Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The world is not all the same.

Finally feeling 100% today I practiced my fishing in front of the unit for a few hours. MP and I had breakfeast and then decided to hop the bus and take our daily walk in oldtown for a good dose of Mexican culture and people watching. We walked then had a lunch of nice stomach soothing tamale soup then went to the central market and bought fish for supper and veggies to make ranchero sauce.
One of the first things we came across was this beautiful Christmas tree. It must be Mazatlans official tree as it sits proudly in Revolution Square. Its made of clear plastic Coke bottles with different colored water in them. Cool.

In Mazatlan you can take a number 2 bus for 50 pesos or a number 1 bus for 90 pesos. The extra 40 pesos gets you air conditioning and these wonderful Tecate Beer safety hand holds for when you have to stand up in a crowded bus. Now if that ain't worth another 30 cents I don't what is.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mile 5,414

Thats as far away as we are from mile 14 I figure. Getting started here this year has been difficult and I meant to publish sooner, and with pictures. But as luck would have it I got sick right off the bat and just now I relized that my computer won't recognise the brand new memory card I bought for the trip. The good news is that if I weren't writing the blog I might not know I was taking pictures I couldn't use. So I have another card that works and next time action photos.

Anybody whos had a good case of the 'touista/infirma can tell you its no fun. You'd think I'd get used to it as its a yearly event but theres some things in life you'll never get used I guess. I came home from fishing out north with my friend Slah and MP had a fresh tamale for me. She asked the man what the meat was and he said "bif". I went to the gym to work out and oh baby my guts were rockin and then home, sick, hydrate, sleep....better.

I had a picture of my first case of Pacifico as it struck me funny. One thing that is enchanting about Mexico is that everything happens slow, everything, except that is beer delivery. On sunday I take my case of empties from last year and 190 pesos to the front desk. They make a call, the truck arrices and exactly one hour later a knock on the dooe announces we have beer to watch the Broncos get creamed with.

Tourism here is way down, more than last year. Our first night we went to 0ur favorite place Are Lu Lu in the Gold Zone. Its a great place and has been around for 20 years. They had 2 tables and did something I'd never ever heard of in Mexico...they lowered the price of the tequila.

I did catch my first fish of the trip monday morning. we went out north to look for the rooster and all that happened is a school of what they call "loco fish" swam by. They call them loco because they jump and go crazy and you almost never land them as they are so soft the hook just pulls out. They're about a foot long and skinny with big scales and a forked tail. The Mexicans swear by the ceviche it makes. This year the water is unusually warm and all the experts say the fishing will be difficult. Its always something eh? To much tide, not enough tide, to warm, to cold...should of been here yesterday.......Later

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Me and MP

Being full of love and goodwill during Christmas Season I thought I should write about love itself. Like many a love story from the early 70's of Montana ours started in the bar. After a night of dancing I left my coat knowing she'd feel obliged to return it and I'd see her again. She did and our first date was the next weekend to a Bachman Turner Overdrive concert in Missoula. It was chaperoned, me, her and my good friend Jim Hunt, and I think we took Luke Jims dog. During the concert I of course had to get to the front row and MP being reluctant got seperated from me. During the encore the band threw white roses to the crowd and I caught one for MP. When I found her in the parking lot she wasn't quite as mad as she would be if that had happened now but she was still steaming pretty good. I on the other hand had a real rose to give her and the left side of my brain thought that made it all OK....This I guess signaled things to come.

What first attracted me to MP was the simple fact that she was actually interested in me. I guess thats the feeling of love, when you can't believe they really actually like you. She drew wonderful artwork that intriqued me and she signed it MP Brown so walla, I started calling her MP. Me being a bit on the selfish, egotistical, independent side as a young man made our first few years a bit difiicult. Alot difficult. But her heart trumped my stupidity and we were set for a life together.

One of the best things shes ever done for me is she gave me Alaska. On July 27th 1973 I was in a commercial fishing accident. I lived, my friend didn't. I went to Montana feeling done with Alaska and met MP. She came up with $600.00 from a school grant and offered to take us to Alaska with it, I wanted to buy a color T.V.. We had a wonderful time, we'd work in Alaska all summer and fall then go ski in Montana for a few months and then return for another hitch. They say time heals all wounds but for me it was MP. But in the winter of 78 I got the marriage, no MP. Now I got to looking at this beautiful, sharp, interesting and fun woman and then thinking about Soldotna during the pipeline boom and even the most selfish part of me had to admit I'd be complete idiot if I didn't get married. So here we are 33 years later.

