Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Break - Up

MP used to say that theres two seasons around here, this winter and next winter. Well, that's just tuff talk because we have a wonderful, although short summer and this season here, break up. The break up season is characterized by huge puddles from melting snow with frozen ground so it has no place to go. Its characterised by huge and instantly appearing pot holes in the road from the same phenomena, frozen below and thawed on top. Its characterized by the worst air you've ever seen, dust and grit from the tons and tons of sand that are applied to the roads each winter. But us Alaskans are liking it real good, after all, fishing season is finally within sight.

So today even though I had alot to do, well, some stuff do, I decided to take a drive and photograph some of the unusual parts of break-up. The first two pics are the scene right here at my house, Rancho Deluxe at mile 14 of the Kenai River. Even though I suspect that puddle will get deeper I figured I'd better get the pic today, we all know how fast things happen in Alaska. Tonight we made sure MP's Suby was in the garage because we have a nice 6 inch layer of ice melting in the driveway that I was afraid that if we left the car out it might just be frozen in tomorrow morning....Oh, today it got up to 46 degrees but it still freezes at night.

That pic there is driving down the Spur into town. I'd hoped it would show the dust better but hey, it shows alot. Like the uniquely Alaskan grooved road from studded snow tires. I'm no engineer but I think they make the road kind of 'crowned' so the water from the middle will run to the side and be gone...Not here. I 'm kind of an idea guy and I got to wondering why we have a gutter and a drain system on both sides that doesn't work so well. Why not have one smack dab in the middle of the road and make the road bowl shaped? AND...then some of my neighbors wouldn't find it so easy to splash that poor guy who has to use the sidewalk. Its brilliant if you ask me.

Snow mountains like this are everywhere and their time is limited. I guess it says something about the whole cycle of life when you think that just a few months ago all this snow was fluffy, clean and exciting, well at least exciting for the snowmachiners who don't go to Mexico every winter. When it falls it kind of muffles the towns sound and leaves a wonderfully clean place, covering up all the gray and brown of fall. So, for me its clean in the fall, dirty in the spring, nice when its young, a pain when its old. That's snow.
This next pic says it all. Its a huge lake next to another snow mountain in front of our 'big box' shop till you drop store. Even though when they come to town and pave 10 acres of wilderness the company mitigates it with this wonderful landscaping we've all seen. Bring in a few Juniper trees from Delaware, maybe try and get some of that Cherry Blossom look going and excavate a 3 foot hole next to the road and walla...that's what ya got. Now....if the water was draining to the middle of the road instead, well maybe,.....guess that's dumb.

This last pic I thought every one should see because I figure if I told you what we're paying for gas you'd think I was exaggerating, like I'm prone to. So this blog here cost me about 5 bucks and its easy to think that's really not that much money. But hey, think of the things...its more than a K-16 Kwikfish costs, and you could buy 5 spin and glows, 3/4's of my favorite lure, a Roberts Ranger. You could buy a reel filler of Trilene Big get the idea. Do you suppose this is all part of what we know as spring fever???

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saturday night live

Well its kind of that 'not much to do season' here at Mile 14 and I've had a heck of time coming up with something to report. Its not like theres nothing going on here at Mile 14 its just that everything that is seems so normal...Then I got to thinking what Dave Anderson told me when I started the blog and I realized that even everyday life here is a bit different than how most folks live, especially those in the 48. So , today I'm going to walk you through yesterdays events here at the river, live, its Saturday night.

Normally this time of year our salmon supply has dwindled and we're looking forward to some fresh fish real soon. But as it was -20 before we left for Mexico and we couldn't smoke a batch for all our friends we waited and Saturday was the day to get it all taken care of it. One thing about this gift of salmon we have here in Alaska...don't kill it if you ain't going to eat it! So the pic above is one of two batches that MP canned and then the next pic is one of two smokers we tended all day, while we did other important stuff.
The next pic is kind of cool if you ask me. I set the camera up inside the sauna after we'd had a good sweat. As you can see theres still plenty of snow but with temps into the high 30's and low 40's we're finally into the 'break-up' season. Later this week I'll publish pics of the driveway and our road when it gets to be 4-wheel drive only. You can also see that I took time to chain up the 4-wheeler and as we sauna'ed about cocktail thirty I noticed that we broke just about every caution sign on the 4-wheeler...We drove it on a road, without helmets, with another rider and...consumed adult beverages. Oh well, we're big kids and theres not another soul in sight at this time of year at Mile 14.

