Saturday, August 22, 2009

From Alaska to Baja

When people ask me where I came from, I always expect a surpised look or comeback. I say "from Alaska" and the response I get is usually "Wow, you sure went to extremes!" Of course it seems that way but actually the similarities far outweigh the differences. When we think of Alaska, we think of majestic mountains, beautiful lakes and rivers, fish and wildlife and of course snow. Alaska is all of that and much more but what doesn't come to mind immediately is that if you're not near one of the 3 major cites, you might be living a pretty rustic lifestyle.

Of course the same is true here in Baja California. When we drive highway one down to Los Cabos, there's a lot of bleak areas out there that you don't want to get stuck in. On the Baja you might have a real problem if you don't have a spare tire or enough gas.

The problem could be compounded several times if you're not prepared to wait out in the heat. There's miles of remote roads in Alaska also but if you're not prepared for a breakdown, you could easily suffer from hypothermia, frostbite or even death.

Thousands of tourists flock to Alaska every year to fish. Sound familiar? The sportsmen up there have exactly the same complaints about fish management as we do down here. "Well boys, looks like the nets are gonna kill every fish in the ocean."

I can tell you one thing that doesn't change no matter where you go. Fishermen and fish lies.
When I first got to Baja, some friends took me fishing. I didn't want them to think I was a babe in the woods so I mentioned that I had fished for years in Alaska. One pal looked at me and said. "You caught SALMON right?" The word "salmon" came out of his mouth like you would spit out old gum. So I clammed up about catching salmon in Alaska and let my thoughts drift back to fishing in Baja. It wasn't long before my rod went down. Great! This was my chance to at least demonstrate that I knew how to reel in a fish. I grabbed the rod, set the hook, checked the drag and proceeded to almost get yanked out of the boat. "HOKEY PETE," I yelled calmly, "This might be a good one!" El Capitan walked over, pulled some line off the reel and mumbled something like "Tuna, maybe 30." Yeah right. I'm hooked up with Moby Dick and he's saying a 30# tuna? Shut up already. After what seemed like forever, I got my fish to the boat. There it was, a monster all right. All 30 pounds of it. I broke a sweat over a 30 pound tuna??? I was casting about in my mind trying to come up with an appropriate comment but I was distracted by excessive laughter. Then it hit me. Ball players love to come down here for vacations, right? We've seen 'em! Great big guys with way too many muscles. They all swim and snorkel. You see where I'm going with this right? Come on, how could a 30# fish put up such a fight? You put two and two together and bingo! There are NATURALLY OCCURING steroids in the coastal waters of the Baja peninsula. Seriously! I've caught hundreds of salmon, all the types that call Alaska home, but even the 60+ pound Chinooks couldn't hold a candle to a small tuna. What else could it be??

When I lived in Fairbanks sometimes I would think to myself, "What happens if the whole financial system collapses?
I'm gonna freeze here in the dark!!!!"

Not anymore........

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