We stopped at an overlook to view Homer, the Spit and Kachemak Bay. A quiet young city worker was painting a railing and, after a few questions, gave us a full overview of Homer, the Spit and Kachemak Bay. This aerial shot, taken later, shows the town with the 'spit' at the top. We were excited to explore the area but we wanted to get a campsite before the 'thundering herd' got in for 4th of July.
This would be our first 'full hookup campground' (water, electricity and tv hookups). We had been using our water tanks
and batteries up to now. We knew we wanted to stay on the spit, so we checked in early to the Heritage RV Park and got
full hookups, a nice laundromat and hot showers all included. The campground sprawled halfway down the spit with
everyone getting a bayside view. We had a little trouble leveling the motorhome (the refrigerator had to be level to work), but got everything set up and started up the spit to see the sights.
The first sight we saw on Homer Spit (halibut capital of the world) was halibut! These folks had gone out on a half-day boat, and this 'master halibut cleaner' was showing the kids how it's done. We were amazed by the size of these fish, and these were 'small'!
Next, we came upon this huge 'pond', built by the city of Homer attract salmon. We thought salmon would only spawn where
they were born, but apparently not. The pond was stocked with silver salmon and some of them return here each year, much to the salmon fishermen's delight (and surprise). The pond fills and empties with the tide and the eagles scream and
fight over any carcasses the fishermen leave behind. Two days later we would see it all from the air, while flightseeing over the spit, salmon pond, Kachemak Bay and Harding Ice Field!
JJ is CRAZY about eagles, so he watched the beach constantly. This female let him get fairly close before gracefully flying further down the beach...
... where two males were arguing over a halibut carcass. We never got used to these birds, their size and effortless flying ability was a source of continuing amazement.
The RV park filled up quickly with people trying to escape the hurley-burley of Anchorage and Seward and we were getting close to the 4th of July, a major event!
Homer has a museum displaying the sights and activities in the national maritime refuges and preserves which extend from Kachemak Bay and out into the Aleutian Islands. The Homer Maritime Refuge Museum visitor's center is really impressive. The building is an architectural jewel and the displays are beautiful and innovative.
The Pratt Museum shows the Kachemak Bay flora, fauna, culture of the native peoples and early homesteaders. It has some wonderful live aquatic displays, gardens with native plants, exhibits and pictures along with tools, utensils, materials and other equipment used in the area. These are demonstrated and explained by the staff and volunteers.
There is an original 'Harrington Homestead' cabin with all the household furnishings, fishing and hunting equipment actually used in the early days. The guide was a lady who actually came to Homer as a homesteader in the early days. You don't see many historical exhibits where the subject is there to answer questions.
Our 'Alaska for Dummies' guide book
recommended flightseeing with Bill de Creeft, a local legend, and we made reservations with Barbara de Creeft for the next day for JJ and Joe (Gabi doesn't like small planes). As we were doing the paperwork, Bill convinced Gabi to come along. This was to be one of the best experiences she ever had! His perfectly restored 1929 Travel Air S6000B pontoon plane was rock steady as Bill flew lazy 'S' turns around Kachemak Bay's villages, islands and inlets and then up to the Harding Ice Fields' glaciers... spectacular!!! It reminded us of our own
Big Sur along the California coast, but from above, and with someone else driving, we were far more impressed with Kachemak Bay!
We were sad to leave Homer, but we had to start getting back to Anchorage... and the trip home. After taking a long last look at Kachemak Bay and a couple of
lonely eagles, we checked out and headed off the spit and up the Sterling Highway out of town.
Sightseeing in and around Homer
Homer Spit is a fascinating destination and we could have sat on the beach and watched the eagles fight over their salmon catch for days and been quite happy. The spit juts five miles out into Kachemak Bay. It is literally a narrow strip of land containing a jumble of campgrounds, motels, artist's shops, bars, restaurants and at the very end an expensive resort (Land's End Resort) and restaurant (Chart Room) sort of stuck between a fuel depot, industrial warehouses and other old abandoned sea related stuff. We did a lot in Homer but some things we did not do and you might enjoy include:
Spit Walk - Walk to the end of the spit and browse in the shops and galleries and stop at the Salty Dawg Saloon for a beverage and some local color.
Pier One Theater located on the spit is a community effort that guarantees lots of fun and a variety of entertainment from dramatic plays to frolicking musicals. Give them a call to make a reservation and check the schedule at 907-235-7333.
Saltry in Halibut Cove is a great place for lunch or dinner. Halibut Cove is located several miles across the bay from the harbor in Homer. The Danny J. takes you there from the harbor on the spit and it is (as we hear) worth the cost $50 for adults and less for kids to visit the charming little village. Meals at the Saltry are not included and range from $10-$20 for entrees. Make reservations by calling 907-235-7847.
Hiking the Homestead Trail from Skyline Drive reminds me of the Oregon Trail we visited years ago. The early settler's wagon wheel marks are still visible among bursts of wild flowers and the crumbling cabins built by the homesteaders. We did drive along Skyline and believe me, the view is absolutely amazing.
Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies offers guided and non guided walking tours at the Wynn Nature Center. There is a small fee but the center has done a great job of preserving the natural ecology of the area in an educational fashion.
Gallery Hopping - there are many galleries in the Homer area and the best way to get to the ones you might be interested in is to visit the Homer Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center at 201 Sterling Highway and get a copy of their map showing the locations.
Bear Viewing Flightseeing takes a bit of time and is expensive but imagine? Emerald Air Service 907-235-6993 fly's small planes into very remote areas and almost always finds bears. The couple who owns the service helped in the filming of an IMAX special.
($500+ per person for a day trip)
Fishing for halibut out of Homer is THE thing to do - for people who fish! You can take any one of dozens (maybe hundreds) of charter boats out for a long ride out of the bay to open water. Halibut are huge and everyone we saw coming back in had caught fish. It is about $250 per person for the trip and a whole lot more to send the fish home so we were content to watch.
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