Friday, October 31, 2008

Last Saturday was either an interesting odyssey or a fool's errand. Take your pick.
A coworker invited us out for a day of late season rainbow trout fishing. The temps were expected to be in the 20's at best, though you never know. We were headed down to the Kenai River on the (correctly name) Kenai peninsula. It's about a 2 hour drive from Anchorage. You drive south and then up through the Turnagain pass before you find yourself descending into the world famous Kenai fishing grounds. Being on the other side of the mountains means the weather could easily be completely different from Anchorage. It was supposed to be clear so we loaded up the truck and picked up the boat at J's folks' house. Due to a few weeks of freezing and thawing there was now about 100+ lbs of ice in the bottom of the drift boat. We chipped at it a bit but only had a little luck.

After deciding on letting the road bumps buckle the ice a bit for an easier chipping at the river, we set off late in the morning down the Turnagain arm. J had been out 2 weekends earlier and had taken the mountain pass around 6am, finding black ice that sent the his truck and trailer sliding across the road sideways in the Alaskan pre dawn. The road was empty and they recovered well, but it was a heart stopper for the fishermen that day. J wanted a few hours of daylight to beat down on the pass so we had a running chance at some safe travels.

As we zipped down the arm past Indian, AK and then Girdwood, AK we soon were driving into some flurries. They appeared to be just trickling over the Chugach mountains to the east. We turned south and headed for the Turnagain pass. The light snow swirled across the road and did not appear to accumulate as we barreled through it at 60 mph. The sun made all the difference and after safely navigating the pass we ended up at Skilak Lake with a temperature of almost 30. Not bad.

There were definite fractures through the plate of ice lining the bottom of the boat so we began chipping in earnest. We had better results than before but it was still slow going. We decided to chip out the net and the anchor rope and simply leave the rest.

After about 30 minutes of chipping and loading we stood together, swallowed the sandwiches along with a few handfuls of chips, and set off for the river. Skilak Lake is very large and a beautiful glacier fed blue green color. The lake was fairly calm. We needed to cross it and sneak into the river itself where we would get on those rainbows. Off we went with J at the tiller. I've been in some nasty waves with a fully loaded canoe so I know fairly well what the tolerance is for a canoe. For a drift boat -- I have no idea. I trust my captain. He completes this lake to river crossing at least 4 -5 times every month. We were soon in 3 foot rolling waves and they were starting to splash into the boat. J cut it hard to the starboard and we broke a few big ones. He quickly announced that he didn't feel comfortable, especially with 100 lbs of ice weighing down the center of the boat. No arguments were had from any of us. There were not many fisherman out that day so the chances of getting help if something terrible happened were not imminent. Also, once you're floating in the glacier fed, even if you have a life jacket, you only have 10- 15 minutes before hypothermia will take over. You're done. So we trusted J and headed back in, having experienced Skilak Lake for 10 minutes.

You can't really blame anything or anyone for that kind of outcome. It stinks, but it's the chance you take fishing in extreme wilderness under cold temperatures. If we had any tinge of stupidity bobbing around in our minds, that was soon shuttled out in favor of laughter. The group that put in their drift boat moments before us was also unloading their aborted trip at shore. They were loaded up for an overnight camping trip on the river. After being in the water 5 minutes they were now rapidly unloading their boat. We asked if they saw us and the waves and decided to bag it. "No, we forgot to the put the plug in the boat. Do you have a spare?" No, and we held our smirks. These are the types of people that die in the Alaskan wilderness every year to mere shrugs from Alaskans and horror from out of staters. We are the ones that don't fall in the lake and don't make the papers.

After a chuckle or two and a recognition of the building whitecaps on the lake, we happily packed it in and drove away. We tried to fish from the shore a few miles up the road at Dot's fishing camp, but 'ol Dot wouldn't let us walk across his property to wet a line, even if we paid him the $5 to park. Thanks, jerk. We cruised back north dejected, but comfortable in our decision to respect Alaska. I'm local now and I can fish this lake in May. The fish will happily wait.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Walking through the store yesterday I saw a woman shopping and pushing her cart with her 2 toddlers. I glanced at her hair first and thought, "That looks like a way grown out chelsea." Then I glanced down at her Skrewdriver sweatshirt. Didn't expect that. Good plan, lady.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It was a pretty big shock to see that Dennis Savard was fired as the Blackhawk’s head coach only 4 games into the season, but by replacing him with Quenneville it is hard to see the maneuver as anything but an upgrade. I was used to watching coach Quenneville across the Hawk bench while tapping on Blues shoulders to send them in for shifts where they would most likely score against my Hawks. Times change and the Hawks seem to be a younger, stronger team then the Blues. But that’s all on paper so far, but I faith that the hawks will sneak into the playoffs this year.

A decent photo update, finally.

Winter is here. We do hover in the mid 30’s during the day, but it’s into the 20’s every night. The small amount of snow we have left may just melt before we say goodbye to these lovely mid day 30’s temps for good. Regardless, in a few weeks the snow will start accumulating and I’ll be playing hockey before I know it.

This Saturday I’ll be fly fishing for rainbow trout on the Kenai River. The temps will probably be in the teens, but the trout get nice and plump after feasting on salmon eggs this time of the year -- so you bundle up and hope for that enormous, once in a lifetime rainbow. Unlike salmon fishing, there is no way we’ll be taking a fish home. The trout are catch and release only so a beautiful picture will have to be enough (if we are so lucky). It’s a world class stretch of river and this is the way it will stay that way. I’m digging the Alaskan approach to the cold – ignore it and just do what you want to do. It’s infectious.

My Vampire Counts army is coming along nicely, and should be glued and ready for the November 1st Warhammer tournament. I’m not too accustomed to fielding 3500 point armies so I don’t expect to get very far, but any play is good. Having just finished painting some crypt ghouls, I’m feeling in fine form and can’t to play weekly and continue to paint nightly.

I did finish Dennis Lehane’s “The Given Day” and felt a very flat emotion upon the final page. I love his prose and this book is no exception, though the great characters and situations just don’t pay off in the end. I understand Sam Raimi has purchased the rights to it, so perhaps the movie will come across stronger. The previous 2 Lehane adaptations were so strong (Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone) that maybe buying this property was a knee jerk reaction rather than a response to the work itself. For a 700 page book, I found it all consuming and a very fast read, which makes it even stranger to end up feeling flat at the end.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

It snowed and rained a fair amount of Sunday, but it was above 32 degrees so all that water was more charming than annoying. However, it was below 32 over night so driving to work at 6:45 meant driving on icy roads. There were quite a few ditch divers and a few stuck on median by UAA. Fall is just about over.

Tuesday morning I awoke to 2 slushy inches of snow, which was infinitely safer than glare ice. No 4wd this day.

It had all melted by noon and we are again in the high 30's, though that will change soon. It'll begin stacking steadily by Halloween...


I have a fair amount of things to blog about but I have been awaiting development on 3 rolls of film. After stopping by Walmart yesterday to drop them off I was confronted by a chicken scratch sign: "No make CD now." Ok, I'll happily not give you my film and just run by Sam's Club on the weekend.