We've been through alot and I don't want you to think shes perfect, just perfect for me. She makes piles, she's the only person I know with junk drawers in the beverage holders of the cars. She loses money, she finds money. She snores. She has this maddening way of shaming me into doing the right thing. Its easy I guess, I could do the wrong thing but I couldn't ever let her down so...I do the right thing. Well, you guys all know those feelings.

So the next Blog entry will be remote from my 2nd home, Mazatlan....and yup, she's coming with me.......All our best in 2010.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Man Hunt at Mile 14

Living on the edge of civilization here at Mile 14 has its challenges.
Last nights events are a good example.

At 3:30 we were awoken by Jet-Dogs no B.S. bark. I grabbed the gun from the bedside table and went to her in the living room where she was looking towards the river. It was fairly light with good moonlight reflecting off the fresh snow. I could see nothing. I went to the kitchen to look the other way towards the neighborhood and standing in the lot next door about 50 feet away is a guy in carharts. I can't believe it. I open the garage man door and yell "who are you", "stop right there". As he walks toward the road he tells me he's doing nothing wrong, just going home and he swears by his daughter that its true. I decide I'm going to grab him and take a few steps out the door with no clothes on and he takes off running down the road towards the subdivision. I go in and call 911.

Two Trooper cars arrive within 5 minutes. The snow is fresh and they easily track him through the subdivision to the highway then through some yards back to near our house where he ran behind a house then slid down bluff to the river. ( the river is open and running but frozen from the bank out 10 feet or so). The troopers are hot on his tail as he heads up river to the Big Eddy area where like here is little access. So they drive back and forth on Big Eddy road knowing he has to pop out somewhere. I get in the truck and help. At about 5:30 am they arrest a person for disturbance coincidently in the same manhunt area. One trooper car takes this clown to jail while the other an me continue to look. At 6:30 am they get a call of a break and entering taking place on Big Eddy Road. Yahtze, game over. They arrest a young guy wet from the waist down and having no shoes on.

As there is nothing down river from us I need to know where he came from. so when it gets light Roy who owns the cabin at Fall-In-Hole and myself back track this idiot. It took us 3 hours. This guy was seriously lost in the woods for a long time and 2 or 3 miles worth. He came down from the highway and was trying to find Roys cabin as he knows that its a safe place isolated from the road sytem. Why we're not sure yet. The good news is he's in the crowbar hotel. At one point this guy literally walked in circles for over a mile. He must have been frantic and hypothermic when he finally stumbled upon the Boat Launch road and had to risk walking through the property to get out. His tracks went around our house, less than 10 feet from our bedroom window.

This was pretty exciting to say the least. Its all part of life at Mile 14 I guess.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Its all in the Music

If I died tomorrow I hope somebody somewhere remembers me as a musician. Its by far the hardest thing I've ever accomplished. Not being naturally talented at anything my secret to modest success is simple...hard work and practice.
Naturally through the years my learning has been influenced by the people I've met along the way. I had a guy named Mike Casey show me how to play an E chord using my little finger so I could then bar it on up the neck. Big break through, I was now playing Louie Louie, Hang on Sloopy and Wild Thing. Then in High school my friend Dave Williams convinced me that with a C, D and G chord progression I could play almost anything, Country Western that is. He also convinced me that you need to be really loud as quite often people will talk over you or maybe even turn the stereo on when you're playing. Then in Alaska my friend Steve Blossom taught me my signature song, Taxi. Then my friend Stan Kluth came along and taught me alot. The biggest thing I learned from Stan is that he's just plain and simple a gifted fantastic musician. When we'd play together I'd get lost from listening to him instead of playing music. He also taught me to write down my song list, he being a bit older than me knew about the upcoming memory lapse deal. Then my friend Ben Ellis came along and I learned to change the tone of my voice from moving to and away from the Mike. I also learned that just the right amount of really good Tequila can enhance your sound.

