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Pete’s Alaskan Tales…. epilogue – I had a dream

June 23, 2017

….my clients long ago bedding down after a full day of reeling in fish after fish, I sat by the campfire my mind wondered over the many things in my life that had brought me to this moment. I tried to piece together how the myriad of unlikely occurrences that took a 48 year old printing pressman from a large East coast city to literally nowhere at the top of North America. This was the end of the last of the Yukon river fishing trips that I booked and I reflected on the many highs and lows of the summer now ending.

Had it indeed been 48 years of living a life that was determined by the clock and how much money one had in the bank? Living a life where one danced to whatever music our employers played and hoping and at times praying that we did a good enough job that we would get a raise or a bonus so it would make our lives easier. Having a home, one like millions of others, on a cramped street where late at night if you decided to turn on the television your neighbor could hear what you were doing. Living a life where one sat for hours in traffic simply to get to work or when the weather report said a storm was approaching the people around you acted like it was the coming of Armageddon at the local supermarket.

Considering I lived unconcerned in a remote cabin where one would not be surprised to open one’s door and find a bear facing them my nervousness before the first show and my self doubt that I would be able to book any clients let alone provide them with a great vacation was in itself unnerving. For my whole life I had always worked for someone else and overall delivered what was expected of me. Now it was a different story I had painted a picture for the people I encountered at the outdoor shows and now I had to make that picture a tangible reality for them.

This Alaskan tale has both a sad and happy ending. Sad in that soon after I brought my boat to Manley Hot Springs landing where I kept it moored the local youth decided it would be fun to borrow it on occasion and of course left me stranded at times when I showed up with my clients ready to embark on their fishing trips. But also good because both myself and all my clients but one ended up having the fishing trip of a lifetime.

From the four guests from ‘Pike masters of America’ who traveled the world hunting down great locations to fish for pike to a couple from Pennsylvania who had to sell off some of the timber on their property to pay for the trip they all rebooked future trips with my mentor because I delivered what I promised. But like most things in life it was the first fishing trip I remember most fondly. It was a trip booked by a man from Denver for him and his father. As his father was getting older and extreme trips like this may not be shared again he wanted on last great adventure with his father.

…and I knew from the afternoon of the first day of their trip it would be a success for him because I saw in his fathers face the look of a man totally happy. Everyone of us has unknowingly had that look at one time or another. Maybe at the moment we said our I do’s or first looked at our new borne child to the more mundane uplifting we felt at a concert where our eyes filled with tears at the shear beauty of the music. Whatever our reason when I looked at the mans father I saw that look and it was reinforced by the fact that his father would not stop fishing even for a shoreline lunch, in fact it took my moving the boat out of the stream to have them stop for dinner.

There are some things that require words to know how one is feeling about something, but with this father and son one only had to look at their faces after they landed their fish and the looks they gave each other I knew this would be an Alaskan adventure they would remember for the rest of their lives.

…and I must say that feeling was contagious
because even though this was now my business
I watched each new client
for that same look
and knew by the end of summer
I too had found the adventure of a lifetime.

 

For those of you who may have missed this video in previous postings

This was a vedio I created from the trips on my first season

and later used at various outdoor shows.

Pete’s Alaskan tales… I had a dream part three

June 20, 2017

Video frame of ‘Pete’s Dream’ on the Tanana river

Chapter three
clients and a boat too big

…this was the second year I was working outdoor shows across the US. Last year I helped man my mentors booth selling his bear and moose hunts and answering questions about Alaska but this year I would have my own booth and I was a bit unnerved by the more than 100,000 people who passed by during the ten days of the Harrisburg Pennsylvania show. Les had told me to just be myself and talk about the fishing trips as if I was sitting in my cabin talking to a friend.

I knew from the previous years show at the Harrisburg Outdoor Show that about 98% of those that stop and inquire about the hunting trips were just window shopping and were never going to book a $1,500 vacation in the woods. However I treated each person who stopped to talk as a potential client and never shortchanged anyone and maybe because of this by the time the show finished I had a deposit filling four of the potential eight trips for the coming summer.

A 20 second look at my both at the 1997 Harrisburg Outdoor Show

The two following shows were in Huston and Denver and I managed to garner another 5 clients filling another two week slots. I was heading home with six of a possible eight weeks filled with paying customers. Now with cash in the bank only one element was lacking… a boat.

I guess it was putting the cart before the horse by booking clients before I had a boat to take them on their once in a lifetime adventure, but getting a boat would be a huge investment and it was a good feeling that I had the money now to afford a nice boat. In these first few years in Alaska I have been on many different boats when fishing but for the purpose of the trips I planed I had a specific type in mind, an aluminum inboard jet boat, and after a day of internet research I was off to the factory to test drive one.

After a number of hours running the ‘Snake river’ in Hells Canyon I knew I had found the boat I would use on my Yukon river fishing trips. It was responsive and powerful enough to handle the strong Yukon river current but was also comfortable enough for my clients to travel in any weather condition in comfort. So after taking delivery I was set for my five day road trip hauling my boat to its new home in Alaska.

