Friday, October 31, 2014

Dog gone

Yesterday we took Jet to the Veterinarian for the last time.  It was heart wrenching. MP made the arrangements, I couldn't. But I remember years ago I had foolishly put her at risk with a retrieve. I was showing off at the boat launch and I heaved the training dummy way to far, almost mid river. Well Jet went for it of course but by the time she saw it it was directly down current from her and although she was closing the distance she disappeared out of sight around the island 1/4 mile below our house....I was horrified and yelling for her to stop but she was gone. In true Lab style it took about 15 minutes but she came back all smiles with the dummy in her mouth. I related this story to a friend of mine who knows Labs well and he told me " Jeff, this dog will do ANYTHING for you so she relies on you to make good decisions for her"....Well, that's what we did yesterday, we made a decision. It was important to MP that Jetty have her dignity and she was having so many problems that I guess you needn't here.   All of you that know Labs have seen that tilted head stare where they seem to understand entirely what you're feeling in life. As I lifted her from the truck yesterday and she gave me that look it seemed to say....' it's Ok'...

MP has told me that Jet made me a better person and I guess she's right. Being a guy who's pretty much self contained, MP would say self absorbed, Jet gave me something else to focus on, a place to channel some of my emotions. I always said I'd never be a dog owner that treated their dog better than they do people and even though I didn't become that type of guy I now understand how you could get that way. It's simple.  It's love.
It's really everybody's loss, she was the greeter here at Mile 14 for the thousands of people who passed our gate in her many of you know here, Mary Johnson loved her like  Max and Sam did. I took the pic above on Wednesday, you can see she's still a beauty queen. She had the best life of all her kennel mates and I believe out lived them as well. She was free to roam and new her boundaries. She was my salvage partner, she'd walk us, she was the swimming est Lab ever seen. She'd wait for me everyday sitting on the picnic table and over flow with excitement when any black boat approached. She swam out to greet me mid river more than once and I would pull her aboard. She new the dump run got her a biscuit. She didn't like bugs. She was never in a fight, never.

So me and MP aren't feeling so good right now. I know this empty quiet around here will fatigue with time, we'll be better. But when you think about it the degree of your misery at the loss of a love is a measure of that love. It's the price of love and it's worth the expense.

If you'd like of my first blogs ever was about Jet and it's funny. Nov. 23, 2009. I think it stands well as an obituary for the most wonderful animal I've ever known.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Me and Wally

We have a house guest. My old friend Wally Brown is here while he recovers from emergency back surgery. Wally lives by himself out in the sticks of Alaska and lives this unique lifestyle where he feeds a wood stove for heat place to recoup from extensive surgery alone. He was by this spring to help me execute that huge Birch tree I blogged about and he was awaiting surgery with the V.A. in Anchorage. He couldn't stand up straight and his pain was obvious. Well, he recovered a little from that and then deteriated  through out the summer until the pain became so bad he called the ambulance about 10 days ago. As luck would have it my friend Dr. Craig Humphries, the back guru has recently opened a practice here and he removed a bone spur the size of "Connecticut " that the other doctor had missed....somehow.  But the story is me and Wally....
In the early 1980's I was working for Mark Passe who had Specialty Builders. We were doing a 32-plex housing unit in Kenai and I was a running a framing crew on the job when he hired Wally to be project manager. Now I had worked for the Passe family for years and we kind of had a system that helped us to be the most aggressive framing outfit on the Peninsula...until Wally arrived. First thing he did was call a crew meeting in a unit we had just rolled up a couple exterior walls. It went pretty much like this....He points at my sneakers and says that tomorrow everybody will have steel toed boots. Then he points at my Cat Diesel Power bill cap and says tomorrow everyone will have hard hats. Then he grabs the boom box and says we ain't ever hearing Rock and Roll bounce through the project again AND while you're at putting that music away pick up all those damn Dr. Pepper cans (we would drink a case a day) and NEVER throw them around again...And finally the coup de gras, the crème de la crème....He pointed at the Rum soaked Crook cigar that I was smoking at the time and said I NEVER want to see that again where I'd routinely drive a couple sinkers on the wall an inch apart for a cigar holder. YIKES, this guys about as much fun as a fart in a scuba tank.

