Sunday, March 24, 2013

Varsity Level

In my life I use that term a lot, for me it means being as good as you can be, a 100 percent guy. After I had guided a few years I got to realizing that taking people fishing wasn't really 'important' work like being a doctor or a lawyer or just somebody that contributes to the overall good. And I also new that I was pretty much a steward of peoples recreation time and in all cases part of their hard earned vacations. So....I new that in order to have any pride in myself and my life I absolutely had to go at it 100%, do the very best every time I go fishing and live by a simple laziness. So thirty some years later that mind set has served me well not just with my job here in Alaska but it's also helped me to be included with the elite of the fishing world in Mazatlan. I told my buddy Ernie one time after a day of 6 hours straight hurling a 2 ounce lure just as far as you can after being up at 5 am, " ya know Ern, there's lots of people who fish but not a lot who  fish like you and me".
That pic is a virtual who's who of  some of  the best surf fishermen in Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico. A couple months ago our friend Stan on the left invited everybody out for breakfast.  He's had back surgery and just couldn't fish this year so it was his way to get together. To be included with these guys to me is like a team photo of the New York Yankees. Stan, Ramon, Tino, Bernardo, Slah, Ernie and myself. Of course I'd been fishing that morning so I had my gear with me. At one of the nicest restaurants in Mazatlan we had lures laying on the table, showing knots and talking story, fish story. Everyone knows  these guys and by the time we were done the owner had dropped by, all the staff and a few people from off the street all swung in to say hi. Pretty cool.
I took these pics of Slah at Marmol one day to show you the athleticism and experience it takes to get right after fishing the surf fishing 100 %. He's a machine. He knows when to be where and does all the little things I've noticed through the years. Watch the rocks before you crawl out on them, don't move your feet when the waves hit, time your casts and let the rod do the work. When he casts it makes this fantastic 'wheeeshing' sound and goes an easy 100 yards  and 150 when he really needs it.

Although we have this team approach to our surf fishing it really is a loners way, I like that. Unlike being in a boat there's really not much anybody can do to help you and except for our designated breaks you spend the day alone, in your own thoughts. Not only are you separated from your team mates but most of the time we're separated from town, we're all alone, miles from anywhere. This pic kind of illustrates.
 Slah has  a nice fish on in the pic above, the point on the right is still 30 miles from Mazatlan.The next pic is me working hard for that extra distance that can make all the difference. There's days when we take extra clothes for the days end, some of the guys like my friend Jason are as at home in the water as the fish .
This next pic is one of my favorites. The guys tease me for several reason, one of which is that I take lots and lots of photos...and every so often you hit a homer.
And here's a picture of us wrapping things up.This day we were at Marmol and caught some nice toro and I caught one fairly small snapper that Bernardo took home to his wife.  Most of the guys look at this blog so I just have to say one thing....thanks guys, its one of the highlights of my fishing career and my life in general, to share and have you all share with me. I made the team and it feels good to playing varsity. Gracias.
AND....well, here at Mile 14 spring is slowly but surely showing its face. This morning we have our first open water on the river, a little lead opened up right in front of the launch. Of course I was happy to see it but I'll bet the little critters that left all those footprints around it were happier...pretty cool is all I can say. I wonder what and where they were drinking before it opened up????

