Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two days on Deep Creek Beach

After we left Homer on Saturday the 23rd, we stopped at the gallery of Norman Lowell.  Norman came here in the 50's as a homesteader and became a very well known painter. 
Me, Norman and Bill

In the old homestead cabin

In the gardens outside the cabin

Norman's current log house

Bill outside the gallery
The paintings were impressive. Mostly of local Alaskan scenes. 

It was sunny when we arrived at Deep Creek.  The tide was just coming in and I walked up and down the beach.  We had watched people hauling back their buckets of clams from another beach before we got here.  If people were clamming here, they were done by now.  A clamming tide has to be minus 1.5 feet at least.  Fishing boats are heading back to the beach to be picked up by tractors with their trailers.
speeding up

right on the mark

hook it on

off they go
The best boatmen were the charter boats. A couple of boats did not get on the trailer well and had to be refloated so they could get on better.  The helper boy has a tough job. Hook on the trailer, ride it into the waves, hop off into the water and be ready to hook the boat on.

We also walked along a narrow path along Deep Creek. The eagles young and old were just sitting by the edge hoping for the salmon to come, but no salmon yet.  The eagles eat the salmon as they are dying after spawning.

One young eagle joined the gulls hoping for a handout as some fishermen just down from us were cleaning and filleting their halibut catch.  He really looked pitiful reduced to begging with gulls.
Three young eagles were trying to hook a sea bird.  I saw them get a talon in and drag it a bit twice.  William said the bird was still afloat but didn't look too well.

I was watching one fishing bird dive.  It had lovely coloring, a black and white checked back, black head and beak, a white and black striped neck ring and a white breast. I bought a bird picture book at the Kenai Visitor Center. My lovely bird was a common loon in breeding plumage.

This morning our next door neighbors were back in their Zodiac raft after just a few hours.  They had caught their limit of halibut, just one fish after another.

It has been a steady rain all day and we are at Beluga Lookout in Kenai.  We will have to break out the umbrellas to explore the town tomorrow.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Leaving Homer

Before we leave Homer we take a drive up to the Wynn Nature Center. It is a beautiful day as most of our days in Homer have been. We arrive for one of the guided hikes. It is a fast paced hike. Lots of roots to hop over in the narrow trail. We stop to listen for birds whose faint trills I cannot hear. We learn about flowers that are not blooming yet. Things are later than down in town in front of the Pratt Museum. The high viewing platform is a great place to see eagles soar. 

 Watermelon berry, even the plant tastes like watermelon. 

 Willow roses are caused by a midge.

Our guide

A great view
Today we will go to the Homer Farmer's Market again then head north.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Solstice Celebration

Last night we crossed the street to AJ's Steakhouse to listen to Hobo Jim. Great ballads all about Alaska.  It was heading on towards sunset as we headed back to the RV.
There was a bit of pink growing in the sky, so we got a cup of port and went to sit on a log overlooking the beach action. A number of groups are out celebrating the solstice.  Sunset here in Homer is just before midnight and sunrise is just after 4AM.  There is a long period of twilight and a bit of darkness. Further north in Fairbanks there is really no darkness at all.
Group one of celebrants

Group two with many celebrating dogs

Pink sky

A contrast with the headlands

Some celebrants decide to take a dip in the icy water

Dancing in a circle

At Midnight you can still see across the bay
We slept in and awoke to another bright sunny day in Homer.  Lovely location in the summer.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Homer Post Five

After a couple of days of loafing, walking on the beach, going to the movies, we are off to tour art galleries.
Lots of great artists around here.  Fun to look and we buy some small things.
Back to the Harrington Cabin and the nature trail around the Pratt Museum.  I am finally clear about the difference between Cow Parsnip and Devils Club.  Seeing them side by side helps.  A lady in the farmers market last Saturday was really confused.  She asked me about all the rhubarb along the roadside. Did I look like an Alaskan?  I knew that what she was looking at was cow parsnip. The leaves all do look similar.
William looks good beside this old gnarly conk
Along the forest trail at the Pratt they had a lot of natural installation art. William got some ideas for decorating his forest.
Grandbabies could help with this as the sand and stones are changeable

Sand Man
Back to the native plants at the front of the Pratt. So pretty and so many in bloom.

