Thursday, August 18, 2016

At Homer part 2. In and around the Homer area June 23-July 4, 2016

At Homer part 2. In and around the Homer area June 23-July 4, 2016. 

We spent an enjoyable 2 weeks in Homer. We had a mostly quiet spot at Mariner park with a great view of Cook Inlet out our side & front windows and/or our front yard.

Moon setting with the sunrise shining on the mountains

I can't say we did much exciting in our two weeks here. I covered the main event, the trip to Seldovia, in the last entry.

We don't travel as though we are on vacation. We travel to go places and see things at our pace. No reservations requiring us to be somewhere on a particular date or time. We move and go when we feel we have seen what we want in an area. We partly staying in Homer for 2 weeks to get though the 4th of July weekend. We got here early to be sure we had a scenic & comfortable spot to be for the 4th of July weekend. Which we do.

During our 2 weeks here We mostly took a few short driving trips, ate lunch a few times in town, visited the museums and visitor centers here. More on that later.

On the road leading to Homer Spit there is a sign pointing to fresh salmon for sale, 3.4 miles along Kachemak Dr.

We drove there just to see what they had for sale. It turns out they have salmon for sale on Tuesdays & Fridays. The commercial fishermen are allowed to fish on Mondays & Thursdays. They pack their catch on ice and some of the catch is brought to a warehouse store for sale.

Our first week here we bought a whole, head on, 6.5 pounds Chum salmon for $2 a pound. We had to filet it ourselves. We pan broiled a couple of pieces, very tasty. Sharon also made a dill sauce to put on the salmon.

I also decided we would make fish soup out of the head and bones. The soup turned out OK, but not a recipe to keep. Mostly simmered the fish for about 15 minuets and then picked the bones clean. We added some veggies to the water from cooking the head and bones along with salt, pepper and some spices and cooked them til tender, added the fish meat back and vow la we had soup.

The second week we bought a sockeye (red) salmon for $4.50/lb. The sockeye is the premium species. Again the fish was about 6 pounds, however we bought one without the head on. More meat less waste.

We pan broiled a couple of pieces and have not been able to tell the difference between the lower price and higher priced species. I guess we will need to taste them side by side and see what we think.

We visited the Pratt Museum, great displays and info about the area, people, history and wildlife around the Kenai Peninsula. Well worth spending 2-3 hours there.

We also visited the Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center. Again very interesting and informative displays.

We also found a small out of the way bagel shop right next door to where we bought the salmon. Outstanding bagels, made fresh every morning. We ate lunch here several times.

Driving tours near Homer:

If you are staying in Homer for several days, be sure to drive the East Rd to where it turns to gravel. There are good views of the glaciers across Kachemak Bay. The gravel part is in good condition until you get to near the end where it switchbacks down a 20-25% grade to the beach. There is one switch back I had to back up about 10' to make the turn. We are in a Chevy Colorado p/u not a full sized truck. Also a 2 wheel drive vehicle may not be able to make it back up. The sharp turns keep you from having the speed and momentum to keep going. I went up in 4x4 low range.

From the East Rd, there are good views of the glaciers across Kachemak Bay. (wild roses blooming in forground)

A picture of Alaska Cotton wildflowers in a ditch along the East Rd

Another nice drive is Skyline Dr along the hillside above Homer.

Tidal Pools at minus low tides:

If you stay at Mariner Park, or you can park in the day use area, it is very interesting to walk out to the tidal pools at minus low tide. It is best at -3' or -4'.

Unfortunately I never had a sunny day to go to the tidal pools so these pictures aren't as nice as I would like.

The rocks and sand at low tide. I believe the rocks are erratics, left by the receding glaciers from the last ice age.

Attached to the large rocks (boulders) is a variety of sea life.

An all white sea anemones. This one is about 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter with very fine tentacles.

A pretty one reaching out horizontally. This one is about 4 inches in diameter. Notice my hat right above for size perspective.
Same as the above, only hanging down to reach the water

This one is hanging down over a foot to reach the water at low tide.

A blue tinged star fish clinging to the underside of a boulder

A star fish waiting for the tide to come back in.

On one of my walks I saw this pair of bald eagles. A mature and an immature one.

The mature eagle decided he wanted the boulder the other one was sitting on

And chased the immature eagle away

And to end this blog entry several views from our front yard here at Mariner Park in Homer:

A bald eagle on the beach. Look for the bright white ball with a dark object below in the upper center of the photo below. Some years ago we were told that to find the bald eagles, look for a big white golf ball in the distance.

The bald eagle taking off and flying away

Views from our front yard:

Next up, Seward, AK

At Homer part 1. Boat Tour to Seldovia. June 22, 2016

At Homer part 1. Boat Tour to Seldovia  June 22, 2016

The first full day at Homer we had a beautiful sunny day. We took a 7hour boat tour to Gull Island and Seldovia. More info on the boat tour here.

Leaving the small boat harbor

Out in the bay

On the way to Gull Island we saw this poor young humpback whale tangled up in the rope from a buoy.

A couple of days later we found out he got untangled with help from the wildlife people. If he was unable to get free he would die.

Our first stop was viewing Gull Island, a sea gull rookery. There are a thousand or more birds on these two small islands. 

Right now there are serious problems with the gulls nesting. There are a couple of immature eagles living at the island. A few times an hour the eagles will make a pass by the cliffs scaring up gull. Makes it very difficult for the birds to stay on the nest while the eagles swoop by.

Approaching Gull Island. The little specs you see around the island are the gulls flying

Gulls on the rocks and common mures in the water.

A few of the gulls managed to lay eggs in these nests

I guess that since these nests are back in kind of protective overhang they feel safe from the eagles.

The eagle is sitting on the tip of the rock in the upper right corner in this photo

A closer view of the eagle

Near the island we saw these rafts of Common Mures (Common Murre). They fly out to feed in the evening and come back to rest here during the day.

A closer view of the Common Mures (Common Murre)

Detailed info about Common Mures (Common Murre) from the Audubon website.  

From Gull Island we slowly cruised along the coast line and a string of islands to Seldovia.

Some views along the way:

The rivers flowing into the bay here originate from glaciers and have huge amounts of glacial silt in their water. When the bay water is still the silty water creates a distinct border with the clearer water of the bay.

Sea otters floating

A couple of the otters sunning themselves on the rocks

A view of one of the islands with Iliamna Volcano in the back ground.

If you look closely in the above photo you will see some yellow kayaks just right of center. On several of these islands there are private cabins for rent. From Homer, water taxis will take you the cabin you have rented.

We arrived at Seldovia right at lunch time with about 3 hours to explore the town, or to take a hike on one of the local trails.

We opted for lunch at the Tide Pool Cafe with a view of the harbor.

Fish & Chips

Lunch was OK.  The fish had an extra heavy layer of batter and not a lot of fish. Pricey at $18 each.

After lunch we walked around town.

A bald eagle posed for us in this tree along the boardwalk.

A closer look

Back at the harbor we posed for a picture

More info about the town of Seldovia here and here.

On the ride back to Homer we saw a couple of whales at a distance. I was unable to get a picture though.

We did see these sea otters a few miles from shore in about 400-600' of water. I thought they stayed in shallower water. I guess not!

A view of the water & mountains

Back at camp we had some very nice views from the side window of our motorhome and/or our front yard.  Just another reason we dry camp rather than stay in an RV Park. 

That's all for now.