Thursday, May 23, 2019

Driving Ms. Daisy

Yup, that's my job. We're at the 4 week mark from MPeasy's total knee replacement and I've been gardening, cleaning , cooking ( we've both lost 3 pounds ) chauffeuring , pharmacy tech , morale booster and with a new twist the victim of her new passion for playing Gin Rummy. But, the end is in sight. We're over the walker and onto just a cane and I expect that she has cabin fever as bad as I do so real soon she'll be pain pill free and driving again....THAT will be a big day for retired guide # 003.
On  Sunday night I just couldn't take it any longer, I've NEVER gone this long in the spring without running the river. It wasn't even a nice evening, it was a bit rainy so I told MP I'd be gone an hour...I didn't even take a fishing rod, I just needed to breath the Kenai. The tide was pushing as I rounded Beaver Creek and I had counted just two boats on the river, one of which was the ADF+G .....mmmm.... so on the way back I stopped and chatted with the other boat. They're some young guys in a smaller riveted boat that I've watched from a distance for years. They fish so much that at one time I told MP they reminded me of myself in the 1970's. I should have got a pic but Mike who ran the boat turns out to be Spence DeVito's grand son and he's also married to guide Bill Neiderhauser's sister...just as I thought, this guy has Kenai green in his blood. I shoot a short video to give you an idea of what this place is like when it's quiet and the river is low, just like I like it.
I've been a little blog lazy I know...so....Here's  Pro Guide Tip # 77 ... I've sat through many a water haul in my life so I learned the hard way that to much focus on the fish and not the fishing can be stressful, real stressful. So the elixir for that is simple and one of my moto's ' The Joy is in the Pursuit'. Or as my friend Willy said a few months ago " today it was for the soul and not the stomach". So instead we enjoy it all, the small things, the ...yup, wildlife. So here's my ' I didn't catch any fish' pic of the week. It really is a special place here at Mile 14, I took this pic from Mp's greenhouse yesterday...Please hang in there with me and I 'll see you next week with sonar counts, fish pics and maybe a an ADF+G  critique.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The nurse can see you now

What a life. I've been busy...but not to busy to work up a song that MP and I fell in love with. If or when you see Clint Eastwood's new movie The Mule do not leave before the credits role as you'll miss this Toby Keith song, speaks the truth.  Ever since we saw the movie a few months back at the Platino Cinemex in Mazatlan whenever I get toooo serious or start acting like a jerk or especially a mean old jerk MP reminds me...don't let the old man in.
Just this morning after I cooked bacon and eggs then washed the dishes I had the bright idea to dry the cast iron skillet by putting it on the stove on high for a few minutes and then put it away in the cupboard...what do you suppose I forgot to do ? Yup, I helped MP into the shower and then closed the doors behind me and started to the daily move of the plant starts from the house to the greenhouse. On about my 4th trip I heard the yelling and then the smoke alarms....damn....I will say however that the cast iron fry pan is about as clean as it's ever been.

Since I last reported into Mile 14 here not much has changed. But my patient is doing way better and I expect she will be released from 24 hour care soon and maybe even be able to drive by the end of this month, what a great day that will be ! And I mean really drive, not one of these geriatric bumper cars.
This next picture falls into ' holy moly, he didn't catch any fish so he posted a sunset picture again' category.
Give me a break huh ? I just never have seen cauliflower like that before, gorgeous huh ? just like a 35 pound shiney King salmon that I didn't catch.

And in the ' holy moly, he didn't catch any fish so he posted a sunset picture again ' category, phase 2...
Jeff's Soap Box :  When MP reads this she's going to say this is one of those ' don't let the old man in ' moments but I'm going to risk it. I suppose you all remember that a few weeks back I said I was worried about our town when I posted the pic of the massage parlor right nest to the gambling store which is next to the pot store which is next to an 'adult boutique...Well when I ride my bike at 7 a.m. I'm noticing a fairly new and growing sector of our town, homeless / vagrant peoples. Now I get the homeless part, misfortune and life's curve balls can get anybody at anytime and with another Alaska summer coming on what better town to camp in than ours, along the banks of the world famous.  It's gorgeous here and we have wonderful people to help everyone traveling through this planet....what I don't get is the loitering and public drinking / smoking / rudeness / part that seems to go with it.  Jeez you guys be a little cool O.K. ? And here's the ' don't let the old guy in ' moment...For all my neighbors, we need to stand up and get this all stopped. Is this how we want our visitors to view us, is this what we want our kids seeing as normal ? Do we want our old folks fore go their daily walk along the river because they are intimidated ? Here's a couple pics I took right in the middle of town. If any of my readers are Soldotna Police give me a call if you want and I can show you the jungle, but I suppose you already know....
See ya in a week...we WILL go fishin....

