Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Now that's a weekend

The long Memorial day weekend has always been one of our favorites here at Mile 14. It signals the traditional start of summer, plant the garden safely without fear of frost and the first salmon arrive. Then you have car racing and Seattle Mariner Baseball and the birthday celebrations of people I love...makes for a great weekend. And of course it's not lost on me why we remember on this weekend.

Like most men who came of age in the 1940's my dad served in WW 2. He got a battlefield commission at the Battle of the Bulge serving in 'B' Company of the 325th Medical Battalion in the 100th Infantry Division. Earned himself a Silver Star and went on to serve 27 years and retiring as a Lt. Col....Here's a pic of a true hero with my mom on his way to war.
This Weekend we celebrated MP's birthday, shes's.........ah forget about that part. She's doing great and her sister Cathy and Husband Jim brought along their friend Ken from Montana to help celebrate. It's always cool to have guests from the 48 who kind of help us get re-excited about this place and our unique lifestyle. I took a pic at our morning walk on the river.
The b-day cake was Mint ice cream with mint Oreo's, oh baby. I started the weekend out 3 pounds smaller than I am today.
I don't have to tell Alaskan's that when our moose are calving they can get pretty aggressive in protecting the young. And as we built our town right in the middle of their calving grounds these cute little guys are everywhere. I took this pic on our walk and this mom of twins was busy and wasn't the least bit disturbed by us....but then about another 1/4 mile down the trail we come across a single female. She's off the trail and we don't see a calf so we decide to walk by her by about 25 or 30 yards. Well she puts her ears back which is always a bad sign and then we see her calf.....oh oh...She first went to the calf which separated us by another 25 or 30 yards and then turned and charged full speed right at us. I gotta hand it to MP, she looked like Carl Lewis leaving the blocks. We ran and the moose stopped within 10 feet of us and I have to say, my adrenaline ran strong the rest of the day. We waited a couple days to do that same walk again and came across the signs. I wonder who else had a close encounter.
So the Mariners lose 3 in a row to the Twins, who have the worst record in the American League.  And even with that weekend performance it's a wonder of all wonders that we're in 2nd place with one of the best records in Baseball....go figure, the Seattle Mariners a contender ? And at Indy which promised to be the fastest and most exciting 500 in a long time a rookie named Alexander Rossi won by using less gas than everyone else. I remember the great Dale Earnhardt after losing a race the same way saying " we might as well all be racing damn Honda Civic's ".

My youngest son Samuel John showed up for a High School reunion so we also had a chance to celebrate his birthday also. He's turned into a steady man and you know that's the highest compliment I have for anybody. Here's a pic of the three of us at the picnic me and MP were invited to, what an honor to be the only older folks. Of all the things we wanted  Sam to be he is those and more. What I never really didn't see I guess was the culture of music that he grew up with so I'll leave you with a minute of video of him jamming on that Stratocaster he lets me keep in the garage. Normally we'd do a duet but stupid me only had one operational jack in the house. For me there's nothing better, sharing home made music with Sam.
And I'm going fishing....So next week I'll have pics of magic, and maybe even a fish. As for our local Early King's, the counts are very encouraging so I wouldn't be a bit surprised if somebody somewhere who is in charge of all things fishy actually lets people fish for King Salmon in the Kenai River. For all of you who might stumble across this blog while looking for a guided fishing trip in June.... I think it's going to happen, the numbers over the sonar are the best in many years.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Busy Work

That's my job these days. I'll tell you this much, as soon as the Fishery Managers let this fishing guide go fishing I'll be the most prepared outfit in Alaska, my stuff is shined and new lined, it's double checked and ready to rock....new filters, new line, new drag washers.... I even have a brand spanking new garbage can in the boat.

