Thursday, October 22, 2015


There's a few problems with life at Mile 14. One of which is that around this part of the wilderness we have limited choices for travel when that inevitable ' cabin fever ' sets in, when we all get that human urge to migrate and satisfy our curiosity by seeing new things. So it's either north to Anchorage which everyone says is only 20 minutes from Alaska or south to Homer where the ' land ends' . Homer is the groovy town in Alaska and known as the home of country star Jewel, writer Tom Bodet and my friend Hobo Jim and it's an absolutely gorgeous place. In true ' Jethronian ' style we showed up for a hike on the beach at exactly low tide without even consulting the book and the clouds parted and magic was made. Here's the views from the Homer spit looking west and east.
Of all the ' things ' in life I guess my two favorites are guitars and boats so after a stop at Cornish Music to talk story with Steve we hit the harbor... I just love the smell, the look , the names and stories of the boats. The ugly ones and the pretty ones, the high liners and the hanger on ers , the sport guys right next to the... guys, I like it all.

Last year in Mazatlan I got a pic of a boat running quad 150's and boy was I impressed with that. Well this landing craft trumped them pretty good with 1200 horsepower just bolted on...did you know that the Transatlantic speed limit was set by an outboard powered boat ?  True story, the  Liner S.S. United States held the record for years when a crew on a 30 footer beat it, one of the secrets to the success was the nature of the outboard, they carried spares and when they had failures they just unbolted it and let it drop to seafloor and bolted on new one.
Here's my two favorite boat names....How often to you see a mermaid holding a gun with tattooed arms and sporting  mohawk hairstyle....perfect.
The harbor has many ' live aboard ' boats. Not as many as South east Alaska but quite a few.  I've noticed that the live aboard sail boat people in Mazatlan are an interesting bunch so it wasn't that big of a surprise to me to run into this guy here....I didn't want to pry so I fired off just one shot because he was in there sleeping but you can see his breakfast making and all eh ? Now THATS and Alaskan. He kinda made me feel better about my retirement plan, or lack of.
 So me and MPeasy had to agree that prettiest boat in the harbor was of course a sportfisher. This lap strake wood boat was gorgeous and huge. It was built by the Seaman Boat Co. and all exposed fasteners and a gorgeous flair to the bow. It looks to be a New England lobster boat design and you could tell she's made for the weather...
Naturally it didn't take me long to find the fish. This guy here goes out alone and comes back in with 3 immature King Salmon when the limit is two.....mmmmm.....You see in Alaska where harvest is everything we have a ' proxy '  system where you can go out and catch the salmon for your friend or relative who wants to sit home and catch the game and pound down a few cold ones and eat tater chips. These little guys are about 10 to 12 pounds apiece and like most Kings bound for any river they would have weighed maybe 25 pounds or upward if they'd lived. But no worries, there seems to be a lot of them out least for now that is.
Being a fair weather Mariner myself I should know the difference between a ' can buoy '  and a ' nun buoy '....So just because I love the sound of it this is the coolest ' nun buoy ' I've ever seen... Of course they are to give directions to Mariners with all that ' red, right, returning' stuff but the directions this buoy gives are pretty simple....have fun here. AND , its for sale by owner....wonder how much ?
Over ol smiley's shoulder there you can see the wheelhouse suite of an enterprising Homeroid . Looks a little like something out of Waterword eh ? I guess I really don't need to say it...but ya gotta love Alaska, there's no place in the world like it and Homer and it's people show us all how in one of the most beautiful backgrounds you can imagine. If any of you are planning an Alaska trip, Homer is a double duty must do. Great people, great place, and did I mention it's a pretty darn good place for fishing ????
And how about this motorhome, my new friend Jim Slinger took the pic this summer and passed it on to me....ya can't buy them off the rack looking like that eh ? I especially like the fishy front bumper.

Friday, October 16, 2015

In the ' bone zone '

And that's exactly how Geno would have put it. He had a phrase for everything, a smart alleck remark for everything, a smile for everything and an answer for everything...and all of us , the remnants of ' F Troop' will miss him and never forget him.
I don't think there's anybody on the planet that has caught more 70 pound King salmon than Geno. He caught two in one day and that one there is the one his family now has on the wall. I came home from fishing when we lived in the small house and went into the bathroom....I came out and said " Geno, there's a *^%$#@*ing fish in my bath tub" !....he gave me that look and said " well,,, you got a better place for him " ?  He had him on ice awaiting the Taxidermist and of course he was right, that was the best place for him.