Monday, March 18, 2013

Our Neighbors

So what could draw a crowd like this is in our little town to the sidewalks on a balmy mid- March afternoon?    
Just about anything I guess, our town is ready for spring and the St. Paddy's day parade from Baileys Furniture Store to the Y Chevron proves it. The parade started at 1:00 sharp and was done at 1:18. No kidding.
One of our towns favorite people, Herb Stettler lead off the parade with the VFW float. Even the truck was a veteran and I couldn't believe it, but maybe that's just me. Instead of borrowing a spanking new F-150 ol Herb found a 1976 Power Wagon, that would be a 37 year old truck. I know that for sure because I waited 2 years to buy my 78 Power Wagon. Nope, you don't see that too often in a parade.
After the usual Judo Club and Mayor candidates went by I noticed two trucks from the Alaska Moose Federation. This group was formed to promote more Moose for all the hunters in our part of Alaska. It seems that through the years the moose browse has declined and with predation up from Bears and Wolves and of course pick-up trucks we just don't have the Moose we used to have. One thing I know about Alaska is clear here.... if throwing money at it would solve a problem we wouldn't have ANY problems at all.
I'm not really sure what we're doing to grow more moose and how a pick-up truck can do that but it must be working because we've got them everywhere. These 4 Moose had just spent the morning on the corner of  MaryDale when the parade passed them by. Just like magic.
So when we got home at 1:23 after the parade we decided to ski downriver and check out our neighborhood. It was really great skiing conditions, apparently while we were gone it snowed and thawed some making the snow nice and hard and we skied effortlessly on top of it. And wouldn't you know, what do we run into on the way home, yup another one of those darn moose.
He was smack dab in the middle of the river crossing from our side to the k-beach side. Us and Jet-dog both have enough experience in this situation to know what to do...nothing. Just stop and wait for him to get where he's going. In the past we've made the mistake of allowing their curiosity to get up and they will come right to you thinking you're another moose, or two. One year we were walking up the frozen river under the stars and from way upriver a shadow turned into a big ol moose that  trotted up dangerously  close to us.

Heres a pic of Fall-in-Hole. Its pretty darn amazing to think that in only 7 or 8 weeks I'll have a boat out there, somewhere.
And here's a pic of us in our natural element....On the Kenai River, in Alaska, with each other...home.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Back @ Mile 14

I'm finally back into the flow of things enough to report on our northern migration, typical is all I can say. Luckily it was pretty warm when my nephew dropped us off at the house and we waited for my friend Arkey the locksmith. Seems like neither of us had the right key. One of those deals you run into where you put something somewhere so it won't get lost and guess what ? It dissappears. Of course Jet-Dog was pretty darn excited at seeing us through the windows and Arkey had to say that she really isn't that darn smart or she would've opened the door. She was a little out of gas by the time we got in. But no worries, it was your usual re-entry. A frozen truck battery and the computer gremlins got to MP so she's sporting a brand new Dell...but the unusual thing is...somebody stole our snow shovels. Man, of all the things in this world I'd risk my life for by going to Jeff Kings house and stealing something in broad sure wouldn't be 3 snow shovels. And THEN, theres the work that goes along with them, I just don't get it. But, I don't get a lot of things.

Here's a pic of MP in her last water aerobics class. Everybody was so happy that they were all waving good bye to me. Wow, what a great pic.
After all my years in Mazatlan I noticed something in the airport....right on the concourse, right in the middle of the hall is a hopscotch court. What a great idea to help burn off tension for the guy that doesn't travel so well. I took this pic of MP hopping, she's really good but I had a trouble getting her pic in mid air.. I guess really good hopscotchers don't need to hop to high, maybe its a timed event.
The ol US of A could learn something here. This is the only way to board a plane. No nasty and confining jet way AND we use both the front and rear doors making the process twice as fast. Imagine that, common sense.
I'm convinced that if you keep positive and upbeat you'll notice something new everyday. Well when we headed for customs in L.A. I set a personal  best record in 'hallway walking'. That's by far the longest hallway I've ever seen, and I've been to Las Vegas. I asked the guy working there just how long he thought it was and he replied " man, its a long way, I clean it 4 times a shift"....mmmm....I got nothing to complain about, nothin.
And flying to Kenai the next day I finally got to see the wind farm on Fire Island that's been talked about for years. The native association put it together and at first the electric company said they wouldn't buy the juice. I guess they were thinking that after they dam up the Susitna River they wouldn't need it or any other environment friendly power. But on this day they were just humming away and it made me feel a little good about the future.
And of course when we got home it didn't take the mad gardener long to get to work. Put the snowshoes on to shovel ( with a flat #9 from the garage) a path to the greenhouses to get at the pots, and dirt, and seed trays and grow lights  and vermiculite and fertilizer and bokashi and....well, here we go again....