So today I practice an hour most nights. When I turn the amp on Jet-Dog goes into the bedroom and MP usually migrates to back of the house as well. Afterall, she's heard my newest song Lacey J Daltons 16th Avenue 134 times already. In the summer the equipment and me go to the garage. Every aspiring musician has heard their parents say " take the *%#@ out in the garage". Well, I'm still in the garage. Right now my biggest challenge is learning to run a drum machine that I have. I figured to really fill in my sound for the tavern I need some acompanyment and seeings as I've never kept time well the drum machine is a perfect fit. But its a complicated machine and I can tell mastering that deal is going to be way difficult.

For me the music is everything. I like the sound and most people respond to it, one way or another. Through the years the music has been a steady friend, giving me joy and comfort.

The top picture is of me trying to sponge a few free cervesa in front of the Mayan Palace in Mazatlan. The second pic is of me and Sam doing a duet. Who would have ever thought that a guy like me would rather hang out and play music with his kid than almost anything in the world. The 3rd pic is just me doing what comes kind of natural if you let it...howling.

So in a few weeks me and the black guitar will be in Mazatlan. I have many friends who enjoy some party music and I'll play downtown here and there a bit. One of my favorite things is to play at my friend Rays clothing store. He and I swap the guitar back and forth and it creates a real fun atmosphere while he sells his goods. See all you guys real sooooooooon!

Monday, December 7, 2009


I used to be soft and flabby. Now I'm just flabby. Six years ago I had an awakening, I was weighing 245 pounds and I relised that the next step 250 is an 1/8 of a ton. So as my way of doing things goes I jumped into the gym experience with both feet. At first its a bit initimadating and knowing absolutely nothing about weight lifting I wasn't seeing much progress. But low and behold as I went along I learned it all. Stridations and vascularity, cardio's and fat burns, carb loading and protein shakes, french curls and flys, theres just alot to it I found out.

Theres a certain wonderful dynamic in the gym that takes a little getting used to. The young guys that come in call it the 'showroom'. Where else in society do full grown secure men routinely tell each other they look good? Where else can you look at yourself in the mirror for 5 minutes and have it be normal ? Where else can you grunt, groan, sweat and slobber and have it be normal ? So as you can tell I was made for the gym. Everyone in the gym has the same simple be healthy. The support and motivation is really the key to making progress in the gym. Its the people that make it work.

This is a picture of some of my friends. Candy and Josh Braud on the left and Geof Bonin on the right. These guys are SERIOUS bodybuilders. Josh has won the overall at the Alaska IBBF state championships making him Mr. Alaska. Geof has won about everything he enters and was named Mr. Anchorage a few years ago. I told him that as far as I was concerned that made him Mr. Soldotna too. These friends have been an immense help to me with diet and lifting technique. Although I do wonder about Josh's future in politics. I was having elbow pain and I went to ask him for advice....first thing he said "have you considered you might be to old for this?"

This picture is my friend Bernie. This was a few years back when he placed 2nd in the GrandMasters division. I believe at the time he was my age now, 56. Bernie was one of the guys that first inspired me in the gym. He's upbeat, interesting, healthy and around the gym he's gracious with his time mentoring and helping everybody. Like Reggie Jackson, Bernie is the straw that stirs the drink. The next picture are the strong guys in the gym. Rex, Lorenzo and Scott. These guys are incredible and when they're lifting you can feel the pavement move in the parking lot.

When I started in the gym I had no idea where it would lead. Besides the obvious I have had so many other wonderful benefits. I've met alot of new friends. I listen to my I Pod all the time and so I've learned new song after new song. I think I do my job with increased energy and I look forward to new challenges. MP and I always have that time together coming and going from the gym. Like everything she and I support each other at it.

The last pic will give you an idea of where I'm at with it. Alot of the supplements are everyday things that people should take. Some of the others might be voo-d00 or they might not be. All I know is I feel great and if its all a placebo effect....I don't care.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

43 Years of Guitars

My first was a Kay brand Acoustic Archtop with F holes. My dad paid 35 bucks for it at a music store on the main drag of Barstow California in 1967. I think it got picked out for the price as it wasn't the kind of guitar that a 7th grade wanna-be rocker would want. As I look back now, that Kay guitar was beautiful and might have been the nicest I've ever had, and I've had a few.

