Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Whole 105 Yards

Well you know its the in between season and you're on the verge of serious cabin fever when you find yourself at the High School football field casting your surf rod. But that's what I did this last week as I wanted to accurately measure and not just guess at how far I can chuck the 3 ounce Ranger Lure.
I have a new surf reel that's special made for long casting. The reel had a long and tapered spool that makes for less friction and keeps the line closer to the a 'full' look. It also has a manual bail so you avoid the mid-flight bail closure that can cost you and it has an anti reverse that prevents the spool from trying to creep backwards as is the case with some cheaper reels. So I spooled the reel up with about 100 yards of backing then a 300 yard spool of 40 pound Power Pro to get the line to within an 1/8 inch of the spool lip. That is one of the advantages of the braided line and helps with distance, with mono filament this would be seriously over filled and give you lots of headaches. In this picture you can also clearly see the BreakAway Canon that I think is one of the big keys to long distance casting. I then take the hook off my 3 ounce Ranger and tie it to 4 feet of 40 pound mono for a shock leader, this stretch helps with the distance too. My rod is a durable 15 foot Cabelas Whuppin Stick surf Rod.

The football was field was frosty and they had a 'field closed' sign on it so I stood next to the field and chucked a practice cast onto the soccer field next door. Gorgeous sight, the plug arched away and burrowed into the turf like a lawn dart....I had to go retrieve it. So, no more practice, the next one I'm aiming for the goalpost 110 yards away. I let line out of the reel until I have it hanging at my hands, maybe 12 or 14 feet and hook the line into the Canon. I then swing behind me and let the plug pendulum until its toward me and just a bit slack, a big step forward and a nice side armed start to the cast that ends totally overhead. ( you get speed from the side hand but it has to go overhead for accuracy)....I don't mind telling you , it even impressed me, the plug arcs high and long and maybe a full 3 seconds later lands half way through the End Zone. 105 yards, 315 feet....

So now I know. In Mazatlan we're always guessing as to how far it actually goes. I figure with a little warm up and ideal conditions I can hit 130 yards. My friend Slahs' technique is better and he routinely hits 150 yards I'd guess.....So now I got the itch, I just need the scratch, fishing the beach and not the Football field.

My fish/people counter tells me that 10,000 times people have come to my blog now. I'm simply tickled with the response. So for my part I promise to continue making this fun no matter how tempted I am to blog about Tuesdays election. And of course I learned my lesson, I'll never post another pic of me in a speedo...what the hell was I thinking. I hope you guys all continue to comeback and read the news from Mile 14...Get out and vote, here's a pic in that spirit. I found the flag in the River and will dispose of it respectfully and properly.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bearly Making It

One of the reasons I started writing this blog was because it was pointed out to me that life here at Mile 14 is , well, different than other places. So I guess this pic of MP on her first day back tells the story. I don't know but I don't think most people walk the dog armed every time, and around here lately you'd be nuts if you didn't. Its getting old, the bears are everywhere. The next pic was the scene this morning. A big browny woke me up at 4:30 and once again was hard to chase off. He was either a lone bear or I expect maybe the surviving member of the duo that's been around all summer. In any case he dragged a bag of trash half way down the road and destroyed a couple of garbage cans. I guess the options are these....I can invest in the expensive bear proof cans. I can snuff the bear. I can put all the garbage in the house. I don't think I'll do any of those three. MP's solution is way more creative...keep the garbage in the back of my truck. What?...So my truck can look like these garbage cans? And smell like them too? I don't think so. But she did have a fall back plan that we're trying, dilute the area with the smell of ammonia and things bears might not like. We now have bear paths that are almost Timothy Treadwellian if anybody remembers him. They seem to use the same routes to and from the river and like to pile salmon carcasses about 500 feet inland right by what we call Lovers Lane. My friend Mike Dinkle who is a real outdoors man around here tells me that this bear or bears could stay all winter. Well, ole mister bar ain't gonna bother me a bit in sunny Mexico. And yes, I feel safer there than I do here right now.

I have a new camera. Its a Panasonic Lumix and I couldn't be happier. After doing my research (this time) I knew to buy it or a Cannon. So I'm taking lots of pics and came across this Sea-Eagle. In most parts of the world seagulls just fly and swim as they have web feet, but here on the Kenai we have these high bred's that clutch trees and perch, waiting for prey just like their larger cousin the Real-Eagle. Pretty cool eh?