So that brings me to this pic, the stuff I like from Mexico. Last night I had a few shots of Jimador (pronounced he-ma-door) with a one dollar lime I bought and some nice Mediterranean sea salt. The Jimador is a mid priced tequila in Mexico and I prefer it in the blanco variety. Its produced by the same people that make Herradara and I've seen the Reposada Jimador but not the blanco at my friend Ben Jackinsky's liquor store in Kenai. There a bottle is twenty bucks, in Mazatlan I bought this full liter at the Soriana store for 95 pesos, about 8 bucks... Then, next to the Jimador is another outstanding thing you can't get in the USA, no matter how good your store is. Its genuine Havana Club rum straight from Cuba. This bottle here is expensive even in Mexico but all the refined types I know say its simply the best you can get, anywhere. It's an aged rum and has a hearty taste that I guess I could compare to a really good single malt scotch like my buddy Chris enjoys. Its one of those things that just tastes like nothing else in the world.

So armed with a cold beer and a few shots of Jimador I go to work on my latest project, trying to learn Toby Keith's 'We were in Love' . Toby came to Kenai at the start of his career and only had the red album out and that song anchored the album. When he sang it for us it put goose bumps up my spine and it remained a favorite of for years, although out of reach as I figured I could never, ever, in a thousand years sing it. Well guess what, I finally have enough range and enough practice that I think I'm going to get it. It has a tricky part that builds to the refrain where he hits octave change after octave change. I'm getting it so all you folks in Mexico be ready, I'll have it spit shined by next December.

This pic is of our Saturday night mystery meat meal. Although we have all the fancy stores like WalMart in town now me and MP like to do our shopping at the local IGA. Its kind of a quirky little store and often has specials like this that are dirt cheap but in some ways a little scary. For 3 bucks we got 3 pounds of 'stuffed chicken breasts'. It doesn't say what they're stuffed with but me being naturally optimistic I figured it was Chicken Cor don Blu. Wrong. We baked them and they weren't bad but they certainly weren't chicken Cor don Blu....although there was something inside that resembled ham, kind of. One time we were shopping there and for one dollar they had smoked whole Spanish mackerel. They were in a vac sealed bag and were pretty darn big and impressive. Well, I opened it up when we got home and even the dog wasn't interested in eating something that foul smelling. So I took it out to the garbage and that night it was the first time we had bears in the trash here at mile kiddin.

I haven't done a book report in 40 years so I figure now is the perfect time. Before I left Mazatlan my friend Tony Mercuro told me that UnBroken is a must read. Tony is a decorated Viet Nam vet and one of the most deliberate people I know, he's a steady guy and when he speaks I listen. So last week I gobbled up this book in just two days, I read until I had double vision, you know the feeling?. Its the story of Louis Zamperini who represented us in Hitlers 1936 Olympics. He was thought to be the runner who would break the 4 minute mile barrier but was side tracked by the war. I read non-fiction alot as I want to know things that can make me better. Well, this book certainly does that, its inspiring, its heart rendering, its about history, its about getting through, getting 'it ' done. Its an action book, its a love story, its about sports and what they teach us....its just great and will make you feel good so give it a read...

Please come back to Mile 14, I'll do a better job of reporting the news from right here, the Kenai river.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Madness

That's a picture of the 67 fishing reels I own. This week in between all the other really important stuff I was doing I had the feeling that for the first time ever I'd go through my tackle and cull some of it out. Over the 15 years we've been at Mile 14 its all came in and none has left, I have stuff I didn't even know I had and way more stuff than I'd ever use. So, if you're around the first week of May we're having a 'guys stuff' garage sale. It'll have reels, rods, anchors, original packaged old lures, boots, rain gear....and as they say in Mexico, it will all be "almost free". I know I reported last year on our unique St. Patricks Day parade. We just got home from it and I think it deserves another mention. The first pic is MP waiting for the action to start. March in Alaska here is a confusing season and this pic tells the tale. You'll notice the snowmachine in the back of the one truck and the white truck going the other way was towing a boat, this weekend is the Homer Winter King Salmon tourney. Well, what to do...? We positioned ourselves at the very start of the parade route, it started at 4:30 and was over at kiddin....That's how you can tell its not an election year. But cool stuff was to follow.

