Sunday, April 24, 2016

Happy wife , happy life

There's MP next to her completed greenhouse project. We went about 500 dollars over budget and my knee's are killing me but other than those small things, it's all good. I guess I learned that being a master gardener is kinda like being a just can't try and justify the expense with what you harvest, it's just not cost effective, the joy is in the pursuit. So I tell people that first tomato every year is like eating Kobe beef, it might be expensive but it ain't got any preservatives or HMO's or pesticides's just all good and it makes my best friend smile, a lot. I think the two building are pretty darn cute and matching our style, they're not store bought Lexan Gambrel style normal greenhouses, they're kinda cool.
My pictures are  a little dark because I had my camera set wrong. It's got this little spin wheel deal on it and when you change the setting and forget, well, you get screwed up pictures. Now in my world if I were to start building camera's I'd have the feature where the camera always returns to auto ( on my camera it's called ' intelligent automatic'....just a little advice for you guys at  Cannon and Olympus from us experts here at Mile 14...

Speaking of which, we have the earliest ' green up' ever. Not just by a few days but it seems to me that it's by an entire month. We have Robins arriving, Sand Hill Cranes flew over (it's impossible so miss those guys ) and we have vibrant GREEN tree's. I think I've been in Alaska now long enough to qualify as an old timer so I have to say, all of us here are duly impressed with mother just send the fish please. Here's a pic I took about half way down the hill to the river and another of the birch stand around the hay field up from our house. The pic of the hay field you can clearly see how high the moose can graze every winter, there's a certain line about 8 feet up where the tree starts, it looks almost man made like it were done by a machine.
So having a job to do this last week I made many a trip to the Hardware store, generally for me I spend just as much on gas as I do repairing a leaky faucet...the good news is that I always have enough parts left over to not fit my next project too....but I wasn't going to write about that. What I was going to write about is the unique working guy's vehicles I run into that are , a, well, uniquely Alaskan . I parked next to this guy who looked like he'd be mud bogging on television...we happen to walk out together and I asked " my goodness what happened to your truck".... he looked a little pained and only said " I  live in Kasilof "
The very next day I park next to this guy....Now that is a unique rig. It started out as a small S.U.V. of some sort or another I'd guess and then the owner turned it into a mini monster truck with overhead storage, that's also been rolled a time or two....I didn't have a chance to ask but he could very well live in Kasilof too.... I like the decals from his sponsor's.
As you can see it's a big week at Mile 14, I've turned over 100,000 reads...and that's pretty darn cool. I looks to me like I have between 250 and 350 full time readers and to all of you I just have to say " Mucho Gracias" !!!! I really hope it's been fun for all of you and that I haven't be tooooo hard on the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. I really enjoy writing the blog and we'll just ' continue with dignity' as the French climber in the Eiger Sanction stated.  And for all of you that come to Mile 14 from the link on my web page I hope the  blog has given you some insight to what this fishing guide is all about... to steal a line from my old friend Barry Woods .... " Highly experienced - mildly delusional "

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Where's a Biologist when you need one ?

I'm a pretty good river man. As I've gotten older I've learned to appreciate all of the creatures we share this special place at Mile 14 with...I guess it's a sign of healthy aging when you go out and buy expensive binoculars to watch birds with. And of course after a lifetime of watching the river flow under and around me I've seen and heard and witnessed just about everything in this natural, this morning I was a little amazed to see bird behavior that was entirely new to me.

Mind you , on all years except this one the river has just 'iced out', usually mid April. I've always been amazed that when the ice goes Duck, Gulls , Terns and of course Eagles all know immediately and start looking for sustenance. But this morning as MP and I rounded the corner on our walk we ran into a bunch, and mean a bunch of Gulls and Arctic Terns floating and feeding on the water. They would fly up to little riffle and then float down maybe 300 yards and peck at something on or near the surface and them fly up and repeat.
 As you can see these guys are in the middle, the deep part of the river. I've watched them fish for out going Smolt many, many times and that's not the way they do it and it's usually the month of May. . The Terns are experts, they circle the shallow water where they can spot the Smolt contrasting against the bottom and they dive in a get them. The Gulls are a little stupider and float the shallows where the Smolt are, this leaves me with mystery. Are they after decayed fish meat being picked up by a rising river ? Is there some kind of super early insect hatch that they  found ?  Why was it just here and no other birds up river, down river or anywhere ?....Seriously now, help me out with this. I suspect that out of my 200 to 300 regular readers I've got a couple over at ADF+G . And for sure I know I have many real expert River men that know the way, so hey, help a curious guide out, help me learn....