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mission Acomplished

That's me looking out over the ocean, the same ocean as Alaska and contemplating change. Change is something I do varsity level. So the next time you come to Mile 14, we'll actually be there although I do have another Mexico themed blog bouncing around in my melon.

One of the unfair things about life is that no matter how interesting, exciting or fresh things are...they can become routine. I think maybe that's why time fly's by so fast, we get to used to things. So me and Mpeasy are ready to head home and knock out another season, take it as it comes and make the best. I'm learning not to be in a hurry for anything. It's not just the feeling I get or the scheduled jet-jump that tells me we gotta go, it's tangible. We've gotten it done. We've spent our allowance right down to the last peso. I've broken my new Okuma big surf rod. I've sold my  Stradic reel so Alberto can upgrade. I started out with 15 krocodile lures and I'm down to 2. I gave my watch away. I gave my Alaska Wild Gear clothing away. Our smoked salmon is all gone. I've taken 563 pictures. I gave away 10 Ranger lures. Our fridge looks like it belongs to Ernie, a batchelors fridge.I gave away my fillet knives. I dropped the black guitar at the tavern and wing-dinged the binding pretty darn good. I wore out my flip flops. I bought a years worth of all my pills. The battery on my Mexican cell phone won't recharge. I've gained 7 get the idea, its time to go.
One last sunseta and we make the trip norte. Customs in L.A., hopefully time for Ivars Chowder in Seattle, a night at the Puffin in Anchorage with killer waffles for breakfast. Then the Grant flight home...Mile 14. I tell people all the time, don't feel bad about leaving...if you don't leave you never get that 'newness' of coming back. That freshness when you start anything. And starting springtime in Alaska ain't a bad deal. See you there.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

34 plus 1

35 years ago tonight me and Mary Patricia Brown were married  at my parents house, 1499 Beaverhead Rd., Helena Montana. My friend Jim Hunt's dad Bill married us. He was a workman's compensation judge at the time and went on to serve a long tenure on the Montana Supreme Court. I just got news the other day that Bill just turned 90 and is in fading health. So we keep on Bill...thanks, and we love you. I remember clearly when he agreed to marry us what he said. " I guess I need to say something wise to you so this it...ya gotta be friends, that's the biggest part of the deal". Here we are on that night, my brother in the background tending bar and my friend Tom Hanson and his wife chatting on....
I titled this 34 plus 1 because its what I tell people, the truth. 34 years of happiness and about a year of sheer hell. Lucky for us the that part of it came in two and three day increments spread out over time. We've always been good at making up. One of my old long lost friends a fellow named Leigh Madsen was in Kenai  last spring for work. He called and we got together, it was a little uncomfortable but fun after 25 or 30 years apart. But ol Leigh's future in politics isn't so bright because he confided to us that he was surprised that we were still together. MP's teeth just about fell out and for just a sec I thought she was gonna give him the bums rush. But Leigh was kinda right, I wasn't a very good guy at first and MP has always deserved better. So now as we move into our 60's I'm not only trying to be a good husband , I want to be an exemplary husband, its all part of this quest of mine. I'm the guy that used to think his friends were the most important relationships, now I'm the guy who really doesn't even need that, as long as I've got MP...and pity the poor the person that would hurt or embarrass her, not when I'm  around, won't happen. Here's a pic of us out fishing  a month ago. How could you not love somebody with a smile like that.
It's a pretty cool deal, we're kinda self contained. Business partners, mutual art critics, work out and adventure mates. We're grief counselors and competitors. We're  motivators and a calming force. We're each others conscious and spirit. We're entertainers and surprises. We care. We're lovers.
When we had our 25th anniversary I put this message in the paper..." thank you MP for 25 years of patience while I  learned"...I still mean that. I wish I'd been the one that thought of a peace sign inside a heart but I was thinking of you MP when I snapped this picture. Pretty cool.