Thursday, May 2, 2019

What I've learned ....

is that I'm a jerk.  MPeasy's new knee is now one week old and for what I think is the first time in my post children years I'm thinking and doing things for other people way more than for myself, and it feels good. It's love. I guess it's human nature as  I've gotten so use to it that I've been taking it for granted. One of my maxims in life has been the recognition that no matter how cool a job you have, no matter how cool the spot you're living in is and no matter how big and plentiful the fish are it all becomes routine at some point....even love. So it takes awareness and insight to renew our experiences through appreciation and affirmation and I'm getting plenty of that right now....Post op.
She can't drive, She can only move with a walker for an hour a day. The ice machine has to be refreshed every six hours and all the meds are measured and laid out. She needs help into and out of the car when we go to rehab etc....in short there's a lot to do. AND then there's the things she normally does that I do also ....I guess I had forgotten or just got to be a jerk about noticing just how much she does here at Mile 14 everyday, and she makes it look easy. Cooking, cleaning, plants in, plants out, don't forget to compost and recycle....boy howdy....Here she is going to check the 'kids ' in the greenhouse.
Yesterday Dr. Reyes said she got a B for her hard work getting  range of motion. It's a painful procedure as well and she tolerates a lot now but will lose the pain eventually that she's endured for years. Of course she's doing it for herself but in our lives it's an 'us ' thing as well.... We want to live well, be active, squeeze this ol life real well until the bitter end, together. Improve her life, which improves my life which improves our life. Thanks MP, I love you.
Here's a pic of the meds that nurse Jethro Ratchet administers 3 times a day and then pain meds every 4 hours. What we've learned about pain is that prevention is the key. The health care professionals that I'm so impressed with use this term : you need to stay ahead of it.
I guarantee that real soon we'll fish mania again here at Mile 14 so I hope you all keep coming to visit. If I'm a little late with a blog entry ya know I got a good excuse, I'm busier that a 10 year old at the trout pond.

On our last walk before her surgery we came across this uniquely Alaska deal. This guy obviously has problems with a soft clay area during break-up just like we do at Stewart's Landing. One year MP suggested I just park the truck over it to keep people from driving on it and getting it all screwed up. Bad idea. The truck sunk 8 inches over night . So the second pic is how we handle that deal no, glad to see I'm not the only one with the improvisation.
So I'm looking forward to a GREAT fishing season and being able to do it like we did 37 years ago before I started to professionally guide fishermen. I'm in the process of looking for a boat with fewer seats and one of those rain covers I've kinda envied for years. ( If any of you Kenai people are interested in #003 the big black Alumaweld Super Vee just holler ) Of course there'll be some in season ADF+G management adjustments and the usual sport / commercial discourse....I'm just relieved to know the Feds are in town to take care of everything...or am I ? .....mmmmm.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Old

I guess the rub comes when you finally realize that...Being a 100 % guy I've always been a mind over body kind of guy and as the years go on I've  kinda been in denial about what I  can physically do and what I can't or shouldn't...as least as much of. I spent 4- 3 hour shifts this last week shoveling off the unusual amount of silt build up on the boat launch surface. Then it was up and down on my knees while I installed our habitat approved aluminum grated walkway and....my entire body ached for days. My knees were painfully throbbing, couldn't bend them hardly...I told Chris that I never should have taken that first shovel load and got a Bobcat or a loader down there. But you know me, frugal and bullet proof I felt committed after that first shovel load...to end the parable, the day comes when your shoveling career is over, embrace it Jeff, you've done ENOUGH of that *&#@.
In a fish bum's life you can collect a lot of cool stuff. I generally like new stuff but some of the past is kinda connects you to it all again.  Going  through my stuff as I get ready to break camp I'm finding stuff I had long ago forgotten. The coolest of all is this Ronco presents kind of fishing slide rule I guess you'd a call it. You look at the top and slide it to the fish you hope to catch and it tells you what kind of lures, line and locations etc. What kinda fish bum wouldn't need one of  these...mmmm....well it sat in archives for 45 years.
Someday I'll have a  guy cave with all my mementos . I know collectors like the product in it's original packaging so here's a small sample of the plugs and goodies that were never used...the pile of used ones is pretty impressive as well. Notice the cool packaged Kwikfish, the lure that turned the throttle up on salmon harvest on the world famous. I love the name of the ' Witch Doctor' and the hand carved Martin plugs are soooo cool.
Maybe we oughta get Team X northern division to do a 'retro ' fishing trip, We got all the lures we need so we'll just throw some monofilament on these guys and off we go. We'll go fish the ol Stump hole where I caught my first Kenai Salmon in 1971 and have a few Black Laber beers... we can even pull a spark plug wire off the motor so it runs like the old 18 horse we had. We'll use Borax cured eggs.
On the retro trip I'll get into my Beer can collection and we'll salt the  garbage so it looks like it's in real time. My collection are mostly pre aluminum cans from my youth and earlier. Do you guys remember those first generation pop top cans that could almost rip your thumb off trying to open  ?
My favorite beer can is this Oly  that was found in my Aunt Mary Jane's roof framing when her house was remodeled 30 years ago in Oroville California. Although I have much older cans this guy is special...it speaks. It's a pre pop top welded can that has been opened by what I assume was a framing ax and then discarded into the rafters. I can see it....it's Friday afternoon, the weeks over, it's quiting time and you've been framing in 90 degree weather for 8 hours. You buddy tosses you a cold one as you wind up your hoses and you take your ax and give er a couple perfectly placed whacks and walla....life is good.
The big news here at Mile 14 is that this coming Weds. morning my running partner is finally going to get her knee fixed, a total replacement. MP has been all over this deal and tolerated so much pain and adaption for her active lifestyle that it's time. She's has arthroscopic surgery, she's tried shoe orthotics, cortisone shots and even a guy in Mexico who wanted to do blood platelet treatment. So I'll update you all on her progress, it's a big deal but she'll do just fine , she's strong.
So I'll be helping her recovery while I work through springtime in Alaska. I'm like every fish bum in the area, we're waiting for fish to arrive, something'd gotta come floating by REAL soon. Hope you come back to Mile 14 to see what it is and when...