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Wood Butcher

Unlike being a professional fisherman I never started out to be a carpenter, it's just something that happened to me along life's twists and turns. I came to Alaska in the mid 70's with a girlfriend, no skills and according to her  " lacking all ambition ".  My friends from the early 70's were pounding nails so it was just natural that I'd get started along a life of manual labor. As a laborer first I just hated it, I ran the shovel 8 hours a day and considered it a real break if I got to run a compactor. As I broke into the carpentry I was a bit lazy and scared of heights and hated to work long hours and weekends when I should be out fishing. But I had great people around me and my first foreman was Mert Gertin ( I know, ya can't make up a name like that ) and Mert had a way of getting my competitive nature to work and taking me along with it. Because as you know....I can't stand for people to be better at things than me. Now in my 60's I kinda nurture the part of my life where I'm pretty self contained, I do most everything we need done by myself, alone....except for MP who's always with me of course. Here's the start of another green house for MP, when I'm done I think she'll have a cute little garden village here at Mile 14.
Mert gave me this advice for walking walls and rolling trusses..." you just gotta want to do it "... and low and behold into my 30's I was the guy they all needed to free walk the 2x6 walls on 2 story multi plex's. I had a way of getting the crews fired up into a kind of building contest, framing speed was job #1. So, I made a lot of money for a lot contractors. But, I've always been a bit of a malcontent. If I were mistreated on a job, I 'd quit. If pay checks were late, I'd quit. If the job smelled of safety problems, I'd quit. If I was asked to do too much, I'd quit. If I were ever yelled at, I'd quit....But the good news was that this little town was booming and I could go to work almost anytime for anybody, even the same contractor a 3rd, 4th or 5th time, I was in demand, I just wish I'd have known it a little better back then. One time I was anchored up Halibut fishing 1 /12 miles out with Gary Allison in my old Klamath boat. It was flat calm and a boat pulled up beside and a guy throws the canvas open and says " Jeff, I'm Curly Crow, I want you to come work for me ". Now I'd never met Curly but I new he was a local contractor, I said " Curly !, I'm fishing here " and he said " of course , so come to work tomorrow"..." I'm fishing tomorrow too "... " how's about Tuesday then ? "
I used to tell my co workers that you ain't full grown until you've been fired from a job. I still believe in that because it seems to me you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs and you have to be true to yourself in this ol life and ah....conflicts will occur. I worked for one Anchorage contractor that forgot the golden rule of payday being on Friday. Week after week the checks wouldn't arrive and all us would go through the weekend broke and then get a check on Monday, sometimes even Tuesday. So, about the 4th time it happened on Monday I organised everybody to quit working until the checks arrived, they finally did and I got two. My first firing. One time at a safety meeting I spoke 2nd firing. And then there was H.A, Anderson who built the Nikiski High School where I'm just glad my kids didn't have to go to school  out of fear that it might fall down on them....  This company out of Portland Oregon was HORRIBLE, No breaks, no safety, either no heat in the building or to much. every Friday they would fire a carpenter as a way to threaten the rest into working stupid hard and shutting up. But, being a Davis Bacon job I was making over 30 bucks an hour in the winter of the 1980's so even a guy like me could put up with a lot. As my guide season approached I certainly wasn't going to give them 2 weeks notice as I would a stand up operation, so when the day came to go guiding I just walked in the office and quit. The Supt. asked me why so I told him I was a fishing guide and that it's spring time. He said he'd never have hired me if he had known that...I'm not going to tell you exactly what I said but I'll tell you this....things were real quiet in that office when I left.