Speaking of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game ( I promise this will only take a second) , I have to hand it to you guys for doing your usual yeoman's job of not doing two things. One, your job, and two, what you tell people you'll do. You see every year for the last 35 they would release sonar counts daily starting May 15th....river people like I us deserve to know. Well, it got kinda strange for the ADF+G so they decided to release the counts bi-weekly, every Tuesday and Friday staring May 15th. Well today is the 22nd and one Tuesday and one Friday has come and gone with....nadda...So c'mon you guys, let's get the info out to the people whose lives revolve around it and like the rest of us....let's be optomistic for a more normal early  King run...

The picture below is maybe the most scenic Sewer Plant in the world. MP and I went for our daily one hour walk on the beach at the mouth of the Kenai River and I just had to take a pic. I have a soft spot for that place. I spent the summers of 1979 and 1980 building that place and not only did it make me enough $$$ to get my first real boat but in a left handed way I did my first guiding. John Manson the job Supt. would pay me regular hours to take him on the river most Fridays once he heard I had a boat. So that Sewer plant which I hear is one of the cleanest and best in the state is still just a ticking away...and so am I.
It was 7 a.m. and Mt. ReDoubt had a cloud layer under it....the farther we walked the more it 'opened up' and I reminded myself to not take this for granted, what a gorgeous place.
I snapped a pic of the beach looking back towards the river. I guess you can see that our neighbors are getting ready for their commercial season . We didn't run into the deal that made those tracks, just another couple hikers....it was wonderful.
We all know whats coming, the hectic mad rush for red salmon. This beach here gets thousands of dip netters, you've seen the pics I'm sure. So I took a couple pics of the crowd control, kinda jumped out at me don't ya know. The first is at the beach in Kenai and the second at Soldonta Creek Park here in my hometown....you tell me but I think those guys in Kenai are way better in the ' NO' department. Of course Kenai deals with dipnetters and Soldotna sportfishermen so we have a softer approach eh.
And man did I hit home run with a pic. We were eating a breakfast sandwich from our favorite grocery store the IGA in Kenai in front of the bird viewing platform and Walla...birds.  When you use a lot of zoom on moving creatures you usually miss...but the other day it was perfect. bullseye.
It was pretty cool. When we drove home I had to stop along the river at Cunningham Park and see what was going on. There was a guy teaching his great nephews about Hooligan fishing and low and behold it was Greg Geller and old friend of mine. We chatted from a distance and he and I both agreed that those little ol Holigan are just like salmon but smaller....and we didn't have to say what we both were thinking that morning... it's about way more than fish. Pretty cool Greg, good job.
I've had a lot of fun lately using my I-Phone to record my music. I've been sent to garage for the summer so the sound really bounces around in there and with only the phone it's a little on the tinny side of the sound deal. Even when I use my Martin guitar as I did for this song it doesn't sound full. So if any of you guys have any ideas please holler...just don't tell me to give it a rest...please.... I have my pride ya know.  Maybe I'll get a go pro. But this Kevin Fowler song is a fun one , I like the flow of it and I hope you do to.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Man, was that ever a nice summer

Boy howdy, Slowdotna USA is coming off a 4 day run of about as nice a weather pattern as we ever get. My buddy Dan Sterchi used to say " the sun's shining , the fish are running and life is easy "....well, that's close to the truth.  There's a small public access at Sport Lake just up from my house so the other day when it got up to a simmering hot 74 degree's I drove up to see what our people are up to. It was like a Walt Disney movie. Now mind you the ice has only been off that lake for a couple weeks now so the temp can't be any warmer than 45 or so I'd guess. These kids had it going on, how about those Alaskan tans eh ?.
So those kids are throwing a football back and forth from shore. There's a fishing skiff racing around pulling a water skier, the girls on the left of the next pic are throwing sticks out for their 3 dogs to retrieve and in the middle of it all.....a guy fishing. Patiently re adjusting his bobber when the dog would head for it or pulling in for another cast when the football would splash down. You can see him on the right of the launch. I wanted to go talk with this guy of great faith but I kinda figured he had his hands full. Hey buddy, c'mon down to Mile 14 and fish where it's quieter....if the G-men ever let ya.
On our walks you can tell as MP say's 'everybody's happy. She has the most wonderful way of applying human values on the birds, the bee's and even the flowers, which we call ' the kids'.  The Eagles at the river are getting some fish guts from the guys who dump it after being to the saltwater where they are allowed to catch and even kill early run Kenai River Kings. Even though the pic doesn' t do it justice the first fish guts of the year attracts a heck of a crowd.  And the guy building the nest is getting some work done....And, this morning we spotted our first new born of the year.
You know how I like lists so here's a quick one on what all I got done this weekend. It really was the kind of weekend I love, sunny with some chores to do, music playing, maybe a game on the TV in the garage....long evenings, here we go.