So being Jeff King, one never to be bullied and who tries to make everything fun including work and always the purveyor of righteousness, I quit. I grabbed my saw, grabbed my cigar out of the cigar holder and with a few choice words hit the road... after all I'm the best wall walking, truss rolling, fearless frame carpenter in Slowdotna and finding another job is duck soup......Well that evening Mark came by with a 6-pack of beer and tells me I can't quit. He tells me the problem is that after I quit his dad and brother quit also and he just can't have his dad quitting. Then he asks me to just consider Wally a project, he tells me that the guy is almost genius level framer so he figures if me and Wally can get along he has the best of each world, the guy that thinks the most and the guy that works the most....Well it took many a framing a job but we slowly built some mutual respect and now here we are after all those years the last few people from that era still in the area and still friends.

Wally is a bit eccentric in a kind of McGiver way. At one time he applied for patents on a unique car engine motor if you remember the old Mazda rotary 'Wankle' engine. He was radio repairman is Viet Nam. He built his own unique cement house. He likes cats. He's a bachelor for sure. In fact I noticed just a minute ago that he invented his own tooth brush holder with our Kleenex, how about that?
So Wally needs some help and we need to be steady, like friends. I have to tell you it kind of brings out MP's mothering instincts. So we're helping him walk and eat right....unfortunately his timeframe here coincided with my training diet so he's a little chagrined at lean protein and veggies every day ( the other day he asked if we ever have any chips around). But he's liking the high def TV and sports stations and we even put out the old Fred Flintstone night light to guide his way....So get better W.B., I might have quit a few jobs in my life but I ain't quit on you.............

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ya gotta want to do it

If your goal is to be the fittest 62 year old fishing guide on the Kenai River...I gotta tell you, it's not easy. Every fall season  for the last ten years I train for life pretty hard, but this year I've ramped it up by about 50 %. I figure it's the only way that I'm going to reach a goal that I keep setting and not accomplishing. I want to be under 190 pounds and ideally I'd like to hit 185. I started back in the gym  in early September at 203, three pounds over my 'Alamo' when I said that I'd never weigh over 200 pounds again in my life ( at one time I was 240 ) . The last 5 days I've weighed in at 196 pounds so I've lost 7 pounds in about 6 weeks, but man it ain't's a pic of the staples of my diet.
Here's a typical day:  Breakfast is four or five egg whites, sometimes a large bowl of oatmeal. Lunch is salmon salad made with one teaspoon of mayo over lots of lettuce, sometimes Tuna. My other lunch item is a leftover piece of protein and an entire can of vegetables. For supper we have Chicken with no skin (lately I've been boiling whole chickens and stripping the meat) and either a fresh veggie or a large salad. I splurge and have red meat (this weekend a New York) every other week or so but keep the portion to 8 ounces. NO SNACKS. But I will have a mid day Carb Master which is a yogurt type deal of 60 calories.

Exercise: In theory the weight loss is simple, you just need to burn more calories than you consume.  In the past I've done 1/2 hour on the elliptical trainer and judge my workout by the sweat. I'd do a hard sweat one day and then an easier fat burn the next. Well this year I've doubled it. I do one hour of Cardio every morning, 45 hard minutes on the Elliptical set at 10 and then walk up hill fast for 15 minutes, usually my heart rate stays between 120 and 130....this is what I look at ever morning.
The cardio gets a bit boring as you guys all know and I think that's the main reason for failure in the gym. So for me I use the time to explore my other passion on earth, music. I create new stations on my Pandora account and am always finding new musicians and music forms I didn't know existed. Working out in the gym has been one of he biggest reasons for my own musical awakening, listening to music has helped inspire me and I've learned the need to modulate my voice as I thank you Pandora.

Every other day I return to the gym in the afternoon to lift and walk on the treadmill another hour. I still work two muscle groups at a session but I'm doing way less weight and my body is thanking me for it. Friday I did chest and triceps, instead of dumbbell presses with 70 pounders I'm doing the same reps with 40 pounds.

