-person task, the couple stressed.
“It requires a lot of teamwork to put it all together,” Rick Brooker said.
As fate would have it, it rained again the day the igloo was completed. But this time the Brookers were ready and covered the snow bubble with tarps so that it survived the warm weather.
Although originally designed for his granddaughter, Rick Brooker plans to take his igloo building skills on the road.
“I’d like to be able to build one out on the ice for a shelter for ice fishing,” he said.
That way there’s no pressure to get the shack off in the spring and the igloo does a great job of keeping out the wind and retaining warmth.
A couple of candles lit inside are enough to add some heat, and on Saturday afternoon although it was 14 F outside, the temperature inside the igloo was near 30.
The Brookers put the igloo to the test Saturday night and slept outside.
“It was quite comfortable,” Rick Brooker said. “I think that it’s a perfect shelter for winter camping.”
For information or to purchase Igloo Ed’s ICEBOX, visit www.grandshelters.com.