This last pic I'm printing big as the light and everything was just so wonderful when I walked Jet-Dog the other evening. When its just right like this it reflects off the water and the clouds and mountains all at the same time, just like with Mazatlan sunset pictures I can't keep from snapping more. Guess its appreciation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


You gotta admit that's an impressive football score as our Soldotna team beat Kenai for the State Championship this weekend. It has to be some kind of record for total score I'd guess. But the coolest thing is Player of the Year awards went to a Soldotna running back named Robbie Smithwick who's father drowned in the Kenai River this summer. All of our town is happy and sad at the same time for Robbie.

But while the football players were in Anchorage local athletes like this guy were competing in the 1st annual Soldotna Bike and Skate Challenge. I was impressed, I had no idea we had extreme sports guys here who can do 360's and flips just like on ESPN. Our new Mayor sponsored the event and he's doing a great job of community involvement. Years ago when I was a trustee at the Elks Lodge we had some extra gaming money to spend and after listening to many proposals we settled on the equipment for this skateboard park. For the first few years the facility was somewhat abused but as the years went by our kids rallied around it and now its a center for the young people who aren't all cut out for the traditional school sports. Its exactly what we'd all hoped for when the place was built, a great addition to our town. As you can see theres alot of graffiti that some would call vandalising, me, I figure its just a way of customising the place.

Well MP's been gone exactly a week now, yup, seven full days. She went to Montana for her mom's 85th birthday party and to see her huge family. I decided not to go but I think next year I'll be rethinking that know how I like lists, they add a little structure to my decidedly unstructured life, so here's a short list of things I've learned since she's been gone.

1. Wine glasses break really easy when you wash them.

2. I'm not Jet-Dogs only passion.

3. People say "wheres MP' ? instead of "hi Jeff".

4. Mile 14 is REALLY quiet at night.

5. If you play the guitar for 4 hours your fingers will look like this.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just doing what Bears do

All season long we've had an ongoing brown bear experience here at the boat launch. We've had the dumpster turned over and many mornings tracks and sign around the gutting tables, I ran two out of the parking lot in the middle of the day about 3 weeks ago. But Sunday night things went to defcon three here at Mile 14. Just as we were getting to sleep Jet-Dog let our her no B.S. bark. I grabbed my spotlight and the gun and just right out the slider I scared off a brown bear, MP saw him pretty good. We went back to our bedroom that faces the river and my fish cleaning station as well as the garbage cans and put the spotlight on. Not one but two 200 to 300 pound brownies were making their way through the garbage, doing what bears do I guess. We watched them for several minutes and then scared them off by beating on the window. Just as we're getting back to bed here they come again, Jet's howling and they're just cresting the hill behind the house so I fly the door open and yell and chase and off they go.....pretty exciting. Here's the scene the next morning.
The next pic is the trail they're making down to the river. These two bears have been around for a month or so now and its occurred to me that they could be intending to hibernate here on the south facing slope along the river.
So every time we walk the dog for the last month or so I carry the shot gun and we talk loud. I got to asking MP what she does on the few times that I'm not around. She says that she sings....I asked her "really, well what do you sing" ? She says she sings BINGO, bee eye nnn gee that got me chuckling pretty good. But, I just put MP on the plane for the 48 and its me and Jet-Dog alone here at mile 14, Jet's a pretty smart dog but she doesn't talk so well. So I kinda sense my self singing a bit on the next walk.....bee eye nnnn geee oh.....and bingo was her name oh.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I don't know if that's really a word or not but I like it. Saturday our new gym with our new gym owners was closed so me and Pepe LaPiere needing some exercise decided to take a long walk through our town and do some serious envisioning.

The first thing we came across was our old house, 174 Redoubt Street. MP ramroded the deal back in 1981 and I never saw the house until we moved in, it was the start of our modest empire. Right next door to us was our friend Barb Jewel who has the most meticulously kept yard in Slowdotna, so there was some adjustment period as she got used to us, parked boats, old cars, loud music and my niece Melanie living in the back yard. But 30 years later we're best friends. The place is now a psychiatrists office so it really hasn't changed that much. That big tree is a genuine Montana Ponderosa Pine. I stood in line in the rain at the 4-H tree sale in 1982 to buy two of them, it was just a sapling and now its an impressive 40 footer and one of a kind on Reboubt Street.