Geno was 100 % Alaskan after growing up in Montana he came and worked the pipeline boom and then settled into his career as the go to guy for anything to do with Diesel Generation. He worked long and hard all over the state and had me semi- convinced that they really were communicating with outer space at the super secret High  Altitude Research Project  (HARP) that every Alaskan knows about.  One time the company sent him to Seward to to fix something on the Coast Guard Cutter and after he'd been in the engine room for hours and hours he felt movement and realized that they'd put to sea. He got the job done and insisted on seeing the Skipper to let him know it was time for him to ' go to town'. Well the Captain told him that was impossible as they had a mission so Geno mentioned that he'd have to bill them every hour out for his O.T. rate which was well over 100 bucks an hour......he told me later on " ya know Jethro ya just can't threaten the government "...he had a nice two day cruise with the Coasties.
Geno was the anchor of the eclectic bunch of friends who would meet here at Mile 14 and come and go anytime from our unfinished basement full of beds, cots and a toilet with no partitions. Chris Fejes, Keith Holtan, Paul Archibald, Chris Simmons, Jacques Lizin, Mike Cerkovnik, Thad Shumaker and others became known as F Troop. I remember going downstairs one time and the smell got me...I said Geno, this place smells like the locker room at the YMCA...he said " talk to Simmons about that "....

I called him ' Genius ' because he was one. He could fix anything anytime so I always felt safe fishing offshore with him in his Jet boat because I knew that he knew he could take care of things. His equipment was perfectly maintained, always.

He had a zest for life that was boyish in nature. One time as we came back into the mouth of the Kenai from a Halibut fishing the rip tides for about 1/4 mile were easily 6 foot tall. My Bayrunner with just a 35 horse on it and would run out of power climbing the waves and the thought occurred to me that we could easily broach the boat ( called pitch pole )  ( fall off the wave stern first ) ....all the time I was on pins and needles Geno was draped over the front of the boat just like Leonardo DecaPrio in Titanic . He would holler and laugh and we trailered the boat I confessed it scared me a bit and he just laughed....' hehehe it was great wasn't it Jethro '?

He always wore cowboy boots and I mentioned aren't they awful slick on the the ice...he said yup it gets a little sporty.
That guy on the right was the most talented guy I've ever known. Everybody wanted to be around him and I guess I still do. I won't go on about Geno's end because I know for sure he'd want us to laugh so here's a few of Genoism's.

Drop the Laundry.
Like a bum on a baloney sandwich.
Christ hates a coward.
Load test ( when life gets difficult )
Grocery sacked ( broken )
In the rain locker
Jump the Jet  ( go to work )

and of course this one he said many times and all of us need it now. ' Cowboys don't cry '.
' one hell of a guy '

