June 2008


Homer Alaska

Week ending 7 June









Denis' Visit - We set out to show Denis the sights of Homer and Alaska. 
  • Kachemak Bay - The beautiful views of snow-capped mountains across Kachemak Bay were a good start and they looked so good we investigated a camping trip.  Unfortunately the weather would not cooperate and rain was predicted for the whole week - a disappointment since last week had been warm and sunny.
  • Roaming Homer - Denis took our car and explored in all directions, trying out the 4-wheel drive and finding places we had never seen in our 6 months of living here. Plus visits to the Salty Dawg saloon and Dugan's Pub introduced him to some of the local color.
  • Baby moose twins - As if a couple of moose walking through our yard were not enough, on a drive down East End Road we came across a pair of baby moose, probably only a few days old, who posed for photos while their mom munched nearby - keeping an eye on us but seemingly quite comfortable.
  • Russian River - Since the weather in Homer did not promise to improve we set out to get Denis to his return flight in Anchorage while seeing some of the sights.  Our first stop was a State Park campsite along the Russian River with excellent facilities and a surprise...
  • Bears!! - While walking along the banks of Russian River we spotted a couple of brown bears, AKA Grizzlies - the first that we have ever seen without a guide.  They were a sow and cub looking for fish in the river and seemed unconcerned with us gawking at them across the river. Many photos later they ambled into the woods - and Denis was happy to have decided not to pay $600 for a flight and a guide to view what we just saw for free.  And then on trips to Northwestern and Portage Glaciers he was lucky enough to get good views of black bears scavenging on the beach and hillside.
  • Exit Glacier - On Denis' short list was to walk up to a glacier - so the next day we drove towards Seward and 4 miles shy of that beautiful fjord we turned towards Exit, an easily-accessible glacier with a short easy walk that leads right to the ice.  Global Climate Change is in evidence as we passed signs showing how far it had retreated in the last 100, 50, 10, and finally since 2007. 
  • Sea life - The trip to NW Glacier took Denis through Resurrection Bay and its abundant sea-life.  He captured the shot of an otter munching on a crab to the left as well as orcas and seals plus birds galore.
  • Portage Glacier - The last glacier on the trip, this one is within a easy drive of Anchorage.  we stayed at the Williwaw campground with a delightful nearby creek and views of the mountains.  When Denis and Bob visited Alaska in the 70's one could view this glacier from the visitor center, but it has receded to the point that now a boat is required to travel 1/2 mile for a viewing of a relatively sedate glacier

Faizel reports: Well, it was fun to have that other human, I think they called him 'Denis', staying with us for a week.  He played with me, let me sneak onto his bed while we were traveling, and generally was fun to be around.  I showed him our neighborhood - although he was a little disloyal 'cause he played with the other dogs but I'll forgive him for that.  He also had me doing new tricks - I didn't get any snacks but the praise made it worth it.  I was sorry to see him go and I guess I'll mope for a couple of days and see if that brings him back.

Weeks ending Jun 22nd




It was with delight that we were graced by a visit by Max and Ellie Knight from Virginia. Max was Bob's workmate from IBM days and Max and Ellie joined us on our first long passage from Bermuda to Annapolis in 1989.  They took a Holland-America cruise ship to Seward and a local mini-van to Homer.  We tried to show them the sights and managed to include:
  • Moose - On day 1 in Homer we managed to find a moose for a photo-op and a bald eagle cooperated by giving them a second one - thus proving that nature is close to the surface in Alaska.
  • Russian Orthodox church - we drove them north along Cook Inlet to see the views from the bluffs along the highway. A highlight was a stop at the scenic Orthodox church with its traditional onion-shaped spires, country cemetery, and beautiful view of the inlet.
  • Seldovia - For a day we pretended we were cruising again as we took a small boat across Kachemak Bay to this small settlement.  Until 1964 this was the fishing capital of this part of Alaska with a harbor, fishing fleet, and cannery - but the big earthquake demolished the waterfront and Seldovia became a small artist colony and tourist destination during the brief summer. We walked the town (1 hour), followed a nature walk through huge trees and a rocky beach, and retired to the town's bookstore/cafe.  A pleasant day's visit.
  • Salty Dawg -And of course no visit to Homer is complete without a beer at the Salty Dawg - and the tradition of tacking a $1 bill to a free spot on the wall.
  • Halibut Fishing - Max insisted he was going fishing, so up early to meet the boat at 6:00 AM - he was kind to the rest of us and departed quietly.  But at midday he returned - with 2 BIG halibut, nicely filleted and ready for the bar-b-que!  It was delicious!
  • Heavy lifting - Their timing was not the best as we had bought some equipment off of Craig's List and we drafted them to help load and unload 2 truck loads of engraving equipment and supplies - probably a ton of stuff, literally. 
  • Comb Museum - We passed but Ellie visited a little-known local attraction, the Miller Comb Museum where a lady displays her private collection of combs of all varieties - a very exotic hobby!
  • Anchorage - Max and Ellie planned to continue their Alaska adventure by driving north to Fairbanks and Denali, so we started them on their way by following our favorite route north through the Kenai Peninsula. We camped one night and wrapped up the trip in Anchorage where they picked up their RV for the rest of their tour.

Unfortunately the end of their trip was marred by a medical emergency but all turned out well. It was a delightful visit and reminded me of why I have enjoyed their company for almost 40 years.

Engraving equipment - The equipment that Max and Ellie were conscripted to transport  included a complete engraving business for sign making, and enough supplies to last a long time.  Bob's hair-brained idea is to turn this into a small cottage business since there are no sign-makers in Homer or the surrounding area.  At the moment, it occupies a large portion of the garage and a bedroom - we'll see how this pans out.

Energy Audit - Alaska is offering assistance to people who make an effort to reduce their energy consumption, so we decided to take advantage of it.  The first step is to have an energy auditor check the house and make a set of recommendations.  In the middle of an otherwise busy week we found time to let Ted poke around the house, put fans on our front door, and give us a punch-list of a dozen things we can do.  The State of Alaska basically pays for the audit, and a big chunk of the improvements - sounds like a no-brainer!

Week ending Jun 29th

Bill signing with Governor Palin - Our local Alaska state rep., Paul Seaton, got a bill passed of local interest, and to bolster his image, Governor Sarah Palin visited to sign the bill into force, and she showed the locals why she is such a popular person.  About 200 people packed into the Islands and Ocean Center to watch the event and shake hands afterwards - we joined in the melee.

Unite For Obama - As supporters of Obama we were notified of an event sponsored by Kat Haber, a local supporter of many environmental movements.  Not knowing what to expect we  showed up (after getting lost) and had a very interesting afternoon meeting about 15-20 members of the community, sharing food and our reasons for supporting the senator, and getting to know each other. Among the supporters who showed up were Phillip Alderfer who is the Democrat running for the Alaska House seat for District 35 and Paul Seaton, the Republican incumbent. Kat was an excellent organizer and it got many people motivated to actively work for Obama.

Mohs Surgery - A short trip to Anchorage allowed Bob to donate a piece of skin to a surgeon in exchange for the hope that it will stop growing abnormally.  And of course we loaded up the car with lots of Home Depot stuff!