Thursday, December 29, 2016

HOMER, ALASKA

After breaking up a long drive from Talkeetna to Homer by spending time at a musk ox farm and a reindeer farm near Palmer and then staying overnight in Anchorage, we continued our long drive down the Kenai Peninsula. The distance from Talkeetna to Anchorage is about 115 miles, and the distance from Anchorage to Homer is about 220 miles. In a place like Alaska, where there are an infinite number of side trips and sights, that could be a week-long trip, but we managed it in two days.

One of Homer's nicknames is "The End of the Road." You can see why:
The white line is Day One, and the blue line is Day Two.

The Kenai Peninsula is located on the southern coast of Alaska and is famous for its beautiful scenery. Homer, our next destination, is marked by the red dot on the map below:

Bob had read that the salmon might be running in some of the rivers and that there were some good places for animal sightings, so we made several stops along the way. Try as we might, we didn't see any moose, or any other large animals for that matter:

Here and there we saw a salmon swimming upstream, but not the hordes we had hoped for. I think it was just a bit too early in the season:

On the other hand, we did see some wonderful scenery (not hard to come by anywhere in Alaska):

We discovered that you didn't have to be high up in the Alaska Range to see blue ice:

We oohed and aahed over the emerald green color of the Kenai River. I've read that the color is caused by protein in the river, and I've read that it is caused by very fine glacial silt. I don't know which is true, or if they are both true and somehow related, but I think this is the most beautiful river I've ever seen.

We did see our first of a plethora of interesting ice cream palaces. I suppose ice cream is a natural in the land of glaciers, but I was too cold to be tempted:

We passed through the city of Kenai on the west coast of the Kenai Peninsula. It has a population of just over 7,000:

Hot pink fireweed lined the roads:

If we looked carefully, we could find multiple waterfalls flowing down just about every mountain:

When we finally got to Homer, it appeared to us that the dominant industries were ice cream parlors:


. . . and fishing. We loved watching people cleaning salmon on the docks:

They were amazingly fast. Watch this guy filet a fish in 22 seconds:

What a haul!


There were freshly caught fish everywhere. It's hard to believe there could be many left in the sea. One of Homer's nicknames is "The Halibut Fishing Capital of the World." I think these are halibut:

Homer has a lot of personality. 

. . . and doesn't take itself too seriously:


A mural on the Fat Olives Restaurant shows the fireweed blossoming alongside the harbor:

It looks a lot like what we saw:

We had lunch at The Little Mermaid Restaurant:

Where I had a delicious rice, veggie, and grilled rockfish bowl:

There was lots of fun shopping in Homer. Our favorite shop was "The Spirit of Alaska," where we bought our only Alaska souvenirs . . .

. . . including what I like to think of as a nativity scene. Created by local artist Ron Ekemo, this Inuit mother tenderly holds her swaddled child while she peers with some concern into the distance. The body of the sculpture is carved out of porous whale jawbone, and the much smoother faces are carved from a walrus jawbone.

We also bought a reindeer rug, something we think our grandgirls will love to play on--or perhaps they'll be scarred for life thinking we've killed one of Santa's reindeer.  

We loved Homer.

READING

While not exactly set in Homer, Homer was the closest we got to the Aleutian Islands and is a good reference point for The Wind Is Not a River by Brian Payton.

This beautifully written story is told in alternating chapters by news reporter John Easely, who has gone to the Aleutian Islands during World War II to report on the conflict there, and his wife Helen, who back at their home in Seattle has not heard from him in months. She does not know that his plane crashed just off one of the islands and that he is desperately trying to evade capture by the Japanese and keep from freezing and starving. Eventually Helen's love for John and conviction that he is alive leads her to join a USO tour to Alaska. Placing their narratives and desires and nightmares side-by-side creates a powerful story.

2 comments:

  1. We did love Homer. A place I could go back to - and get the bear trip we planned on and eat some more salmon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How could anyone not love this place that loves ice cream? And fish?

    ReplyDelete

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