While we were discussing the tree I just happened to look down the street and once again noticed what a view it is. I started envisioning that day in 1986 when I turned on the radio and heard that Mt. Redoubt had erupted. I simply put on my shoes and walked out to the street and looked to the west and yup...that baby was cooking off. So we rushed to the video store for movies, then the liquor store and Safeway for some groceries and then gathered the boys up from school and covered up the cars with tarps. Then we hunkered down for a couple days and a real Alaska adventure. I printed this picture looking east as its just so darn pretty, is there a place in the entire world with an every day view like that?
Just down from our old house we came across this sign Forrest and I got to envisoning a few things. As most of you know we have an interesting Senate race in the makings and they're both in this pic. From what I have figured we have a lawyer who is against all government benefit programs like unemployment yet has taken advantage of all and every one he could find. And, unlike us he pays his property taxes late or whenever he feels like it. Then we have a lawyer who's a sore loser that flunked the bar exam 5 times and who's daddy gave her the job. I don't know, somebody has got to win eh?

But the most envisioning thing about the signs was their location. The property belongs to a friend of mine who's campaign I worked on a few years back to get him elected to the State House. I guess maybe I just don't get it and I suppose he'd tell me that by having every ones sign out it shows he believes in the system but me I gotta be for something, somebody, a cause, the right thing in Jeff's world. It reminded me of a meeting years ago when I was president of the Guide Association. We had some money and were looking to help a candidate with a donation and endorsement hoping that some day it might help us. It was confusing because we didn't know who would win and my friend Randy Berg had the perfect solution...lets wait until they win , then endorse them. Now that's good politics.

So we walked my favorite part of town, the riverwalk and right before we got back to the car we came across this cool vintage motorhome, definitely a local. This isn't any 6 figure diesel pusher, its just one of my neighbors, the seasons over and its just us again...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Breaking Camp

When it comes to fishing on the Kenai River I'm like a bad house guest, the first to arrive and the last to leave. But I've never been to a party that didn't end so finally this weekend it was time to put the boat away, another season wrapped. Nate and I had talked about doing one last trip on Saturday but it was just way to in climate, raining and blowing at 25 or so. In fact its rained so much you can see on the USGS measuring device that the rivers jumped up several feet and is the color of a strong latte. So Saturday it was time to start putting things to bed. We did take time to help out at the Friends of the Library picnic. MP's on the Board and helping push the drive for a library expansion. Here's a pic of her cooking hot dogs with our mayor. Our friend Dick Hahn was instrumental in getting this effort going before he and Loretta moved to the 48 and I think he'd be happy to know I'd give the bond question a 3 to 1 chance in Tuesdays election. Thanks Hahny.

So today the three of us got busy. MP harvested all the last of her veggies and put the green house away and then went after the leaves with a vengeance. I spent 3 hours winterizing the boat. The Minnow IV is my bread and butter so theres no shortcuts when it comes to taking care of her. First I fill the tank all the way to the top and add my fuel conditioner. Then I run it in the river long enough to make sure that's its worked into the engine and all the fuel lines. Then its back up the hill to flush the cooling system with sweet water and change oil and lower unit fluid. I grease all the zerts and put all the gear away. Then I tow it back down to the upper launch and park it in a stern down attitude, the road will snow in soon and she'll be safe and secure until next May when we'll just do it all again. Duck soup. All the time I'm doing this Jet-Dog's job is watching the truck and following me of course. She loves that truck.

The next pic I had to print big, its gorgeous if you ask me. MP says she specializes in Miniature veggies, kind of like how some people are into HO scale trains I guess.
As you know, I have probably the only palm tree on the Kenai River as part of my fish cleaning station by the house. As we were working we spotted this hole and its apparent something is living in our Palm Tree. I couldn't be happier and kind of surprised that MP didn't know what it could be. She says maybe a nuthatcher bird, maybe a squirrel, maybe a woodpecker, who knows? If any of you know just what kind of critter would inhabit a dead Palm tree give me a holler, I need to know.

Getting done with a season is always a bitter-sweet deal. Its like graduating from high school in that you feel free but in a day or so you ask yourself "what now"? Like most of America we're not doing as good as we used to but we made it and will get along just fine for another year. I'm learning not to take anything for granted, we had a great year, laughed alot, worked alot, slept a little and loved each other and our lives. Thank all of you for being a part of Mile 14 in the year 2010......