So I get this huge Acoustic guitar while all my buddies had electric guitars with amps. Mike Casey had a Fender Mustang, Steve Ashford had a Sears Silvertone that was metalic red. So to my parents credit, after one whole year of sniveling they allowed me sell it and then go to the Fort Irwin PX and buy a made in Japan hollow body electric guitar. I was set. Kind of. It wasn't long before the bridge seperated from the sound box making this guitar almost impossible to play. So, a couple years later in Denver Colorado the folks got me a Yamaha nylon string folk guitar. It actually helped me alot as I learned a little finger picking and how to sing Peter, Paul and Mary's 'Leaving on a Jet Plane'.

So now I'm in High school and the folks aren't sponsoring the music habit anymore. I worked as a Lifeguard at the YMCA and at $1.25 an hour earned enough to go down to Clarks Music store and buy a regular old run of the mill, plane Jane Yamaha steel string acoustic dreadnought style guitar. This was the guitar I dragged to Alaska to play on the beach. This was the guitar I dropped in the creek at Roger Nelsons cabin and had to shake water out of the sound hole. I kept this guitar for many years but I still had to upgrade so I traded it for my first acoustic-electric, an Ovation Celebrity Balladeer with the round plastic back that never fit my body especially in my 'large years'. This was in the 80's and I also got an Aria acoustic dreadnought from a guy in the Maverick Club that needed a hundred bucks to visit his ailing mother. I still have the Aria and Sam and I both agree its a great guitar.

By now its the mid 90's and I need something nice and the Ovation just wasn't working out. So I take it to my friend Mike Silba at the Music Box and he trades me (and considerable $$$) for my first nice guitar. A Black Takamine G series electric-acoustic. I loved this guitar and it inspired me to practice. Then as I'm prone to do I gave it to Sam one night in a beer fueled spell of generosity. So now I'm down to the Aria, so its finaly time to upgrade considerably. After hinting for years to MP and leaving the Musicians Friend catalog open to the Martin page I finally said screw it and ordered my dream guitar, in fact just about anybodys dream guitar. Its a Martin HD-28 Vintage with an slick Fishman Eclipse pick-up system. My friend Hobo Jim plays a Martin and this might be the finest sounding rythme guitar ever made. But now I have a problem . I need a guitar for everyday use and one to take to Mexico so I start researching medium priced guitars when my friend Anita Archaleta gives me Jimmy Buffets License to Chill CD for my birthday. In the CD is a picture of Jimmy walking the beach at sundown with a guessed it ....Black Takamine F series guitar over his shoulder. Well, thats was good enough for me. The black Takamine is the guitar that I travel with and play daily. Talkamine calls the F series their 'keystone series' and theres something about that I like.

The third guitar in the picture is my Gibson. I think I was driven to this guitar by the need to get something cool like I could have used in high school. You know, the mid-life deal. I'm actually not very good with the Gibson but its just a neat object. Sam can make magic with it. Its a 1979 model called ' The Paul'. It was meant to be a no frills version of the Les Paul and is known as a work horse by giging musicians. I saw it on Craigs List and got it from a well known musician up in the Valley by the name of Wes Hamrick. I told him to stop by anytime now that we're related.

I now own 5 guitars but as my friend Dave Unruh says, "only 3 that matter". So thats the guitar story. Check back and I'll relate 46 years of struggling to play them...........

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The PineApple Express

It hit last night. Warm moist air from the south moves north to collide with stagnant arctic air and the next thing you know your power is out. In the morning the town is hushed and dark and the 6 to 8 inches of wet gooey snow have trees bent down and broken. The radio reports 2500 homes without power, I think thats just about everybody around here.
So today my job was snow removal and driving MP to work and back. Of all the machines I own the snowblower is my favorite, theres just something magical about it after 25 years of shoveling. The machine labored today to do the 40' by 60' foot area that leads to the supposedly borrough maintained road. That plow usually comes within 2 days of a dump like this one so in the meantime we use the big truck and leave the Subaru in the garage. Its raining right now. In town the storm drains are blocked and theres puddles deep enough to drown a cat in. Then the way this deal works is the PineApple Express loses out to the cold arctic air freezing everything solid. So stand by for the next entry that could be called....'Driving on Glare Ice with People in a hurry'