Saturday, April 30, 2011


' The river will deliver' is one of my sayings so a riverey is kind of like a delivery but just between me and the river. This first pic is my first riverey of the season, last week when I woke up and didn't have to go to guide school I celebrated with one of my favorite things, J+J salvage at mile 14.
Although not a record this was a pretty good haul. For some reason the Vibrax spinners are always fresh and shiny but the Pixie lures are always rusty, I release them.  You notice a fairly high end pair of lineman's pliers, its not hard to imagine that anybody that would get into his tool box before heading to the river might drop things overboard.  The other thing that left me wondering is how somebody could lose their flag? However it happened we're going to clean it up and respectfully fly it right here at the river, another story to tell.

You know me, always on the look out for the unusual and this trip was no different. The first pic is a tire frozen in an upright configuration, now how'd mother nature do that? I suspect this tire might have escaped from mile 14 where we routinely use them to buffer the boats so in the spirit of spring cleaning I returned it to its rightful owner. The next pic is....well.....a sign. I've been on kind of a sign jag lately so this baby jumped right out at me. You all know how I feel about signs but don't do it, don't think that....I didn't do it. Honest. This State Park sign is so shot up you can't even read it so let me tell you what it used to say.....' Don't Have Fun Here"..."By Order of the Commissioner". 
Somewhere I heard that the first casualty in every battle is the battle plan.  That's what happened with my greenhouse project. Over breakfast one day I told MPeasy that I'd get it done it two days and two hundred dollars. Well, two weeks and a 'G' note later there she stands all ready for tomato residence. Kind of a cute little bugger isn't it?  Like the ageing athlete when it comes to carpentry I guess I'm beginning to lose a step or two. After making my lists and checking them twice I only made a total of 9 trips to the lumber store...if you think that's alot of windshield time to complete a project you ought to see me do plumbing. I burn a tank of gas and then have enough wrong/leftover parts to plumb a water park.
This week we're getting boats out. I'll be on the river tomorrow looking and I wouldn't be surprised if we have a tug on the line in the next week or two. The river is considerably under the 40 year average for flow so it will be a challenge running the powerboats....just the way I like it.  Come back and check it out and thanks for following life here at Mile 14.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Back to School

Why?...." because I told you so". Man I hated that when I was a kid. Its because it has everything to do with authority and nothing to do with reason. Well this week I got just a taste of that, here's the story.
A few years back when I was on the River Board our guide industry was facing alot of scrutiny because of its impact on the social fabric of the Kenai River. Some were fearful that the guides could lose some fishing days due to regulation so they devised a plan to make the guide industry more professional, a kinder , nicer guide industry....How?...Well lets send them all to school for a week. The plan called for all new guides to have to go to school immediately before they could guide and then a roll in was done with the guys who have been at it the longest being given 5 years or so to take the class.  That's me, the last guy to take the class, well me and 24 more like me. 
I was actually having anxiety over going to this as I just thought it was nonsense.  After all, I've guided 200 to 300 anglers a year for the last two or three decades, whats to learn?  But I finally came to the conclusion that all industries usually have a continuing education program and there might be some value here. And there was, just not enough for 4 nine hour days worth with a 5 hour day for testing.  The safety concerns you can't hear to  often and the science of the river was fascinating, I learned alot. It could all have been done in two days. But you know me, theres always a bright side so here's a snapshot of the class and a list of what I learned....
My class room was number 107 in the Walter Ward building. For years I thought the benefactor was my old friend Walter Ward who owned Wilderness Way Store and used to be a Park Ranger. In fact I often thought my friend Walt was one of these silent unassuming philanthropists never wanting recognition. He was doing it just to do the right thing....Well, at recess of the first day I found out I was flat wrong, this Stately looking gentleman is the 'real' Walter Ward. I don't know his story but he certainly looks like a guy who would and could give jillions to the local community college. Thanks Walt. 

