Saturday, July 9, 2016

Kenai Peninsula, Homer, Alaska June 28 – June 30, 2016, Days 59 - 61

Overlooking Homer, one can see snowcapped volcanos that give credence that Alaska is in the midst of massive change:  Augustine (4,000+ft) last erupted in 2006: Illiamna (10,000+ft) constant plumes of steam and gasses; Redoubt (10,000+ft) erupted in 2009; and Spur (11,000+ft) erupted in 1992.  This coupled with the great earthquake of 1964 justifies that Alaska is NOT a land at rest.

Johnson Lake State Recreation Campground, Mile 110.5, Sterling Highway
Tenderfoot Creek Campground, Mile 46, Steward Highway

Being connected is now the limiting factor in keeping the blog up-to-date.  When WIFI is available, there are time limits, data limits, and the whole process is VERY SLOW!!  This being the case, blog updates, while sporadic, will include multiple sites of interest.
Road leading to Homer

One could spend a month on the Kenai Peninsula and never see it all.  Nature abounds and there is always something more around the corner.  We are becoming “wilderness snobs.”  We pull into a town with more than 10 non-eclectic residents, we then feel that we have left the WILDERNESS and anything that the community might have to offer is beneath us.  As usual with such snap judgements we are entirely wrong and show ourselves to be total “Cheechacos” (Northern rookies-newcomers) that we really are. There is always something interesting!  The ride, via the Sterling Hwy, to Homer was no exception.  Located in the Kenai Peninsula on Kachemak Bay, the town was named after Homer Pennock (a local prospector) in the late 1800’s and is renowned for its halibut fishing. 
Nikolaevsk Chapel

Johnson Lake Campground was used as our home base and we used our Yaris dinghy to visit Homer.  Along the way we stopped in Nikolaevsk, a settlement of “Russian Old Believers.” Consisting mostly of Russian Orthodox, family oriented residents who live a self-sufficient lifestyle, it is an interesting and picturesque setting.  Chatting with one elder resident, we learned what it was like, from her perspective, growing up in this community.  Now 82, as a child she remembered that the community was very tight-knit.  The children, many from large families, would go to school (near where their church stands today) that was on the hill overlooking their community.  At lunchtime she and the other children would go down to their homes to eat and climb back up to the school and in the winter it was “ever so cold.”  The community worked together and helped one another as needed but her family depended on trapping, fishing, and gardening to supply their needs.  Her father would be gone for days on end checking his trap lines, sometimes on foot and sometimes by dog team.  When she grew up she married within the community but her children left to pursue a life down in the “48” with one becoming a physician and then returning to Alaska.  Sadly, time has taken her husband, some of her children, and the community is in decline.
Bald Eagles soaring above Homer

Sterling Hwy descends “Homer Hill” through a series of twists and turns that offer “expansive views” of Homer Spit (a popular peninsula that juts into the bay), Kachemak Bay, and snow-capped mountains that rise out of the bay with breathtaking sheerness.  Bald eagles abound throughout the area as they soar catching the updrafts of the surrounding cliffs.  Once down this 6% grade the traveler is greeted by this modern and “tourist oriented” community.  It is here that many cruise ships dock so that their passengers can get a feel for a “real Alaskan fishing community.”  Perhaps this is a stretch but it is a fun town with adventures for all, a welcoming community, and beauty without bounds.  This area is famous for halibut with some of the catch as large as 300+ pounds.  That is a lot of Friday dinners for someone!
Near Homer

Tenderfoot Creek Campground, alongside Summit Lake, was to be our home for one night but due to the beauty and good fishing, we ended up staying two days.  Returning to Anchorage for groceries and a tire repair, we then ventured on to Palmer and beyond on our way to Valdez, Alaska.

Augustine??  Near Homer

Andrea enjoying it all!

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