So, knock on's so far so good. My body  feels great and seems to be standing up to all the exercise. I treated my feet to some nice new Asics and I'm convinced that's very helpful for injury prevention. So wish me luck as I move ahead on the program. My friend Greg Davis was by and I told him that when I hit my goal I was going to publish another pic of me in a Speedo.... he said don't do it...please....don't do it. Stand by because I think you'll all get a chuckle out of it.
As I was working the cardio this morning I was mentally reviewing this entry I put together yesterday and I was thinking of all the people who have helped me have success in the gym. Charlie and Bernie and Rex and Josh and Angie, folk that not only inspired me but answered all my questions. So I thought at the risk of sounding like a pompous ass I'd put together a list of things I've learned in the pursuit of fitness in hope that it helps one of you somehow. I guess I have done pretty good at it for the last 12 years....Mohamed Ali famously said " It ain't bragging if you can do it ".
1. Dips are probably the worst muscle exercise on your shoulders. If you want rotator cuff problems just go hard at the dips (although for young guys it's a great chest / tricep exercise.  Shoulder problems are THE most common injury in the gym.
2. For benefit cardio is best in the morning on an empty stomach.
3. you need the trifecta for success and not just one component ...exercise/resistance training/diet
4. Buy whatever it takes to shoes, clothes, weight belt, I pod music....whatever it takes to       help you want to do it.
5.  success is a slow simmering process but look at each day as a're there and you're doing it.  Once it's routine and you miss it if you don't work out, you're there.
6. Weigh yourself everyday.
7.  Hydrate...every morning as you work out drink 38 ounces of H2o.
8.  There's a fine line between working through pain and being stupid. The deal is this...if any of these three things occur stop exercising. You can visibly see something wrong like swelling. If you lose range of motion. If you get tingling anywhere in your body.
9.  Ask if you don't think your exercise is correct. For instance f you're doing rows and pushing with your knees and flailing back with you're doing it wrong. Isolate the muscles with simple movements.
10.  Like everything in life... you HAVE to find ways to make it fun.
I hope you all keep coming back. Mile 14 will be  road tripping soon and I promise it'll get funner....nice word huh?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Something's Fishy around Here

Here at Mile 14 we've taken fish and made it a lifestyle. Of course we're known for catching them but we spend quite a bit of energy talking fish, eating fish, dreaming fish, sometimes we even argue over fish ....but you only need tour the grounds here at what I lovingly call ' Rancho Deluxe' to see we believe in the moe-joe, we want people to notice that it's a 100 % deal around here. We've got all makes and sizes, with stories of there own.
I read once where there is a town in Minnesota that has a 2 story high statue of a Walleye. Well we're not quite in their league when it comes to the fish homage but we're close. This guy is a 6 footer that greets everybody as they drive down the hill to salmon central. Our friend John Iverson built him for us a few years back when he volunteered to make a fish hanging station....that thing was really something and fits right in with my 'what's worth doing is worth over doing ' credo. Ol Sammy there just reassures our guests that they found the right place.

Years ago in the dead of winter I was hit up for a hundred bucks by a guy I new that was down on his luck and doing wood carvings. Well, when I gave him the C note and suggested rather than a loan maybe he could give me a carving I found out why he was down on his luck....that HAS to be the ugliest fish ever created. But, he's got personality.  This guy hangs by our front door and announces to people, ' take your coat off  and stay a while, I'll tell ya about that time I caught the 170 pound halibut in a 16' foot boat'.

But before ya'all come on in maybe ya oughta take a peak through that front door glass and make sure your fishing guide ain't taking a nap on that leather recliner, he works hard and needs that extra ' daytime ' sleep.

Out back where we autopsy the fish I have created a bit of a shrine to this place and what we do. I have piles and piles of  jetsam , flotsam and even a quite bit of plane old junk that I've fished out of the river in the last 35 years or so.  My fishing hanging station has the dashboard from a 1985 Ford Mustang that went into the river up on Keystone Drive but my favorite part is that palm tree you see there with all the props on it. I teleported that tree home from Mexico one year as I really wanted a touch of my other favorite place to anchor my very favorite place. And of course in the back we have one of my oldest fish....ol smiley.
And I thought it was very nice of the Guide Association to help me out with part of my project. They're always trying to get exposure and do the right things in the community so when I fished that sign out of the river I knew where it had to go...right next to all that other useful stuff.
After I took that picture the salmon run really started to peak. I looked over at my bait refrigerator
( which is taped shut for the winter so nobody will throw the door open and regurgitate themselves) I noticed a couple fish right there. That sign shows I'm official and ADF+G even depicted their entire early run escapement cool. 