1. I built something over the gate to MP's garden for a vine to grow on, I think she calls it an 'arbor'

2. Game of Thrones....they ain't gonna like it when John Snow and his wolf go back up north.

3. Mariners drop 3 in a row....but hey, they're doing GREAT...

4. Fire up all summer tools. Lawnmower, weed eater , bluetooth speaker.

5. detailed the Subaru....I don't know where I got this but I just love washing and waxing the rigs with some good country music playing and a......cold beer....for me, it's the essence of summer.

6. Detailed the old White truck...that baby is pushing 20 years old and you have to admit that it's a pretty sweet rig. I bought it 10 years ago from Irv Carlisle who is legendary around here for being a 'car guy'. Shortly after I got it he asked hows it treating me. I told him it's costing me a fortune....every time I drive by a car wash it pulls in.  97.000 miles on it.
7. Two one hour guitar practice sessions. Sorry no song of the week but I have a new one almost ready.

8. Went to the movie to see Money Monster . George Clooney is great.

9. 2 hikes and one bike ride....my knee's are feeling much better.

10. Went to the local Sportsman Show....that show is dieing a slow agonizing death. I have to hand to our local G-men ( State Parks, Alaska Dept. Fish and Game ) if you've ever thought that although you can never get them on the phone at least you could get a question answered at the yearly Sportsman Show...well forget that, they're dodging it along with your phone calls now.

11. Cooked a perfect, and I mean perfect Rotisserie Chicken. I think I'll quit right there. I know it's kinda goosh to publish pictures of food....bet hey, I'm the same guy who published himself in a speedo eh ?
ya gotta have the pan to catch the drippings or you learn the hard way...a conflaguration, or a even really big fire .

Sunday, May 8, 2016

All dressed up with no where to go

For about the last 35 years come the 1st of  May I'd get my boat race ready and usually be if not the 1st then one of the 1st to run the river and catch a fish. Well this year I almost got lazy and decided to wait after all we're at the mercy of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game in this new era of 'you can't fish until the commercial guys can '....but it just felt weird not to be in the boat so even with my knee's killing me I put the Black Boat #003 together over the period of  couple days. One thing I know is that if you want things to last , take them out of the boat so every year so I reinstall my kicker motor, wash down pump, seats, radios, etc....and ya know it just made me feel good, I guess the routine of it all, the lifestyle of it all, do I dare call it the ' culture' of it all ???? Here's a pic of my favorite boat sitting in it's natural element across the gravel bar that me and Mpeasy are searching for goodies on. If it looks quiet, serene and gorgeous, well it is.
For me part of the fun of the early season is the challenge of running the river at ultra low water. Only the savy run the river this time of year with a prop, we don't cheat and run  jet boats like the G-men do. But even that ain't what it used to be. Because of the mild winter I guess and the warmth of it all the glacier is melting a ton and the Kenai is the highest it's been this time of year that I've ever seen. It's also getting it's green petina that indicates glacier water winning out over the brown/clear water of the tributary's....it's whole new era we're living in. Here's a pic of yours truly with a few goodies. Not only do we cherry pick the good stuff but MP and I take all the garbage off the river we find...love this place.
Ya notice I have two knee braces on....it's seems the chickens are coming home to roost. As active and healthy as I try to stay I think they're just wearing out. My grandpa had knees so bad he was almost crippled by my age. My dad's knee's although a bit better bothered him into an inactive lifestyle and both my sister and brother have had their knee's replaced....so....my turn or so it seems. But I have a theory about ageing and it has a lot to do with motion and staying in motion so for now I'm just putting the braces on, smearing my knees with a pain killer that we bring boxes of home from Mexico and moving on.....Here's pic of my first haul of marine salvage.
A pair of Fisker brand scissors that were actually sharp and MP confiscated, a useable Fish-On rod holder, a net handle, 2 Kwikfish, 1/2 a pair of size 12 wading insoles, a hook disgourger, 3 Vibrax #5 spinners and assorted liquor bottles and beer cans....We'll do better tomorrow.

