Day Two: Homer

June 28, 2008 - Homer, Alaska, United States

Day Two:  Homer

According to Bill it never got dark last night.  I wouldn’t know of course, because of the coma but I take the man at his word.  We woke up this morning to baby blue skies and mountains towering all around us.  Yes Virginia, there is an Alaska.  And we’re in it!

We had a cup of coffee, marveled at our good fortune and headed south down the Seward Highway.  We had purchased a book called “The Milepost” prior to our trip that details the sights-to-see (as well as the places to spend your money) all along the 4 Alaskan highways.  We stopped to enjoy the views of the glacially fed Sixmile Creek where Bill’s traveling companion, Wilbur, got his first photo op in Alaska.  Wilbur at Sixmile Creek, Kenai Peninsula.jpgWe rested at a large rest area parking lot to view the confluence of the Sixmile and Canyon Creeks.  The driving was a little challenging at times today due to high wind areas, but all in all I was surprised at how well the traffic moved along – at least on the Seward Highway.  Confluence at Six Mile and Canyon Creeks, Kenai.jpgMostly I was relieved that our frequent stops and meandering did not create a mile-long back up for others!

We visited Cooper Landing to gawk at the fisherpersons and all their assorted colorful gear preparing to embark for a day of serious salmon fishing on the Kenai River.  The salmon runs are starting and as we then drove along the Kenai we could see places where the fishing was not quite shoulder to shoulder, but certainly most friendly.  The Kenai is a beautiful river with waters the color of blue that only comes from feeding on glaciers, a milky cobalt.  As we drove along I thought I spotted a bald eagle sitting alongside the road, at the top of a tree.  The darn thing was so huge I convinced myself that it must be one of those lovely chainsaw sculptures set out to fool the unsuspecting tourists.  Bill at Cooper Landing, Kenai.jpgIt wasn’t until we were nearly upon it that I realized it was truly the largest bald eagle I had ever seen in my life!  By the time I pointed it out to Bill we were almost passed.  (Later I realized that eagle spotting in Alaska is kind of like my kids spotting buffalo in Yellowstone.  They went from “Look!  There’s a buffalo!” to “There’s another stinkin’ buffalo.”  The eagles are plentiful and yet still make me catch my breath.)

We passed numerous campgrounds in this area that were full and their overflow lots were full as well.  This is apparently a big weekend for salmon.  We felt more and more grateful for having found a lovely spot to camp the night before.  Since we had no mandatory arrival time in Homer, we enjoyed stopping here and there along the way.  We took a couple of side roads (Quartz Creek Road for one) just to see what was at the other end.  We discovered there to be many pot holes at the other end of side roads.

We were now driving the Sterling Highway with large stretches reminiscent of areas in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  There were places that weren’t so lovely; abandoned homes, cars, dreams, etc.;  and other areas of vast expanses of pines. We had left the more mountainous area and arrived in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, 1.97 million acres of land set aside to preserve the moose, bear, sheep and other wildlife.  The land was more like marshland and it was nice to just ride along.

We had decided to check out the Russian Orthodox Church at Ninilchik called Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord Church. Russian Orthodox Church at Ninilchik, Kenai.jpg The Russian Orthodoxy was sent in to convert the natives in the early 1700s.  There are many of the old churches scattered about Alaska bearing the distinctive onion-domes.  The church in Ninilchik was built in 1901 and sits atop a bluff overlooking the Cook Inlet.  There’s a small cemetery filled with unique doubled crosses and the place is certainly worth visiting.  Cemetary at Ninilchik.jpgWe were lucky to be allowed inside on this day as normally the church in not open to the public.  Icons in the church at Ninilchik.jpgAlso during our visit we were entertained by a pair of bald eagles that nest on the bluff.  The gray cloudy sky, the lovely little church, the picturesque cemetery, and two bald eagles soaring directly overhead made for an almost spiritual experience.

 Our next stop was a scenic pull-off with panoramic views of the Katmai Peninsula across the inlet and the Homer Spit down below.  A light rain was welcoming us and would stay for most of the remainder of the day.  We checked in at the Driftwood Inn and RV Park.  It’s pretty amazing how the ad photos create the sense of being right down on the beach but in reality we are in a rather small parking lot with perhaps 20 other RV neighbors.  Our site does have a stunning view of the mountains though and is located conveniently across the street from Duggan’s Irish Pub.  Hm...I wondered who picked this place?View from Driftwood Inn Campground, Homer.jpg

We took a quick drive down to Homer Spit to check in with Emerald Air for our bear viewing trip tomorrow morning.  On the way we passed Beluga Lake and a cow moose with two calves feeding along the bank.  The rain was still with us but the spit was a colorful place to be sure with maybe a hundred or more RVs, several boardwalks with colorful storefronts, and what looks to be fairly large shipping docks.  There are a few places there we will return to over the next several days, but for today I was pooped and anxious to settle in for the night.  We returned to our campsite and did a much better job of leveling the RV.  Bill headed to Duggan’s to make some more new friends, and I settled down to journal a bit before joining him for one cold Alaskan Ale draft.  We took our first showers in the RV – nothing to brag about – had a tasty dinner of turkey stew and settled in for the night. 


Wilbur at Sixmile Creek, Kenai Peninsula.jpg
Bill at Cooper Landing, Kenai.jpg
Cemetary at Ninilchik.jpg
Confluence at Six Mile and Canyon Creeks, Kenai.jpg


Sister Sally:
June 30, 2008
I'm loving your updates and the photos are really great too. When we were in Russia the crosses were explained as representing Jesus and the two thieves. One of the bars is Jesus and the parallel bar is the thief who accepted him and would join him in Paradise. The bottom bar...pointing the thief who mocked Jesus. He went...well you get the picture. I thought I should pass that along just in case you are in a Triva Contest at the Pub. :-) Might just be a story they tell to tourists too.
Glad you are living every minute...but then that is something you always do!
Chris & Rosie:
June 30, 2008
The scenery is beautiful. This " blog thing " is awsome, and you are soooo good at describing your journey that we feel that we are there with you. Have you seen a moose yet? Is Bill still worried about the cats. Rosie thinks that he probably allready forgatten their names. Do you have to cook every day ' cause you're in the camper ?
Sister Sally:
June 30, 2008
Hey...I hadn't seen ALL the pictures last time I wrote! Somehow I thought the first five or six were all that were posted. Then when I saw "latest photos" I thought they were some posted by Alaskan Tourism. Quite spectacular! What an awesome trip you are having! Just awesome! I am balancing on the fine line between really, really happy for you and totally jealous! Remember, we'll be spending part of OUR summer vacation in Shepherd!
July 16, 2008
Lovely narrative. Thanks so much for sharing. Our fist trip will be in August.Can't wait! Quartz Creek campgtound is on our agenda. You have me worried now about the road leading to the campground. We certainly do not want to damage our rented motorhome. Thanks again for your experiences.
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