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Always a better Alaskan

when you return from a trip to the 48. Whitefish Montana is a really gorgeous place...the problem with gorgeous combined with world class skiing, fishing and boating is that's a bit like Aspen Colorado, awful groovy. It's a place that is just a little different than the rest of my old home state and I guess that's alright but after you've been in the Alaska outdoors most everywhere else just kinda pales in comparison . The secret in these things in life I think is to appreciate each for what it is and not what it isn't...make sense ? So just to stay on topic here's a couple pics, the typical summer home and the good work they're doing for habitat at the same time, I kinda like the tee pee for guests I suppose.
For our very first morning walk we strolled right into a genuine Bon Spiel. Now I'd never been to one and I only know what it is because we wanted to get a motel in Ft. Nelson B.C. during one time in 1977 and all the rooms were taken. So it was kinda cool for me to see what the sport of Curling is all about some 38 years later. There was a certain excitement in town that morning so I got these pics of the action and some of the training regime.
I couldn't believe our luck, that very night we attended a real Bavarian style Octoberfest with all the fixin's. The polka music really is fun and although not my favorite ethnic choice the food was pretty darn good. Here's apic of MP purchasing a strudel for desert and we of course we had some ' pilsner' style lager.
For me the best part of the night was the Stein Holding Contest which like all the events here entailed beer and beer drinking. The gal in front of this pic was the hands down winner. She held that full Stein out like that for more than 3 minutes and then still had strength to get it to her lips. She told the crowd she was a new Montanan and it was pretty darn obvious she is going to fit in just fine.
With all the ' oompa oompa music going on there was plenty of dancing and this gal who danced alone did a kind of can-can thing that the crowd really went bonkers for. I think she had me by a year or two but I have to tell you that she never cracked a sweat, I'd be melting after trying that deal.
We decided to summit the peak at Big Mountain Ski area...with the help of the Gondola of course. Everywhere we went we did 3 to 4 mile hikes and the air at 6000 feet elevation added a new challenge to our recreation. It is absolutely gorgeous there so we got out to see as much as we could.
We found a ' summer luge' and as MP talked on the phone I noticed a lot of adults were riding it so I decided we're all in on that deal. Wow, this ain't no carnival ride. It hit speeds of 30 mph if you didn't brake and at a couple spots you actually caught some air. I went first and snapped this pic of MP as she hit the finish chute.
Naturally I was driven to the water. I wanted to use this trip to investigate the fishing possibilities and just what that was all about. I just scratched the surface but I learned enough to know that someday I need to do some destination Montana fishing. Here's a pic of us having lunch at Hungry Horse Reservoir . Good Montana table fair, a 16 ounce Rainier ( seems like the state runs on 16 ouncers ) and a bag of Lays Kettle Chips...Pepper with Sea Salt of course. And there I am in front of the Blackfoot river outside of Ovando that's a long way from the Kenai River at Mile 14 but I could see myself drifting through paddling a raft and casting a wooly bugger at the shoreline....just the same but different.
One of the things that my running buddy likes best about Montana is that it's a fruit growing climate. The valley is renowned for it Cherry harvest and Apple trees are everywhere. Here's a pic of MP taking advantage of a little ' road kill '....those McIntosh Apples were so good we walked by this guys house everyday....pretty cute eh ?
You can't go to that Part of Montana without going to Glacier National Park. I remember when my friend Tony drove the ' devils backbone ' outside of Durango Mexico he told me his Suburban could have used a hinge in the I know what he's talking about.
At the top of Logan Pass we decided to do a 3 miler to the ' Hidden Lake ' view spot. Of course it's all up hill one way and all a knee load test the other way. But we made it. The mountain where I got all these shots is just over my shoulder....kinda looks like that monolith in ' Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind '...doo-tee-doo-too, doo-tee-doo-too... And at the top they had some wild animals scheduled for us, I don't know how they do that but maybe it's because they don't kill everything some places.
As we drove the high plains around the Park and back around to Essex Montana we ran into the coolest guy and I just might steal his business model someday. Sitting on this gorgeous overview was the 'Traveling Piano Man' . I heard him before I saw him, he had a tip jar of course but I have the feeling it was the love of music combined with this place that really drove him. A Montana original this guy and all I can say is....wish we had more like ya in this ol world buddy.
The big reason for the trip was MP's mom's 90th birthday party. She has this huge wonderful family and and they all came out....lots of love. It seems Mary is kind of gentling with age as I think she is starting to like me.  Our oldest son Max came out from Minnesota and he and I stayed at the Iconic ' Lamplighter which has been run in Helena since the 1930's. With the exception of Closing time on Saturday night when things got a little loud it was a wonderful stay. Here's the whole fam damily.
Me and my best friends as we are breaking camp.
Tom and steady friends.
Well I know this is turning into a novel but I thought you'd like the pics. I got a few more things to expound on but I suppose now is a good time to quit...and notice I didn't say a single bad thing about the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game....But do yourself a favor and enlarge this next pic of the old Menu form the Oxford in Missoula. This place has been around since the 1800's and is the place where we'd all refuel at 3 a.m. when I was a skiing / college bum....before I became a guitar playing fish bum of course. I'll never forget forcing down a platter of Brains and Eggs at 2 a.m. and then feeling like I accomplished something....ah, it's a good life grasshopper.