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What kinda guy

climbs over around and through glare ice for 1/2 mile just to find a pair of pliers ? mmmmm, well, it's the earliest spring salvage season the Pro's from Dover here at Mile 14 have ever seen. I actually only fell down twice which was incredible as the last thing I heard when I left the house was " are you taking your ice grippers ? "
Normally I do the salvage by sea but as it's still so icy I'm shore bound. The boat has it's advantages both with no walking and the ever present need to be Bear aware, when they come out of hibernation they're kinda dumb and kinda hungry...But it was 50 degrees and I gotta go, that river is my life ya know....and walla, even though very little bank is exposed right there in front of me gleaming away like a huge golden oak was that unmistakable shine of stainless steel...my first ten bucks of the 2019 season.
Seeings as I'm the guy who invented the sport it's just right that I should draw first blood. Now some of the new salvage operations might find better stuff later on depending on their feel for the river's rhythms but...this minnie pile is the first I'd guess... It looks like I'll be able to launch and go ' feet wet' in just a few days which is astounding as in all my years I've only ran the river once in April and that was at the very end of it.
It's been  just gorgeous since we've been home and the most orderly ' break up ' I've ever seen. We finally are doing all our hikes that are snow free.... here's the river from the bridge when we hikes the Centennial loop Sunday morning.
The only drawback  is.... as pristine and clean as Alaska is, in our town right now the air quality is horrible. There must be a better way. They use soooo much salt and sand on the roads that the street sweepers work night and day. They even use the ones that don't catch the material and are only brushes that just move it from one place to another. Everywhere you look is sand and dirt, I'm especially fond of seeing these black snow mounds everywhere, it's uniquely Alaska me thinks.
I wear a micro fiber neck gator and routinely pull it up over my face this time of year. If I'm going to get my 10,000 steps a day and lose those 10 pounds of Pacifico/tamale tummy I picked up I gotta go, go, go. Here's part of  a new mural we came across on the side of my old Alma mater , the Maverick Club, I picked out the fish part don't ya know. ....Ultra cool you guys , thanks for helping Slowdotna have some character.
I always had a feeling that being a Pro Guide was easier to get into than get out of...in a lot of ways that's soooo true. I anguished over our decision to retire but feeling better now. The mechanics of letting go works you through the process, closing your web page, getting rid of guide gear...and then the most obvious part of my old identity, guide numbers 003 have gotta go. As my readers at Mile 14 know I'm often critical of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. Well, I found something they're really good at....stickers, yup those green and yellow ADF+G football stickers are tuff. So call this Pro Guide Tip # 17 - That bottle you see in the top of this photo is the ultimate solvent called  De-solv-it much better than the Goo Gone everyone has.
It's slow tedious work and there's no way to keep from scratching the ol Minnow 4 a bit. But with a about 7 hours of patience and a few beers as well as two re charges on your blue tooth speaker it's walla....your once again a normal citizen of the planet.
Of course I could have kept my name, maybe even my number for nostalgia sake but you know me, I'm a 100 % guy. When all is said and done my reputation is important to me and I don't want to look like the guy who will go right back to being a revenuer when the King fishery recovers. I'm gonna try to fit in, be anonymous and try to not look like those illegal guides that I've despised for years...we'll see how it goes, should be a story or two in it.
Just like that...done....😢

