Day Four, Homer

June 30, 2008 - Homer, Alaska, United States

This day was an unscheduled “hanging out” day.  After the bear viewing yesterday, we did go out to eat on the Homer Spit where we dined at a place called Pescador’s.  fine dinin' in Homer.jpgWe had met one of the cooks at Duggan’s our first night in town and she had described how the place uses fish caught that very day for its dinners.  Bill, not being a big fish guy, had steak fajitas but I dined on salmon that was certainly the best I’d ever had.   It wasn’t a cheap meal, between the two of us costing around $42, but we’ve spent that much before at home.  The atmosphere was a bit on the Fran Drescher side however.  We’d chosen to sit “barside” because of the view of the mountains.  The bartendress however loved the sound of her own voice and freely voiced her opinions about the poor bear management (i.e. too many) in Alaska.  This was not really what we wanted to listen to after having spent such a glorious day among the critters.Seafarer's Memorial.jpg

Today was Monday and we had a leisurely morning.  Around noon we strolled uphill to check out some of the small shops in town.  (It didn’t look like that big of a hill until we were about ¾ of the way up!)  I always feel compelled to look just in case that once-in-a-lifetime find hits me right between the eyes – but it didn’t.  We then took a long walk over the bridge at Beluga Lake and on up the next hill.  It was a clear sunny day with temperatures probably in the 60s but the breeze was a bit chilly at times.  Since we were in the neighborhood we decided to check out the Homer Brewing Company.  It was actually located within about a block of where our float plane had taken off the day before.  Once inside however, it occurred to us that if we wanted to purchase any of Homer’s finest brew, we’d have to carry back over hill and dale.  Lupines, Beluga Slough Trail.jpgBy now, we had covered at least two miles and although a cold beverage may have been refreshing, we really weren’t that desperate.

We returned to our RV a bit tired from our stroll and with only one jar of Loganberry Jam as a souvenir.  Bill spent some time figuring out how to hook us up to the sewer dump.  Thankfully his first attempt at clearing our tanks was successful.  (I’d kind of hate to see what an “unsuccessful” attempt resembled.) 

I wanted to check out the Pratt Museum in Homer although my feet were tired and the map we had did not have accurate distances marked.  Homesteader's Cabin, Pratt Museum.jpgWe decided to unhook and drive up there late afternoon.  Once we arrived we realized it wasn’t a far hike at all from our campground but we have actually gotten quite good at leveling, at least at our current campsite.  Because we arrived at the Pratt Museum shortly before 5:00 and they close at 6:00, the curator waved the fee and no, I did not ask him to!

The Pratt Museum is a very interactive museum with lots of exhibits relating to Resurrection Bay and homesteading in the Homer area.  There is also a large exhibit pertaining to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, as well as history of the 1964 earthquake.  Inside Homesteader's Cabin.jpgThere are skeletons of marine mammals suspended from the ceilings, lots of places to sit and listen to oral histories of settlers and seamen.  Drawers under the glass exhibits can be opened with even more treasure to view.  One room is a marine exhibit and houses several tanks with marine life (octopus, sea urchins, eels, etc.) along with a webcam that is installed on Gull Island.  There were also mountings of the many birds of the area.  I remarked to the lady working that area that I did not realize what a small bird puffins were and she immediately honed the webcam in on a puffin on Gull Island.  She even pointed out the hole where the puffins make their nests right into the earth and advised us that the babies do not come out from the hole until they are full grown. Tools of the Homesteader.jpg She asked if we had sandhill cranes in Michigan (we do) which prompted me to remember having thought I heard, then saw a pair flying above us as we walked back to our campsite.  She confirmed that they are smaller in Alaska than in the lower 48 and that indeed there was a nesting pair in the area we had walked.

Outside the museum proper is a homesteader’s cabin preserved on the grounds.  It consisted of basically one room with a loft for sleeping.  (Boy, you’d really have to like each other a lot to live in such small space 24/7!)  The Pratt Museum also contained a great deal of local art work.  I would recommend another traveler take some time to stop there.  It would have been well-worth the price of admission and was certainly a steal for the donation we left!

We took one last drive down the Homer Spit so I could grab a couple photos of the Seafarer’s Memorial there as well as one of the front of the Salty Dog Saloon.  We’d stopped in there very briefly the day before (or maybe the day before that!).  The walls and ceilings are covering with $1 bills.  It’s definitely seedy but also a “must see” place.

When we arrived back to our campsite, the neighbors next door struck up a friendly conversation.  Ann was a lifelong Alaskan and Randy had live in Alaska for about 15 years.  They had recently sold their Alaskan property and now winter in southern Nevada, and summer in their fifth-wheel trailer in Alaska.  We started out at their picnic table and when it got really chilly they invited us to step into their lovely trailer for some smoked salmon spread.  Well, the salmon spread led to cheese and crackers that eventually led to Randy cooking up some fresh bites of halibut with garlic butter.  Ann had owned and operated a bar in Soldotna and her bartending skills were still apparent.  These were lovely, friendly, warm and welcoming people.  I was so moved by the generosity that I ran back to our RV and grabbed a jar of Mexican beef that I had canned and brought along for several of our meals.  (We had already held a discussion on the virtues of canned meat and fish.)  Ann then produced a jar of smoked salmon and one of raspberry-jalapeno jelly and pressed them into my hands.  This was a wonderful evening to be sure.  Bill and I were blessed to have spent it in their company.  We toddled back to our own home around 10:30 p.m. in the broad daylight.  Our plan is to leave here comfortably early in the morning and head toward Seward.


Pictures

Beluga Sough Trail, Homer.jpg
Homesteader's Cabin, Pratt Museum.jpg
Inside Homesteader's Cabin.jpg
Lupines, Beluga Slough Trail.jpg
 
 

1 Comment

Vera Brandt:
July 9, 2008
Kelly, we didn't spend much time in Homer but certainly enjoyed your tour and experiences. We remember the fellow on NPR who frequently read one of his essays, who lived in Homer. Can't remember his name. Unexpected travel companions often make for wonderful memories.
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