While we are fulltimers, already camping in a stunning place and pretty much living the life of campfires, beach walks and forest hikes, we decide to drive our Avion out of the park and head south to check out Homer. If you go to Alaska, you visit Homer, right? On the Sterling Highway, we stop at Anchor Point where we park in another State Recreation Area for a couple of nights. We get there late after we have first finished our jobs up north, but with the sun never leaving it’s no problem. Immediately we notice a big relief from the overload of mosquitoes that have been bothering us for days.
After a lazy morning, we head out. The views when we get close are stunning. We take some time at an overlook, and several eagles circle overhead. It’s a clear day and we are able to see several snow covered volcanoes across the Cook Inlet. We continue driving, and as soon as I see something that looks like a downtown, we turn off the highway towards the water. It’s time for lunch and we are looking for a spot for the picnic blanket that Zoe insisted on bringing with us. Driving around the small Old Town, we see a fancy crêperie and a restaurant decorated with buoys. We also drive by an actual coffee shop. It’s funny how your perspective changes from spending a while in the forest. I can’t really call it Alaskan wilderness, since we are still on a (dead-end) road and within 40 miles from a grocery store. Still, our summer spot is quite a change from our area in Colorado, let alone Europe. Some pleasant civilization is good for a change.
Alaskan bush pilot
We find a place to eat our bread at Bishops Beach, though somewhat unprepared with only one fleece jacket per person. It is such a sunny day, but windy and chilly nonetheless. The other people here are kids who stay warm by jumping and running around and moms with warm hats. I guess this is the Alaska style: summer hats. I wonder what does the job in winter. Our kids are immediately joining in with the party of children. They jump into the tall grass, hide behind the few trees that are here and play tag. We meet a friendly family of which the dad is a bush pilot. We see so many small airplanes flying every day now, with and without water skies, that we have many questions. This pilot flies out of Nome, which is a small town on the Bering Sea, close to Russia. One can only get there by airplane and it is a decent distance from Homer, so he is two weeks on, two weeks off. Tough on a family with three kids under five, but apparently rewarding as well. The dad flies a single engine plane, transporting goods as well as passengers. When I mention that that would certainly not be my kind of job, he puts that, come January, he is not sure it is his either. The temperatures drop so low at that point, and the chance of running into ice in the air gets so high, that it makes even this experienced pilot uncomfortable. So when he does hit weather, he finds a way out of it without further ado.
Throwing rocks at Bishop Beach
Being pretty much on the beach already, we walk the path to the edge of the sea to look for tide pools. The view of the Kachemak Bay with the mountain peaks in the background is stunning. We are actually not sure if we see the mountains in Kachemak Bay State Park across the bay, or Kodiak Island further south. Before heading to Homer I checked on some hiking trails, and the one that caught my eye turned out to be a boat ride away across the bay. Maybe for another day.
When we sit down with coffee, milk and pastries at the Two Sisters Bakery, another customer immediately recognizes my accent. She is not Dutch nor does she speak the language, but she is well traveled. We exchange experiences and learn more about Homer, and life on the peninsula during the winter. While the climate is somewhat tempered under the influence of the surrounding waters, life completely quiets down here. Tourists are gone and even many residents fly south. I can only imagine what Alaskan winters must feel like. Cold, wet and permanent darkness, opposite from today. The sun is still shining and it feels so good to pamper ourselves with goodies and great conversation, while the kids happily play with trucks, blocks and other outdoor toys.
Driving the Homer Spit
Before we leave town, we drive down the Spit and feel like we are in Estes Park surrounded by water. Almost 5 miles of land stretches out into the Kachemak Bay. It is a little wider than the road, but not by much. This is a major tourist attraction and the place to be for halibut fishing. Restaurants, bars and coffee shops are plenty. We keep it short and head back to our Avion. A barbecue with new friends finishes up a pretty perfect day.
Reality kicks back in when we spend three and a half hours at the laundromat on our way home. We were able to push this chore out for 9 days, and are now paying the price. With the Avion parked outside though, it is a lot easier to entertain the kids, cook dinner while the washers and dryers do the work and put kiddos in freshly laundered pajamas before we head back to our secluded forest place. We are exhausted, but it has been well worth it. We may not have splurged on usual tourist attractions, but beach and pastries are what kids enjoy most. Happy kids, happy parents.