Now all that remained was breaking the boat in
during spring hunting season
and I would be ready to provide my clients
with the adventure of a lifetime.

Pete’s Alaskan tales… I had a dream part two

June 16, 2017

Photography by…. Tricia Lynn Burokas

Chapter two
paperwork & itinerary

….sometimes the things we accomplish in life in no way prepares us for traveling down new paths, and this was one of those times. It was 1997 I had just finished my second year as an assistant hunting guide which was basically an internship where you get paid little or nothing for doing the work no one else wanted to do and hopefully you will pick up some of the ‘tricks of the trade’ along the way. Now I was setting out to try an establish a fishing guide business by January when I worked with my mentor at our first outdoor show of the season.

A little more than three months was all I had, before that first outdoor show in Harrisburg PA, but as I dug further into what was needed I could see light at the end of the tunnel. To be licensed as an Alaskan fishing guide in 1997 was more like law in the old west where there was very little regulations at least compared to becoming a licensed hunting guide with its three year apprenticeship. As far as a business license it was merely a matter of filling out the paperwork, making sure no one else was using the same company name in Alaska and bringing all of it with your application fee to the state courthouse.

While I was filling out the necessary paperwork and setting up a business account at the local bank I was designing my fishing packages based on my two years of fishing in Alaska. I new to be successful one needed something different to literally ‘hook’ your potential client and I thought I had the perfect ‘lure’. There were already thousands of fishing guide business in Alaska for Salmon, Halibut and Trout plus many of the visiting fishermen wanted a solitary, ‘I am the only one fishing for miles around experience’, so I developed a week long wilderness fishing expedition down the Yukon river.

I envisioned that after that first night in Fairbanks when they arrive they would not be anywhere near civilization until the day before they were to return to their homes. The next day they would be on my boat heading down the Tanana river fishing two of its feeder streams that I knew contained Pike of various sizes. By that I meant the first stream I would stop at had only small Northern Pike in it and I did this because I wanted to build up the clients anxiety level wondering if they had made a mistake.

On the second side stream of the day they would be placed on water that for anywhere but Alaska contained some very nice sized Pike. In fact my first clients were so engaged with fishing on that second stream, they never stopped for lunch and it took me moving the boat to stop them for dinner. That nights accommodations were on a sandbar at the confluence of the Tanana and Yukon river, and though a truly remote and barren spot it was brutally beautiful.

Suffice it to say by the time we reached our goal the Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge and its overabundance of monster Alaskan Pike any wisp of anxiety left my clients as they acted at times like children let loose in a candy store.

With the trip outline in my mind
it left just two problems
I didn’t have a boat
or any clients

What did you expect…. the shootings in Virginia

June 14, 2017

No solution just a few words
of observation
to ponder

Early this morning we were witness to the obvious evolution of the violence seen since the November election. A man, James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, who anyone looking at him would not suspect as a deranged killer went on a shooting spree targeting Republican members of congress at a baseball practice. Hodgkinson before the practice was reported to say, “are these the Republicans or the Democrats” practicing, officials commented.

We have been witness to the many violent protest and counter protests by those that feel somehow President Trump rigged the election. Similar protesters, faces covered in black hoods, clashed with people having free speech rallies in Berkley California and Portland. With the supporters of President Trump ending up being beaten for their show of support is it any wonder that today we see the next logical step in this evolution of violence?

Sitting isolated in my apartment
watching video of the violent protests in the middle east
mirroring what we witness across America today
is it any wonder
that some of these disturbed losers
have picked up their guns?

Pete’s Alaskan tales… I have a dream

June 12, 2017

…no disrespect intended with my use of the title of Dr Martin Luther King’s 1963 civil rights speech, because like almost everyone of us we hold deep inside of ourselves thoughts and dreams of what we would like our lives to be and I am no different. Now one would think someone like myself being able to live for decades in a truly open and free land like Alaska that would be enough, and it was for the latter part of my life in Alaska. However when I first arrived and sought out a way to be financially independent in my life there it was almost always with myself looking over my shoulder at my dreams.

Chapter one
The birth of a dream

….as autumn’s cold mist rolled off the nearby lake and evening turned into nite the camp fire was beginning to smolder as I sat poking the embers, my mind far away wondering what to do next with my life. I had been here in camp for nearly three weeks from setting it up for the first clients to today getting ready to close it down for the season. I had worked as an assistant hunting guide each spring and fall for two years now and had one more to go before I could apply to get my own Hunting guides license, but I did not feel that this is what I was meant to do here in Alaska.

Because of the skill of the master guide Les Cobb I experienced and learned many things in these past two years. From our average twenty spring black bear hunts to our fall moose hunts I now knew much about tracking, skinning and butchering our kills, but as I sat here alone by the dying fire I came to the realization this is not how I would make my way in Alaska.

