Sometimes you have to remind yourself, people pay thousands of dollars for this.
I was just getting started on cleaning a cooler full of salmon, not exactly how I was planning to spend my Father’s Day morning. I know people who can fillet a salmon in under a minute, with beautiful fillets for the freezer and nothing left on the bone.
I am not one of those people. I was looking at a couple hours of work to clean our catch.
And that’s when it occurred to me that there are people who save for years to make a trip of a lifetime just to do what was, for me, a nice three-day weekend.
My weekend actually started that Thursday evening. My wife had taken the camper out to Hidden Lake earlier in the day, and had everything set up while I was still slaving away at the office. I had taken that Friday off, but she wanted to get a jump-start on our excursion.
After clocking out, I went over to Tsalteshi Trails to help with the youth mountain bike program. The kids I’m working with are all already really good riders, and we’re having a lot of fun tackling the trails.
On Friday, my wife and I took a nice day hike. On the way to the trailhead, we stopped to watch a black bear with two very young cubs.
Our hike took us through some of the area burned by the Swan Lake fire two years ago. We had done that trail a couple of times last summer, and were amazed at how much more growth there is this summer.
Back at the campsite, the mosquitoes were out in force. I have reached the point in my life where being comfortable is more important than being tough, so we set up our pop-up screen house for the afternoon, where we enjoyed a charcuterie tray and some adult beverages while reading, conversing and enjoying the fresh air.
Before heading to the woods on Thursday, I had gotten a text from my sister, who let me know that she was quickly filling up her personal-use permit in the Kasilof River set-net fishery, and wondered if I wanted to come fish a tide on Saturday.
Honestly, there were other things I “wanted” to do that day – more mountain biking, yard work, finishing off the charcuterie tray — but it’s also nice to have a freezer full of fish, so we packed up camp early Saturday morning, and I grabbed a couple of coolers and my rubber boots and headed to the beach.
The wind and tides were in our favor, and the fishing was good. One fish didn’t even make it to the cooler – it went from the water to the grill.
After picking the net during the evening low tide and helping to break down the site, I was left with what was, for me, the daunting task of processing the catch. I was about two fish into the job and not really enjoying myself when it struck me that I was taking my weekend for granted.
To recap, I spent my weekend mountain biking, hiking, bear viewing, “glamping,” catching fish, grilling fish on the beach, and filling my freezer with enough salmon to be able to have it once a week for the next several months, all in a location that, for most people, is a bucket-list destination.
When you put it in perspective, a few mosquito bites and a couple of hours filleting fish is a small price to pay.
So, while you’re counting bears or fish or mosquitoes, also remember to count your blessings.
Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org — if he ever finishes cleaning his fish.