Monday, April 1, 2019

And now it's just Stuff

My friend Dave Anderson says that one of his big fears is that if he dies his wife will sell  the fishing tackle for what he told her it all cost. So just this morning I was telling my friend Cody at the gym about the piles of 'stuff' I'm dealing with. Part of professional fishing is being prepared and redundancy is important, if something breaks you need another just like it eh ? So I guess it just happens, you move along and the years go by and you see the stuff accumulate but it's all work stuff, just like a carpenters tools and then : you ain't a carpenter no more and it's stuff, some useless. I was curious so I did something that I'd never done, I counted. This is what 62 reels, 60 rods and 23 landing nets look like,,,,,,,jeez....I love that stuff, but it's gotta go.
Here's something a fisherman will get a kick out of. Below is a close up of the ' DeVito Special' which was the must have lure in the 1970's King salmon fishery . Ol Spence just repackaged the Wardens Spin / Glo product after he put them on a wire spinner twist and added a big ol hootchie skirt and a lethal 7/0 siwash hook. If you didn't have these, you weren't fishing. There were so many fish in that era and it was before the high tech bait cures that we fished these without bait  to great success.  By 78 or so I was using thread to tie Borax cured eggs that were stained red with cherry jello onto the DeVito Special...
And naturally I had to have more than one...So if any of you want to take a trip down memory lane and go retro-fishing just swing by Mile 14 and I'll set you up with the hottest lure from 40 years ago. And oh...these babies sold for 5 bucks a piece back then.
A guy doesn't have to look very hard to know when It's time to move on...ya know, when you finish the book, close the cover. I got one boat that has grass growing in it and the ' fun' boat that Pauly left here has a tree growing through the fluted gunwale. Yikes...
Of course as I work my way around this change in my life I get a little nostalgic. I knew it would end someday I just didn't know it would happen so fast. So this summer will be special, we'll go back to playing the music just for us and fishing just for us...when we want, how we want, it'll be a nice change, the rewards of hard work they tell me.
Having made some serious $ at this and having a ton of fun it's always been my fondest hope that the young guys who come behind us would have the same opportunity to have such a wonderful guiding life. I carried the water, I served on Boards, I testified to Boards and Legislatures. I've donated money and been an outspoken advocate for sport fishing, guided sport fishing. I know the guiding thing is hard for some community people to appreciate, we take up a bit of their space, we have fun doing it, it's hard to look at it for what it is...a clean, renewable committed industry in a small town that could help send Soldotna onto a wonderful future...Wouldn't it be better to support and nurture this existing business model than accepting all the new, the change, just for money...there's just something wrong about these Chamber of Commerce types that think this is all fine...there's simply just something wrong here.

One thing will never change, it's absolutely beautiful here.  Rumor control had it that Beluga Whales are in the river already so MP and I went on photo safari. Didn't find the whales on that day but hey, with views like this who can complain...

Saturday, March 23, 2019

It's just a bit different

It's like silent, the air is clean and crisp, it's boy howdy dark at night and I have a feeling of well being and contentment. Now I know that in a few months I'll be itching for Mazatlan again but for right now I'm happy guy right here at Mile 14 of the World Famous. It's my place, my element. It's an amazing thing to me that with modern transportation your life can change so drastically so fast...A few Tanqueray's and 4 flights in 20 hours and walla, home sweet home....and as usual we forgot the blue print. Our house sitter locked the dead bolt that we don't have a key to because just a couple years ago we had Arkey the locksmith drill out the door knob when we forgot where we hid the key for that always forgotten ' safe keeping'.
Kinda cool that a 65 year old guy can still do that, of course I had no choice. I'm just glad there wasn't a sharp knife on or in the sink or I'd of had that vasectomy finally.

What a wonderful night we had. I played my guitars and then barbied the first steak we've had in near 5 months, a little Merlot and listened to the SoHi boys loose in the semi finals of the State B-ball championship by only 5 points....And sleeping soooo good, the King sized bed is big enough that when MP rolls over and throws that elbow like she does she can't reach me. And then we walk down to the river. The snow is going fast as it's not freezing at night. You've seen this shot many a time from our overlook, the river is clear and running high and maybe an entire month ahead of the historical ice out date.
I suppose it's part of the mild winters we're having but every spring I find more and more beetle killed spruce trees and they really change the look of the property. When the snows gone I'll fire up the ol Stihl Farm Boss and go to work, this year I'll have plenty of time.
Everybody that's been to the  paradise that is Stewart's Landing will recognize these two pics. The first is the parking lot and the walk way to the river and the next shot it from the launch looking straight down the river, gorgeous in a uniquely Alaskan way.
So I'm excited about the upcoming season. Ya know I've spent the last 37 summers doing my very best to help other people have fun and enjoy this special place...So this year I'm going to do my very best to help myself have fun so it should make for good blog editions. We'll be fishing but without some of the everyday routine of the past....like in the rain, in the dark, when there's no fish and we can go ANY time we want, it'll be great. I hope you all keep reading.