During my ‘off season’, from the middle of June till the end of August, I had traveled around the state looking for outlets for my son’s Alaskan video series that he shot in 1995. During these first two years of travels I ended up garnering outlets ranging from Anchorage to Prudhoe Bay but knew sales also was not for me. However during those trips around the state I fished the waters from the Prince William Sound in Valdez and the many streams and rivers off the Richardson and Dalton highway to the feeder streams along the Yukon river and with that exposure the seed of a possible future for me in Alaska was planted.

So as the final embers of the camp fire now winked out I thought about those good times I encountered when I stopped and fished while out hawking the DVD series and I remembered the hundreds of times I went fishing when I lived in Pennsylvania and slowly a realization bubbled to the surface… Why couldn’t I figure some way to combine my passion for fishing with a way to make a living here in my new home? I had no idea of what was involved from getting a business license to the fishing guides license or more importantly what a guided fishing trip offered and where to run those trips, but I was now determined to find out.

As the now dead fire
allowed the full chill of the cold moist air to sink into my body
I had no idea of how to put this dream into motion,
but I was now sure
what I wanted to do for the rest of my life in Alaska
and that was to
make my lifelong dream a reality

Rock and roll…. old style

June 6, 2017

.…I shut the television down, no sense wasting a good mystery when I could barely stay awake. It was 2 am and as I had for the past few months I was binging out on Netflix detective shows every night until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. This being the direct result of my overwhelming feeling of fruitlessness over the passing American scene. I guess it was more that I felt the more than 700 post’s I have written over the years were nothing more than an exercise in futility.

I believe I have come to the crossroad in life where it appears it may be more advantageous to just join the masses of citizenry and focus on the ‘me’ more than the ‘us’. I do realize that this overbearing feeling is compounded by the harbinger of summer here in Texas, the heat, but even without the compounded misery of the heat and humidity the literally daily witnessing to a total lack of common sense shown by our elected leaders has, I believe, broken me.

Why bother being concerned with anything that happens in Washington or for that matter around the world when there is not one thing anything I say or do will change things. It may be time to join the majority of Americans in their pursuit of personal happiness. When you consider only 57 million out of our nations 325 million people even took the time to vote one must consider that 268 million people just don’t care what happens to our country so why should I.

After all when you have our countries elected leaders acting totally insane why should we bother wasting our time with them. When I see Nancy Pelosi berating the President for not visiting countries in alphabetical order during his first international trip or even the Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf supporting school policies that force children to share shower facilities with members of the opposite sex and neither of them being called out for their stupidity I figure why should I care.

So as the weather report calls for
the beginning of a long week in the 90’s

I ponder the fate of Sisyphus
as he fights to roll that boulder up the mountain
only to have it roll back down

and compare it to the tens of thousands of words
I have typed over the years
and wonder whether I should continue
or
join the masses.

No to the Paris accord…. Armageddon or money machine?

June 2, 2017

This will be a different posting than I have done before when it comes to science or politics because I will be doing very little research and instead just using my common sense. The only web site I used was the European commission on climate action (aka the Paris accord) and what the commission calls the, “cornerstone of the EU’s policy to combat climate change”. Guess what folks this whole end of the world scenario because the US is dropping out is over one thing OIL.

I did go through the outlines and goals of the accord, (as stated on their web site), and it is completely about stopping everyone’s use of anything made from petroleum because of their carbon emissions Their way of doing this is simple everyone pays their share of a carbon tax based on how much carbon we produce. Simple… no way because you may think that even though you do not drive a car you are going to pay little or nothing but what about when you turn on the lights or sit in that chair made of plastic… sorry somewhere down the line a petroleum product was involved.

Granted they will not be taxing you personally, at least in the beginning, but they will be taxing the company that made that plastic chair or electricity and don’t you think that company will pass along the tax to you its end consumer? For those of you using a gas stove or heat your home with gas its the same deal you will see an increase in your bills due to the carbon tax put on the natural gas producer.

Our earth has gone through many cycles of “climate change” making some areas normally frozen the year round now warm but this is how it has been for a millennium. The only difference now is that we have 7.5 billion people on the planet and 1.2 billion motor vehicles added to that climate change. So as much as we want to put the global climate change fanatics down their opinion that the world is getting hotter is based in fact.

So what are we to do? Many say we should have stayed in the ‘Paris Accord’ and reduced our carbon emissions by the 40% in 2030 that the EU accord is aiming at, but look at that figure on a personal level. How would you reduce your use of anything that can be traced back to a petroleum product by 40%? Excluding the two major petroleum related items, (your car and electricity), most things in your home have some relationship with oil.

The first thing I would do is look to replace the source of electricity and reduce what it takes to operate a vehicle. No I do not mean switching to electric cars, because rather than putting gas in your car you are charging your car with electricity from a plant that uses oil, gas, coal power to operate so in essence you are not reducing your carbon footprint. America and the world must research and develop a completely carbon free source of power. The only completely clean choices we have right now are solar, wind, geothermal and nuclear.

Looking to the future we have fusion power on the horizon a completely carbon free source of power using only water as its fuel. Research center around the world are working frantically to be the first to have a working prototype because they know it will be more valuable than all the oil in the world.

So even though Trump

is dropping out of the Paris Accord

it is definitely

not the end of the world