The first 'float' of the parade was the American Legions train. I'm Catholic enough to recognise Latin when I see it and although there aren't enough words here I think it means ...we're good people that served our country and have alot of fun at this club....please come by for Karaoke on Friday night".
You know me....all that quest deal right? Well, the very next bunch of kids from the local Martial Arts Club had just the message I needed to see, that's my goal in life as well and it doesn't hurt to be reminded now and then. Not all our kids are cut out for the traditional get your @#^$ kicked football, the politics of basketball or even the endless fund raising to play hockey, some of our kids do just fine with different life skill sports.

Then as the parade was winding down along came this float. My old friends Ray and Gina Debardalaben who's guide service is associated with the local equipment rental company. Ray and Gina were married about 5 years ago and although older than me and MP were when we had kids, they now have 2. At their wedding they gave all the guests a CD of all their favorite Love songs, of which one was Kevin Fowlers ' Hard Man to Love'. Well, this song I fell instantly in love with and now I'm a Kevin Fowler expert. Thanks guys. Like most of us here in Alaska Ray is from somewhere else but Gina is full blown Alaskan and they're living the sport fishing dream. you'll notice his boat says ' Long Live the Kings'....and them kids they're holding tell the whole story why.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Follow me...Its a camera Safari

That first pic I figured is a good way to start, after all this blog entry is about me and the unusual things I notice, Its actually the sign by which my fishing friends find me here at mile 14 and seeings how we have about 20 guides that use the property I needed a way to be found...well there it is, an upside down - dead fish.

But before we go wandering I have some business to take care of. I told my friend and fishing team mate Jason that I'd cruise the area and report with pictures on the current conditions here at Mile 14. I think one pic will suffice. So Jay, make sure you notice off to the left is the rear view mirror of that trusty 91 Honda Civic that I'm giving you to drive when you land in Alaska, it should be thawed out by then.
This next pic is a kind of 'budget cabana' me and the Mpeasy came across one day. I'd been aimlessly wandering the beach and wondering if I could live off my social security here in Mexico one day when this helped me with the answer. Yes... its do able. It helped direct my thoughts away from the 1/2 million dollar home in the gated community and got me going towards nice clean project house in Centro Mazatlan...then I just walk to the beach and have my own cabana, simple I'd say.
The next pic I staged one day just feeling full of creativity. I set the camera up on the concrete side of the pool, set the timer, ran to the fountain and then went and retrieved my really wet and sprayed brand new camera. I've been going through about one camera every year and I guess this is how you do it. But hey, its a cool shot even if it might have cost me 160 bucks.
The mermaids are toooo cool. Its the official poster of this years Carnaval who's theme is ' The return of the Muses'. As I recall a muse is a gifted person that can kind of mentor you and help you navigate through life by sharing life's secrets and wisdom. So what could be better than to have your muse come in the gorgeous female mermaid variety? And of course where would any Carnaval promotion be without a logo of the real Carnaval inspiration around here...Pacifico beer. This apartment building is where my best buddy Ernie lives, it used to be called 'Angels Paradise' . But a few years back Angel got divorced and the green half is his ex-wifes and the red half is Angels. There was wall built right down the middle and even a chain link fence right through the swimming pool. Its weird enough that theres a physical divide between the two sides but there seems to be a social divide as well. All the upbeat old timers live at Angels and the come and goers stay on the green side...It was here that I was told to shut up and get a haircut right in the middle of Commander Cody's 'Mama hated Diesels'. Of course that came from the green side.....Do you remember that scene in the movie War of the Roses when Michael Douglas was explaining his plan to break up the house in segments to his lawyer Danny Devito? Devito asked him " Oliver does this really make sense to you?" and Oliver replied...."heck yes, I got 2700 square feet and she's only got 2200".
This next pic is something you don't see every day, goats playing basketball. Right down the street from us is a spanking new state of the art basketball court. Its got the shatter proof breakaway rims and glass. Its got the padded support stands. Its got a perfectly flat and painted
playing surface...and goats. I'll leave it at that.
Every now and then I enjoy a nice Tanquery Martini...either shaken or stirred, I don't care. So naturally this wonderful selection of stuffed olives jumped out at me while shopping. My buddy Crisco got me going on the Anchovy stuffed olives years ago and they remain my favorite. But when I saw the salmon stuffed I got to wondering... farmed or wild? Sockeye of Chinook? Alaskan or Canadian? And then I had the brain storm...why not smoked salmon stuffed or even bacon stuffed? I mean theres not to many things in this world that you can't make taste better by adding bacon. So I figure if we can't find them I'll make my own and report back to you on my research, just keep reading Mile 14.
The next two pics are a set I'd say. For some reason the marketing of beer is done entirely different in Mexico than the U. S. of A. Now I know Joe Montana was a big star but hey, that was 20 years ago. I have to figure the answer is simple, its just because he's got a really cool name. Then you'll see Tecate has a strategy to get buyers by adding a few cans. In the states we'd have a sale price, but in Mexico just add a few cans after all...its a better deal. You know 14 cans for those days when 12 ain't enough but 18 is too many.
The next twp pics are set as well. We like to go to the central market and eat either lunch or breakfast. Its a great place to sit and watch the town down below. This day I had the daily special that was a nice chicken soup that was real brothy with one huge piece of chicken and huge pieces of vegetable. It came with beans and tortillas of course and cost 25 pesos, just a little over two bucks. The other pic is the inside of restaurant row above the mercado. They don't see to many gringos here and thats half the fun, the gals are trying to get you in their place kind of like the barkers in Las Vegas...its great and one of our favorite things.

