Ken "Hobie" Hoeve | VailDaily.com
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Ken "Hobie" Hoeve

Caramie Schnell

Ken Hoeve’s enthusiasm for life is as infectious as the beat to the latest hip-hop song. And Hobie, as his friends call him, is living life at the same frenetic pace.Year-round Hobie is the weatherman for TV8. During the summers he’s a safety kayaker for Timberline tours and an “aquatic lifestyles technician” for Dagger Kayaks. In the winter he’s a nanny for four children, ages 3 11 who are home-schooled. His afternoons are spent on the slopes with the kids and his evenings are spent running his own limousine service, called Alpen Go.Hobie is also married to long-time local Brandy McLaughlin, and they live on a five-acre ranch in Gypsum. “It’s spelled ‘Gypsum,’ but it’s pronounced ‘Gitsum,'” Hobie jokes. “I love it down there though, there’s really a true town feel to it.”This kind of humor is what attracted Brandy to Hobie in the first place, she says. Brandy’s father, the late, great Chuck McLaughlin, had a similar zest for life and was known around town as a jokester.Brandy and Hobie don’t have children (yet, he says) but they do have their own zoo five dogs, four horses, one cat and one fish. Brandy is following in her husband’s footsteps, keeping busy with her western shop, The Chrome Spur, in Minturn, and her new organizing business, cleverly named Chaos No Mas.”I went into our closet and there’s all these little dividers with my shirts all color-coded, black ones here, gray ones here,” Hobie says. “She’s a good wife. She’s married to me and that’s a full-time job, believe me.”Nearly 13 years ago Hobie read an ad about working at a Colorado ski resort. The idea stuck and, at the age of 21, he found himself moving from his hometown of St. Augustine, Fla., to Vail, ready to “surf” the snow. Almost immediately, Hobie was hired by Vail Valley Medical Center as an EMT.”It’s definitely a job that is emotionally taxing, it’s always bad stuff, people blowing out their knees,” Hobie says. “There’s rewards to it, but it’s a hard job.”Hobie stayed in the position for nearly two years until a friend’s death forced him to reevaluate his own life. Hobie returned home to Florida for a memorial fishing race for a friend that had passed away. While home, his childhood friend, Tim, was killed in a boating accident.”(Tim) died in my arms,” Hobie said, “and that’s why I quit.”Hobie’s friend fell out of a powerboat while he was spotting and the boat ran him over. Tim collided with a propeller blade and his head was badly injured.”I literally tried to intubate him with a broken fishing net,” Hobie says.To this day, the memory of his friend dying in his arms brings tears to his eyes. Although the episode drove him away from his life as an EMT, Hobie still puts himself into dangerous situations as a highly-accomplished kayaker. Along with all the local creeks and rivers, Hobie has also kayaked almost every where there is whitewater in the country.”I’ve had friends that have died kayaking and, especially when I run some of these harder creeks and what not, it’s scary,” Hobie admits. “I get nervous. I learned so much from that experience. Life can switch gears in a millisecond. You don’t ever wake up and think this is the day that something tragic is going to happen to me. Every day you have to live it like it’s your last. You should have a goal that you want to reach and achieve ultimately, but along the way, every single day live it as if it were a bonus day.”And maybe this is why Hobie has chosen to fill his cup of life to the brim ever since.”Everyday he’s like, ‘I can’t believe I’m so lucky, that I’m so blessed,'” Brandy says. “He knows it could always be taken away in an instant. He has a heart of gold and I’m very lucky to have someone like him in my corner.”The day Hobie looked down and saw some kayakers paddling Gore Creek was the same day he went and bought himself the gear necessary to try it out for himself, even though he lacked the funds necessary at the time. Two years later though, when that first kayak was finally paid off, Hobie was still paddling. He made the decision to be a safety kayaker, rather than a raft guide, and paddled every day in pursuit of that goal. Eventually, he got good: good enough for Timberline Tours to hire him.From there, Hobie decided he’d like to be more involved in the “industry” and eventually was hired by Dagger Kayaks to take care of public relations and publicity. Hobie spends much of the summer traveling to various places to hold “Paddle with the Pros” sessions, which give employees and owners of guide shops the chance to see professionally sponsored kayakers do what they do best.”I kept pitching it and finally they gave me the job,” Hobie says.During the last six weeks alone Hobie has put nearly 13,000 miles on the Subaru he gets to drive to various festivals and states.”In the past month I’ve been to Durango, Reno, Missoula, Salida this weekend is Teva, then it’s Clear Creek, then Boise. For two months, every weekend I go to a different river spot,” Hobie says.As far as this year’s ongoing Teva Mountain Games, Hobie is definitely lovin’ the five-day event. He’s especially excited for the Paddler Magazine Extreme Creek Race on Homestake Creek, an event that he and a friend created five years ago.”It was great when (the organizers of Teva) said they wanted to use the race for the Teva Mountain Games,” Hobie says. “It was really cool for me, having never kayaked a river in my life when I moved here, and them making it a part of the Games. I mean, I showed up in a water-skiing jacket my first day kayaking. I had no idea how I just knew I wanted to do it. It’s come full circle.” VTCaramie Schnell can be reached at cschnell@vailtrail.com.


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