As I started on MP's project I kind of had a moment....I realized I was hurrying, I guess just because whenever I had the tools on I would, no need to do that anymore. I still have the moves but they're different, I choke up on that big ol framing hammer. I really , really watch out for the power tools because I don't use them like I did everyday and my finger gotta keep strumming that guitar for 25 more years or so.

As we drive through town I can point and point at things I created. I learned a trade. I took care of my kids. I met wonderful life long friends. I learned how to work....It ain't been bad and I guess as I look back it under scores what we all know. Happiness is a job also, you work at it and find love for work, love for life , love for the unintended places you find yourself.... and then you go fishing.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Old pics...Jeff's life by category

Boy did I have a big technological breakthrough, After looking at and working on my old used up computer for 3 years I found out how to transfer files to my back up... and I couldn't be happier. I had over ten years of pic as well as many scans etc in the Picasa program and finally I found the button that said 'export'. Then the weirdest thing worked.  Several times I had to turn the computer off to cool as the hard drive would lock up but after 2 days I have it all on spankin new jump drives. Yahtzee.  Of course as I went through things I found all of my forgotten favorite pictures that basically sum up my life....MP, Kenai River, Mexico surf fishing and Music.

The first series is the collages I do at Christmas, I just love the sunset collection as you know I'm an expert...If you like them click to enlarge.
Back in the day I the sweetest sponsorship deal on the Kenai River. They gave me free outboard motors I told everybody what a great product they had and helped people with propping tips. I wrote press releases and went to boat shows and just did what I do...whack them fish. The first pic is the end of May, very few boats around and lots of salmon. That guy with the vest is Geno and that day he was the last of his group to keep a king after releasing two. It's 9:30 in the morning. The second was the end of an afternoon trip, every slimey over 50 pounds.
The Kenai is famous for 70 pounders but how many people do you know that have caught a legit 70 pounder, I haven't. But my buddy Geno caught many, even two in one day. The first pic is Louise, she caught this one and her husband caught a 73 pounder as well....150 pounds of salmon in one foul swoop. Then we have Brandon, this fish was a man eater... it ran, it jumped, it fought, it lost.
I was born to sing. Every where I go if people listen, I sing. It took me many years to have the confidence or the plain and simple refusal to be embarrassed like I am now. Here's me at Arre Lu Lu's, boy do me and MP miss that place. The singer next to me is Mazatlan's best performer and he and I are friends. Then it's me and the hired man with my friend Antonio doing a trio effect at a very swank catered private party....ya just gotta let it rip.
I just love the surf fishing. I guess after a lifetime spent in a 20' boat I like having my feet firmly planted on the terra firma. It's athletic and in ways a lonely sport, you're with people but you can't just chat away like you do in a boat. We work hard and when the jerk comes it'sfantastic. We travel far, we get up at 4:a.m., we walk miles and miles and cast for hours....These pics kinda flavor it for you if you ask me. The fog and serenity of the morning. The surf crashing on you as you wade for just a bit more distance. The holy grail of surf fishes right before the release. The line up of all my friends who showed up after hearing the same reports that we did....and Slah, jubilant after working the Corvina into a crack in the rocks and crawling carefully down for the's all magic.
Of course Mile 14 is a special kind of place itself. Where else in the world could you get a pic like this from your recliner while watching the Nascar race.  I think a lot of my neighbors might have shot this guy with a gun, seems like that's the Alaska way. But me, I just said 'hold still and let me get my camera'...and he did.
If you're ever traveling Interstate # 94 along the lonely stretches of western North Dakota and Eastern Montana you HAVE to spend the night at the Yellowstone River Inn  in Glendive Montana. They got it going on. It's a mom and pop place with a Casino and Bar and the cafe had the cobbiest Cobb salad I've ever had. The staff laughs well and when I told them that they must have invented  this ' Tower of Power' that I aptly named for them they even invited us back. So serious now....don't miss this place, it''s an oasis in the desert.