Art is everywhere, you just got to notice. These are the towels sitting on top of the massage table at the Aroma spa. Now I sometimes go to the Mayan Spa as the Aroma is downtown and a bit more expensive. But when they have towels as cool as this I have to say its worth the time and money to get there. Oh, a one hour massage by a trained therapist is 250 pesos, a little over twenty bucks...believe it or not I fished hard enough that a few days it was really needed.
We all know theres certain things you can get in Mexico that you can't in the states, like good vanilla and cheap prescription drugs... and pants like these. As part of this quest I'm on to be a really good person I figure I need to be more helpful so if any of you ladies would like a really cool pair of britches I'll pick them up for you in 10 short months. I know where they sell them, just let me know.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Gotta Go

I've never been to a party that didn't end and I think we're doing it just right. Our friend Connie shared some wisdom with us when she said " the best time to leave a party is while you're still having fun". So tommorrow on our 34th wedding Anniversary we jump the jet back to Mile 14. Being on final approach around here is a bit like being on death row, you know you gotta go, everybody else knows you gotta go and you spend hours decideing what to have for your last meal. Because Carnaval is starting we'll avoid downtown tonight and just go to the gold zone and pick out a restraunt that has cloth napkins and a wine list. Then manana we'll celebrate our love over one of our favorite things...Ivars clam chowder at the food pavilion in Sea-Tac. Thens its a late night into Anchorage, a quick nap at the Puffin Inn, a short flight to Kenai and its HELLOOOOO Jet-dog.
I'll blog more about Mazatlan and things here when I get home but this was the scene 2 nights ago on Ave Delmar at Cerritoes. So much has happened that the governor had a pep rally with the army and police to fire them up to have a violence free Carnaval. Easily 50 trucks wih Machine gun ready troops and sirens wailing paraded through town to let the bad guys know they mean business. I hope it works and Carnaval comes off without a hitch, my second favorite place in the world doesn't need anymore bad press. Pure La Vida is what we say good. This sunset is just a few hours old. As I was watching it and starting to blues over a bit about leaving I got to thinking. Thats the same sunset we have in Alaska, its the same ocean as we have in Alaska and MP and I are the same people as we are in Alaska...So whats really changing? This year I'll resolve to incorporate what I've learned and what I do in Mexico into my Alaska life, that way it comes with me. New friends, a slower life, share the music, more fruit in my diet, let things go.....see you all soon Alaska.