I'm not a real fan of signs. I guess its because signs are generally telling you not do things and I'm all about doing lots of things. But the 3 signs in this sequence caught my eye. It kind of underscores what we all know about Alaska, its not like the 48.  But it seems to me that the sign about bears should trump the sign about no guns.
Our college (KPC) has a huge oilfield technology curriculum.  They have classes for instrument technology and fire and safety and welding. So this huge, gorgeous , rusty moose is the work of the welding technology students. I don't think theres to many campuses with such a unique artwork and us here on the Kenai know one thing about fish, you can't have to many of them. When you really look at this thing like I did the weirdness goes away and you realize that not only was there an obvious welding lesson in it but the structural design needed and the overall layout makes this a pretty cool project.
When I got to class on Monday morning I naturally picked out the farthest seat away from the podium, I like to talk in fact I like to talk anytime. Well who comes and sits next to me but Tim Hiner, guide #1 on the Kenai River. Of course we've known each other in passing for years, we reallyy didn't know each other well but after having shared our schooling here I can announce that we're friends now. It really was one of the cool unintended results of this deal. Tim is a good christian fellow and about as steady a guy as I know. He laughs easily and I'm impressed with the missionary work he does in Russia. Today when we split up I thanked him for helping me through the course. So the next pic is me and Tim taking notes during the 'what every guide needs to know' section of the class. Don't think the pick below it is a mistake and doesn't fit...its actually the mental imaging exercise I was doing while the guide spoke. Yep, I can still do two things at once just like high school.

So today was graduation day. The next pic is me getting my suitable for framing certificate. On the left is Dave Goggia who is the President of the Guide Association and also Gary Turner, the President of the college.  It was pretty cool that a guy that busy would fine time to congratulate all the students personally.  When all was said and done I actually had a pretty good time and got to see alot of old friends. The food was healthy and the coffee was hot. Here's a few of the interesting things I learned. I hope to retain as much as I can and in some ways you guys...this deal made me a better guide. It sure couldn't have hurt anything.

1. The 'hyporeuic' is the most important zone in the stream. Its the aerated depths (sometimes as deep as 2 feet) that the hatched out alevins are raised over the winter relying on their yolk sack and then the aquatic creatures that inhabit the hyporeic zone.
2. Silver fry spend 3 years in the fresh and then just one year in the ocean.
3. There are 38 species of fish in the Kenai River. I knew there was alot, but not 38...
4.86 species of midges and chironmidaes, the all important aquatic creatures that the small fish feed on.
5. Our first people to the river were the Kachemak Riverine at 1,000 B.C.
6.I can shoot my shot gun legally 1/4 mile from a house or structure.

Well you get the idea. Everybody's doing alot of work to make the best of the this world famous Kenai River. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Big News

Just as I predicted, yesterday when we got home from the gym at 9:00 we could here birds....the river is breaking up, same day, same way as last year. I tell people all the time that the river is a living thing, just like the birds and the trees and yesterday was a big day for the creek. Lucky for us change is usually slow in life, it makes it all bearable but sometimes in nature things happen fast. So as I worked on the greenhouse I kept an eye out for just how the break-up was progressing. I took all four shots from the overlook below our house. The first was at 9:00 am yesterday, the second at 1:00 pm, the third at 6:00 pm and the last one 24 hours later at 9:00 am this morning. The view is the Big Eddy of course....pretty cool huh?

So its time of adjustment here at Mile 14, when we walk the Jet-dog we hear things, eagles and mallards and not just a few, there are hundreds and hundreds of ducks. We have fresh Bear skat in the parking lot so now its time to be careful.  We see the grass at the launch finally and can access what the voles have done over the winter and a walk through the property shows us how many beetle killed trees blew over while we were in Mexico....its a time of change and I LIKE IT !

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Carpenter #003

As you can see I'm in the process of building a new greenhouse for MP's tomatoes. She starting gnawing on this project about Mexico time and theres just no dodging it anymore. She got on the radio and asked for used windows and the phone rang off the hook, so now we're saving money by framing in for used windows. Its kind of like a trip to costco, man it costs alot to save money. In this case we need headers and trimmers and all that technical stuff that you don't need with just your usual ol garden variety greenhouse.

So I started on the project about noon on Tuesday and it took me exactly 2 nails to smash my pinky with the hammer. The realization settled in on me, my power framing days are over. The problem wasn't that I've lost my moves or that I'm not strong enough to swing the darn thing...its my depth perception. I've got these transitional tri-focal glasses and when I bent over to nail it made my hand look like they were a mile away.

