Tim and I left the campground in Ninilchik on July 24, a beautiful, sunny day, to make the short drive to Homer. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect. Would the town be overrun with people, including fishermen? Would we be able to find a place to camp on a busy weekend? Our first view from the top of Baycrest Hill on the approach into town filled us with anticipation. Homer is blessed with a spectacular location at the tip of Katchemak Bay. Score number one for a breathtaking setting.
|The View from Baycrest Hill|
(I'm Not Sure Why We Didn't Stop at the Overlook for Real Photos!)
Our first order of business was finding a place to camp. Like Seward, Homer has established a series of campgrounds along the waterfront on the Homer Spit, a narrow strip of land that juts out into the bay. It was Friday, but still early in the day when we arrived, so we were cautiously optimistic that we might find a site on the water. Mariner Park is the first campground that you see when crossing onto the Spit, and it’s also the smallest. We pulled in and snared the last remaining beachfront site. Score number two for a campsite with a fabulous view of Katchemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains.
|The Sites Were Close Together, But the View Was Worth It|
|I Could Get Used to This View|
|Kitty Also Enjoyed the Beach|
|The Beach Was Just Outside Our Door|
|It Can Get Pretty Windy in Homer|
After settling in, we drove back into town to find a place for lunch. The Cosmic Kitchen had been highly recommended by several folks, and we would agree with these endorsements. We would later discover other interesting restaurants, like Maura’s Café and Two Sisters Bakery, which offer imaginative and delicious entrees prepared with local ingredients. Who knew that Homer was a foodie destination? Score three for a creative restaurant options.
Add to this mix an art scene and the historic Old Town area and you have a city that Tim and I truly enjoyed. For some reason, however, I didn’t take many photographs while we were in Homer. Perhaps I knew that I would wear out the camera on the day trips that we were fortunate enough to book at the last minute.
|Quirky Art Installation in Old Town|
Homer is a gateway to many nearby destinations that can be reached only by plane or boat. Two of those were high on my list of priorities – Lake Clark National Park and Katmai National Park. We didn’t start researching options, however, until the day before arriving in Homer. Talk about lack of planning! Since Homer’s location is the closest to both parks, there are lots of companies that offer flights. Advertisements for “bear tours” abound, with guarantees that you will see bears. Since it was a weekend, we were just lucky, I guess, to find availability on flights to both parks.
Weather is always a factor when flying by small plane to remote areas, and both of our original flights were cancelled. Fortunately, we were able to extend our stay in Homer, and the operators were able to rebook us on later flights with another outfit. It seems that all of the companies try to work together to ensure that visitors get to experience what is often a trip of a lifetime. I’ll tell you all about our adventures at Lake Clark and Katmai in the next two posts.
In the meantime, Tim seized the opportunity to book a fishing trip on the day our first flight was cancelled. It was too late to find a halibut charter, but he was able to spend the afternoon on Katchemak Bay fishing for white fish with Rainbow Tours. Although many of his shipmates caught Pacific cod or walleye, Tim came up empty-handed once again. He assured me, however, that he had a great time, fish or no fish. That’s what counts!
|An Afternoon of Fishing on the Sizzler|
|Heading into Katchemak Bay to Look for Fish|
By extending our stay, we also had more time to do some exploring in Homer. I was able to visit my first farmers market in Alaska. Although I arrived too late to score any fresh produce, I was happy with my purchase of smoked salmon. Tim and I also drove the length of the Homer Spit but found it a bit too crowded for our liking. Although the views along the way were beautiful, I’m so happy we chose Mariner Park as our campground instead of one farther down on the Spit.
|The Drive Along the Homer Spit|
|The Boat Graveyard Along the Homer Spit|
|Where Boats Go to Die|
|Lots of Activity on the Homer Spit|
Our next door neighbors at Mariner Park were Brenda and Hector from Island Girl Walkabout. I had started reading their blog when I discovered that they were also traveling to Alaska this summer, so I immediately recognized their RV. Tim and I enjoyed chatting with them and comparing notes.
Homer is definitely a town I would return to, and I can certainly understand why it is such a popular destination for visitors and Alaskans alike.