Sometimes our parking lot is chuck full of people and I was wondering how I could help people find me....well, what's better than a dead fish ? So I did the cutting and someone I love did the painting and now we have this beauty on my prep shed where I keep all the highly top secret lures, scents and a bottle collection of all the fine wines and champaign  that we've enjoyed while using the other feature of the shed, the sauna.
One of my oldest and best friends, Chick Kishbaugh had the same problem and needed people to be able to find him so he had the same brilliant idea. Now his fish was a genuine piece of art work when he built it back at the start of his guide career, 1955... His fish has lived here at Mile 14 right next to my fish for about 10 years or so and both me and my fish were a little saddened when he announced his retirement this spring...I'll say this, Chick was a hell of a lot better guide than a maintenance man so don't let the condition give you a bad impression.
And when it comes to moe-joe whats better that a fish with a message ?

Don't get the impression that all our fish here at Mile 14 are fake...ahhhh....I mean replicas. We got plenty of live ones and especially ex-alive ones. This time of year the ol Kenai has this aroma that is all it's own and on Humpy years it's like walking into an Abercrombie + Fitch store....but a little different. And this pic is why. Where else in the world can find fish on a stick....gorgeous.

So I guess what I meant to be blogging  is that when people get to Mile 14 we want them to know they're in the right place. Right from the get go when they arrive at our front gate we send them some
moe-joe and it's free of course.....but hey, don't forget to put your 10 bucks parking fee in the box , OK ?

Monday, October 6, 2014


Fisherman know that the word boat is an acronym for break-out-another-thousand.  As I was putting guide boat 003 to bed for the winter on Saturday I noticed that I had yet another broken site gauge for my gas tank, the 2nd of the year.  This thing is junk but  essential equipment  , the only guy that I know who would run around without knowing how much gas he had was the dufus I bought the boat from as it came without one.  But you got to hand it to America, every Alumaweld, Willie, Fishrite, North River, Koffler and many more boats sold in the last twenty years come equipped with this thing on their built in gas tank that also serves as a step....walla....I see the problem. You'll notice that I even made a protective ring for it but still go through at least one every year like I'd bet the rest of the guys do also.
So if you want to make some lettuce just look up the Moeller company and find who  owns it and if they're a publicly traded company you're in on the deal. I've gone through one every year for 10 years at 20 bucks that = $200.00 . I figure there are at least 500 boats like this in our local area and everybody must have the same situation ( the Marina has a whole shelf of them) so....that comes to $10,000.00 in just local sales. mmmmmm.... Jeff's hot tip for the week. I know ,I know,  Dave, you're wondering what the heck we're doing with this primitive ' Direct Sight Capsule Gauge"  anyway. On that Ranger boat I'm sure you're computerized with not only fuel flow but hours and miles remaining in the tank...but me, I use a net handle for depth testing during silver season.
You're probably  wondering why I keep a handful of the old busted ones. Well, I meet a lot of people and I'm hoping some day when I get a guy into the 'what do you do for work'  conversation while we're out fishing and someone answers " I work for a Marine Co. named Moeller"....Yahtzee... He'll catch his fish of course and when he goes to tip me I'll  just ask him to send a lifetime supply of the Moeller Direct Sight Capsules,,,, you know 40 or fifty of them oughta do it.

So me and MPeasy made one last boat ride before I put the Minnow away. I was tempted to wait a bit longer and maybe fish another day of two but it was the right nice day to do a good job of winterizing.  Here's the captain and a last look at Mile 14 from the River. We actually love this time of year when we finally have our own place all to ourselves....It's a good life.

I took MP downriver to say good bye for the winter to my knew friends. These guys entertained us all season long. They don't seem to be spooky at all, I suppose they view me the same way I view them, just part of the program at Mile 14.
And yesterday when we were showing our house sitters for Mazatlán 2015 around I know Hollis Swan and his girlfriend Allie were a bit surprised when I grabbed the shot-gun to walk down to the boat launch.  A lifelong Alaskan Hollis is used to and knows guns so he didn't say a word, it just seemed natural to him I suppose.....Well, I took these photo's just this morning. So have fun here Hollis, just be careful around all our friends here at Mile 14.... safety is no accident.