No cow parsnip or Devils Club here, just the smaller cuter plants.
 Since we had just a small lunch, we shared a leftover sandwich 1/2 and a few baby carrots, we went to dinner early at the fancy dinner restaurant Cafe Cups.  This place has great food.  But you need to go sometime when it is not crowded.  We chose 5PM. After we shared an appetizer of steamer clams, I had a fish dish, yellow eye rockfish.
William had lamb.

A great time was had by all.
We have a table reserved later at AJ's Steakhouse to celebrate the solstice with Hobo Jim, a genuine Alaskan balladeer. Right next to the RV park. Happy Solstice to you all.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A day in Seldovia

Today we took a boat ride out to Seldovia. There are no roads to this town. Like many places in Alaska it is accessible only by boat or air (sea plane).  On the way we tour by gull island to see all the birds.

an eagle spooks the birds and they take flight

Puffins nest in burrows in the grass on top

Thousands of birds nest on these islands. Puffins, murres, gulls, and kittiwakes were some we saw.
We traveled among some of the privately owned islands where people have summer homes.
Lots of sea otters were around. Mostly mother and pup pairs. One pair were sleeping side by side. As we came up mom woke up and pulled the baby onto her tummy. Sometimes the otters will roll up in kelp to keep from drifting as they sleep.

the otter at the bottom is rolling

We had from 12:30 to 3:00 to have lunch and wander around the town.  Lots of artistic looking houses and lots of chainsaw carving. They have a carving contest every Memorial Day.
William with an odd carved snail

Artsy house

Wonderful flowers

Lunch was here at the Tidepool

A new carving

William liked the whale

He also liked this weird old bear carving
We climbed up to the old Russian Orthodox church. It is not currently in use.
All too soon it was time to head back to the dock.  This is a very small town.  Many houses and a hotel are for sale and the only market we saw in town is closed.  We met a woman who was thinking of moving there because the houses were quite cheap.  You really have to consider all the costs of moving to a remote area.
After a leisurely trip back, we head over to the Salty Dawg Saloon to drink a farewell to the spit.
We have moved to a small RV park on the water in Homer, the Driftwood.  I think we can walk to a few places in town, though Homer does not have a high walkability index.  William has already taken off to go beach walking.

Homer Post Four

Saturday, time to head out to the Farmers Market. On our way we notice that the landing craft has been moved away. We will take a walk over to the harbor to see if we can find it in a dry dock.

The Farmers Market was small but fun. We met Jen who has a friend Wendy who is the manager of  Diego's in Grass Valley. We will say hi the next time we are there. We bought eggs, greens, green onions, radishes, rhubarb, jam and salsa. We bought the radishes and rhubarb from Jen.

Next stop after Safeway was the Pratt Museum. We are to meet Milli here for a talk about the gray whale project. Homer and the book store owner have become famous for their self taught expertise in assembling animal skeletons. Lots of marine animals live around here and many do wash up on the shores dead. They harvest and treat the bones and assemble wonderful skeletons. Hanging in the entry is a fairly rare Bering Sea whale with two very large teeth. They have done other whales, but this would be their first gray whale. The plan is to work in volunteer teams starting July 1 and finishing the end of August. The display will be finished in February.

Model of how the display will hang

Milli had a surprise for us. She found her copies of the tapes done by Albert. These are about his adventures in the Aleutians during WW II. We will have a cd made and send a copy to Milli.

We lunched at the Cosmic Kitchen. Great food here. Lots of Mexican choices along with local delicacies.

Back to the Pratt to spend the rest of the day all the way until closing time of 6PM. This is a very dense museum. Intense interactive displays with everything extremely well labeled. The Pratt has a lot of dedicated volunteers.

Outside is a compact nature trail. Many of the flowers are blooming already. Plants just go double-time up in Alaska once the snow melts.

Across from the museum is the Harrington Cabin. Many people used this cabin before it came to live here. We will have to come back as it is cooling down.

Maybe a traveler needing a place to stay

All the comforts of home

The first Troy-built rototiller 

On our way back to the campground we stop to take pictures of the ship graveyard on the spit. Someone lives in the large boat.
Someone lives here?

Friends of the old Josephine at Burwash Landing

Class K housing. There might be some building codes somewhere in Alaska, but I don't know where. I know Milli said there were no codes for her house. Old Bob, our driver to McCarthy, had a problem about the no code building. It means you cannot get insurance. So I guess you give up some security with the freedom to build your house any way you want. Also you give up the ability to get a bank loan. Old Bob was having trouble selling his house on Silver Lake. Win some, lose some.