In the ' What in the hell is that ?' department Mp and I came across this car on our walk the other day. It was parked at a motel and had Alaska plates and has these law enforcement references decaled on it. I got no idea what this deal is all about but I guess it's some kind of new program our local police are doing....looks like it'll fit in right along with their new armored assault vehicle. Please, if any of you have seen this before and know what it is speak up for me, I need to know.
I just gotta use my You Tube page so how's about another ' song of the week ' ?  This one is I sing for MP ....and it's a true story.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Whats the matter here ?

The other day hundreds of Geese flew over our heads here at Mile 14 so the next morning MP and I decided to go bird watching on the Kenai flats like we've done for decades. The birds stop and feed in the wetlands at the mouth of the river and although their numbers aren't what they used to be it's still mighty darn impressive...but.... we couldn't fine them. How ever we did find the largest flock of gulls I've ever seen and you have to admit, the views from the flats are stunning.
We went to the south side of the river and looked for the Geese along the roads that lead to the salmon Canneries were I worked and delivered salmon as a kid, I have fond memories of this area. The smells of the fishing industry and the energy of it all is so uniquely Alaskan. I was thinking all of this when we came across a disturbing sight, I don't understand.
We're all neighbors here on this little trip around the Sun and it bothers me to see this. It's not really about Sportfishing. I mean do they really think that Fair Chase people like us would want to walk through their  cannery just to wet a line in the tidal mud and fish the oily mud water with no hope of a Fair Chase bite ?...no, they don't think that, this is just a message, 'we don't like what you guys do and we don't like that every year more people recreate for fish and even teach their kids and family' and.....It's amazing to me. Last year somewhere around 1300 commercial fishermen caught and sold 3.1 million salmon. I don't blame them for that, I really don't, in fact it's impressive....what I DO blame them for is that they would begrudge people like us the few that we catch and drive this wedge into a  wonderful community. For perspective I went through my 2015 logbook that I keep accurately every year. My old black boat had a total of 159 people fish from it and caught and kept 171 salmon....That's a lot of smiles, a lot of hours and a nice little bump for us and I don't think it's too much to ask from a resource that supposedly belongs to everybody.

The contrast in all of this wouldn't bother me so much if I hadn't the experience and know the players here like I do. Some of our most outspoken commercial fishermen are people who really ' recreate' with commercial fishing as they have other jobs. One is local school principle, one a north sloper, another a local dentist....and we even have a State Senator who not only gets a retirement and health care from the State along with legislative per diem but he also works full time for Conoco/ Phillips Oil Company....So how much Alaska does a guy need I'd ask....maybe you guys could leave a little for everybody else. And cut it with the messages, a bunch of us know what you're saying.
I'm thinking a nice loud song oughta help me right about now....here's a Daryl Dodd song that's new to me that I really like, hope you do.
And seeings how I got my YouTube channel finally up and running here's a video I promised a few years ago that I was never able to figure out how to load on the blog. Me, Tony and Slah got into a herd of Spinner dolphins out of Mazatlan that was incredible. It was really rough that day so the video is a bit choppy but man oh man....these guys were jumping completely out of the water, there were hundreds and hundreds of them.