I didn't start out to be a carpenter , like alot of life it just happened to me. When I got back to Alaska the pipeline boom was on and the people that I new were carpenters, not oilfield. So I built houses and let me tell you, I made some money for alot of people. Not being able to see anybody do anything better than me I worked my tail off. Although not the best carpenter I was fast and fearless, the guy that rolled the trusses and walked the walls....but my heart was never really in it and thats how I got into guiding.

It was 1980 and I was building the sewer plant in Kenai, making a ton of doe that bought my first nice boat.  But I had use of Woodys old S.S. minnow with a brand spanking new 25 horse Evinrude I had bought. We had a Superintendent named John Manson. John was all business and a hard man that everyone was scared of. But John heard I was catching these Kenai Kings and just had to have some, he loved to fish. Well, one thing lead to another and all that summer on Friday he'd pay me carpenters wage to go fishing. This was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me but I have to say the carpenter foreman got to hating my guts for it. But like all construction jobs this one came to an end and before John Manson left he called me in and said "ya know you're a hell of alot better at that fishing deal than you are at carpentering" In fact he said " you'd of hit the road 4 months ago if you hadn't had that boat" the next year, 30 years ago, I had a guide sticker on my brand new Klamath boat that the sewer plant had purchased for me, and my first customer was John Manson.

I might have a sore finger and it kind of worries me for my guitar playing but its kind of cool to have life skills that create know me, I don't hire anything, do it all myself and I do it hard.

The Kenai river at Mile 14 is yet to ice out. Last year if you remember it went out on the 15th. So thats my bet, tomorrow its going to go to make it an annual event. It actually looks like a pretty safe bet, the ice is all spongy and theres open water here  and there. I'll let you know when she goes....So come back next week, I'll blog about the State mandated guide school I must attend, it should be chuckly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The King's Speech

Lately I've been hearing the use of this word 'code' for whats really being said. Well here at Mile 14 we don't speak code but we do have our own unique vocabulary to fit our own unique lives. We lovingly refer to our circle of friends as F-troop and through the years that group has grown to include most of my fishing  team. So like everything else we collaborate on the jargon we use, here's some examples.

mismal..... miss-mull...Its like when things are dismal but way worse.

shamoozle......sha-maz-ill....Like yesterday when I used the wrong card in the ATM, I've got two cards that look alike. So,  seeing as I was at the bank I had the pin number changed, figureing that was the problem.. So when I changed it on the wrong card and then used the right card naturally the pin was wrong again.  That's a mini-shamoozle. It would be used like this, "oh no, another shamoozle".

cheeeekin....cheeeekin.....when you eat as much of it as I do on my high protein diet you can't just call it chicken. It would be used like this " how would you like your skinless, boneless, flavorless baked cheeeeekin?" or " your cheeeekin is ready".

rain locker.....the shower.

Hamite.....ham-eye-t.....someone who loves ham or thinks ham can fix things. You know a hamite when on every single  one of the 4 yearly ham holidays or learning of a loss in the family you hear " I'll put a ham in the oven"...that's a hamite.

steamer......jet-dogs droppings.

hand holder....a trip with your wife to any of these places, museum, art gallery, crafts fair, greenhouse , fabric store or  thrift store. One hand holder equals three fishing trips with team X.

buckle polisher.....slow dance or a slow song. when I go to register at State Parks for my guide permit I take along 700 bucks and all my bonafeedes.

Outcome....the opposite of income... "man, this time of year its all outcome and no income".

toad strangler......hard rain

whacked em......good fishing

steady..... used to describe poor fishing...."Bob, wouldn't you say the fishing was awful steady today?" Team X'ers or F troopers never use negative terms like stinks, slow, terrible, dead , boring or sucks.... Team X'ers believe that the fishing is always good, its just the catching that is sometimes problematic." man, that shamoozle cost me some serious lettuce".

gawker....a guy with a brand new F-350 diesel dually that comes to mile 14 " just to look around" . A good gawker's truck is so long that when he turns around he drives far enough into your lawn that he flattens the sprinkler.

Well, you get the idea. Maybe I'll add to this dictionary as we go along with spring time in Alaska. Speaking of which here's a pic of me on the way to the gym this morning, just your usual spring blizzard with 5 inches of where near being a shamoozle, just ordinary life at mile 14.