Vacation Memories: Part of an ongoing series reviewing past trips.
Homer is a tourism destination in Alaska. The scenery screams “Look at me! Visit me!” Once you’re there, you are amazed at the beauty, history and charm of the small fishing community. Located along Kachemak Bay, Homer is considered the “Halibut Fishing Capital of Alaska.”
We spent a couple of days here with friends during our visit to America’s Final Frontier in 2008. Our daughter Mallory, Lisa, Mark, Ron and I made the 4.5-hour drive from Anchorage to Homer. However, because of the beauty of the area and the attractions along the way, it stretched out a little longer, as I recall.
We visited Alaska’s 4-diamond resort in Girdwood – Alyeska. It was beautiful. The resort is busy year-round, with skiing and other winter sports available, as well as hiking and more during the warmer months.
We had to stop at a true tourist roadside attraction. A wood-carving business offered life-sized creations of bears, fish and more. We each checked out the larger-than-life rocking chair.
A must-see point along the route is Volcano Point. You can see dormant (and recently active) volcanoes across the water. Mt. Iliamna and Mt. Redoubt are the best known of the group. Mt. Redoubt actually erupted a few years ago.
As we were taking in the view of the volcanoes, someone alerted the guys that there a grizzly sighting a short distance away. We loaded into the truck quickly…and went looking for the bear. It wouldn’t be the first time we went searching for bears. But, at least this time we were in a vehicle. No luck in finding the bear. It likely kept running into the woods.
As we approached Homer, we had to make one last stop at an overlook. Alaska is so beautiful, that for someone from our neck of the woods, almost every trip around a curve offers more scenery to take in. This time, the overlook gave an amazing view of the bay, mountains, forests and sky. Eagles flew overhead. It wouldn’t be our last sighting of the majestic creatures.
The view of the Homer Spit – a long strip of land that stretches out into the bay – was magnificent. As you approach, the Spit impresses you with the homes, businesses and spaces. We saw our first eagles upclose on the trip shortly after arriving at the Spit. Mallory and I got out of the vehicle and approached as closely as possible for some photos. Again, not the last time we’d see eagles that close.
We stayed in a suite at the Land’s End Resort. It really as at the land’s end, as the only thing separating it from the water was a small beach front.
We took walks along the rocky beach. There were decent sized rocks embedded in the sand, along with broken shells. It was a beautiful view regardless of the direction you looked.
The water gave us some great views. Mallory spotted a dot in the water and wondered if it was a sea otter. Bingo! It was enjoying dinner. It would dive and resurface with a shell and tear it apart. We spent several minutes adoring it.
The shoreline business area was fun to visit. Shops were built on stilts (to prevent flooding). It was fun checking out the different stores along the way.
Having worked up a thirst, our group hit the Salty Dawg bar for refreshments. In the shape of a lighthouse, the Salty Dawg was a fun place to visit.
The Salty Dawg is a combination of separate buildings that were eventually attached. The first section was built in 1897 and served as the town’s post office, railroad station, grocery store and a mining office. Twelve years later, a second unit was built, and it served as a post office, school house and grocery store. At one point, a large group of people lived there.
The Salty Dawg Saloon opened in 1957, and joined all sections into one building. The bar’s interior is filled with notes, ball caps, bras and dollar bills from people around the world.
Can anyone really visit a fishing community without checking out the local marina? The Homer marina just happens to have a nice background of the bay and mountains. Also, apparently, I was the only one in the group who did not find a couple of the local boat workers attractive. LOL.
Staying with the boat theme, we visited the Seafarer’s Memorial. It honors the men, women and boats that left the harbor. But didn’t return. Dating to 1934, the memorial honors about 70 people.
Back at our hotel, Mallory and I decided to take a short walk after dinner. As we walked along the beach, we noticed a group of people standing around something. We approached and they were watching an eagle dining on fish. We were careful not to disturb it. After it finished eating and was standing, Mallory and I were able to get within about 10 feet of it before the eagle took off. Watching the eagle take off from that close was a special occasion.
Not to be outdone, Ron had his eagle moment the next day. We saw a fish wash ashore from our balcony. He went down to the beach to play with his camera and see if he could get some good photos. He did. It was fun watching him maneuver, trying not to disturb the eagle. He did a good job. Me? I just used my telephoto lens from the balcony for my photo. We all had so much fun with our cameras that trip.
As our visit ended and we headed back to our base camp in Anchorage (OK, Mark and Ron’s house), we caught a view of a cow moose and her calf a little ways on the road. We spent several minutes hiding behind the truck (not to scare or disturb them) and took in amazing views of a mother and her child. We saw a lot of moose on our trip, and each one seemed special. This one, though, likely topped the list.
Homer, Alaska, is a beautiful place to visit. The road trip there is impressive and fun. We recommend putting this location on your bucket list for future trips.