Saturday, May 28, 2011

Oh, the trees, and the mountains and the waterfalls!

Denali (Mt. McKinley) visible behind a thin veil of clouds to the right of the tall spruce tree

Homer trip 2011 has concluded after clocking 1200 miles on our odometer.  We had a blast.  When we left Fairbanks on a blustery day, and the first day of the Moose Mountain forest fire we just drove to Denali National Park to spend the first night - a mere two and a half hour drive.  It was a pleasant experience overall, despite the swarm of mosquitoes we battled and the temperatures dipping into the low 30s (2 C).  The second night we spent by Kenai Lake, a beautiful, turquoise lake on the Kenai Peninsula.
Small Fish at Kenai Lake
Someone had left behind a rather elaborate fort built out of driftwood.  We had fun playing on, in and around it.

We left Kenai Lake behind, and we were on our way to Homer on the Sterling Highway, when we noticed  Small Fish looking out the window, singing her heart out.  She made up her own lyrics evidently inspired by the incredible environs of South-central Alaska:  "And the trees, and the mountains and the waterfalls!" That was pretty much the whole song on loop, but it was so cute that it eventually became the soundtrack of this road trip.  Whatever we saw, or experienced we attached to these lyrics (eagles, oysters etc.) and that is the story behind the title of this post. 

Homer was everything I hoped it would be and then some.  We had our own private beach front  for two days on the Homer Spit, a 4.5 mile piece of land jutting out into the Kachemak Bay.  We watched the tide come in and out, collected sea shells, dug up mussels and steamed them over campfire, fished for salmon, and made s'mores.  The children spent the entire time on the beach, their faces donning permanent smiles framed by sea-wind tousled hair.
Homer Spit: The girls playing in the sand
Fresh Kachemak Bay oysters on Big Fish's plate
A couple of surprising lessons learned: 
1. Big Fish, who normally is an aficionado of creepy-crawly seafood, had a hard time savoring the world-class, fresh Kachemak Bay oysters caught locally, perhaps because J informed her they were served raw.  I am not a fan of sea spiders, bivalves or clams, but I ended up eating half her order in part to encourage her, and in part to experience Homer at its best.

2. Small Moose is scared of barnacles.  He had a blast on the beach on the first day, until Big Moose pointed out all the barnacle covered rocks in low tide.  It was actually a little funny because my poor little guy was truly terrified and refused to partake in anything too far from the campfire.  

From Homer we took the ferry to Seldovia to take a stroll and to eat lunch.  Seldovia is a quaint fishing town with a charming, historic boardwalk, and is only accessible by sea or air. 
With the Time Bandit from Deadliest Catch in Homer
Seldovia street corner
"14 Day Parking Only" -things are a little slower in Seldovia

 On the way back home we stopped in Anchor Point just a few minutes from Homer to play with friendly bald eagles on the beach, and had a great view of volcanoes Mt.Iliamna and Mt.Redoubt.
Big Fish, Big Moose, Big Mountain (Mt.Redoubt) -Anchor Point, AK

Small Moose playing with bald eagles

Big Fish, Small Fish in Anchor Point

As a special treat, Denali (Mt. McKinley) was very much visible and glorious so we stopped for some pictures. 
Morning in Palmer

Small Moose and J at Denali lookout

We came back to Fairbanks and into 90 F (32 C) heat.  It is a little funny to think we were bundled in jackets, hats and mittens at various points on our journey.  Big Moose wants to move to Seldovia and make a living as a ship captain.  I miss Homer already as well. 

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