Our first week in Alaska has been amazing! Our son, Devan, met us at the airport in Anchorage and it was great to see him again. It’s been about a year for me, longer for Dave, as I visited Devan in Homer just before going cruising. We made the 220+ mile drive from Anchorage to Homer after a good night’s sleep at a hotel. Gizmo was happy to be rid of his carrier and sat on my lap the whole drive. Tree regrowth after the bark beetle epidemic has been phenomenal and the greenery of the state is simply breathtaking.
We immediately had moose and bald eagle sightings in and around Homer. Right by the lower pass heading to the Spit, there is an eagle nest. We kept an eye on it and on our third day, we saw an eaglet pop up! Hooray!
Having a nest so close, accessible, and easily visible is unusual. The Homer Trolley even made it a sightseeing stop. ~
Dave and I drove up West Hill Road to Skyline Drive. This drive offers views of beautiful houses, greenery, and an overlook of the Cook Inlet. As we drove along Skyline, a moose walked on the road in front of us. We slowed to a crawl to watch it for a while. The moose was fine moseying until a car came from the other direction, then it crossed the road and walked off into the bushes. Man! I just LOVE Alaska!
We pulled off at the turnout to enjoy the view of the Cook Inlet. This picture shows Homer divided by Beluga Lake and the beginning of the Spit heading across the bay. The small Homer Airport is partialy hidden behind the trees on the left on the far side of the lake, but the floatplanes land on the lake. In the distance you can see the cruise ship that just left the Homer dock and is heading towards Seldovia. My grandpa’s house, where I visited in the summers as a kid, is out of the picture at the right end of the lake.
The Homer Spit is a natural land formation that extends five miles out across the bay. It is the focus of the tourism in Homer with fishing charter companies, sightseeing tours, gift shops, restaurants, camping sites, and the famous Time Bandit when it is at dock. Right now they are probably out shrimping, since it is not crabbing season. On our way back to Devan’s apartment, a black bear ran across the road in front of us. It was Dave’s first time seeing a bear in Alaska. Unfortunately, it was too fast for me to get out my camera and take a picture. ~
Dave and I drove out to my grandfather’s favorite parking spot towards the end of the Spit, where he used to watch the boats come and go, the eagles and seagulls fight over food, and the sea otters floating by. There were lots of seagulls and boats and a couple otters, but no eagles here this time.
We watched the ferry leave to shuttle people between Homer and Seldovia (seen here with a glacier in the background). We might take that one of these days before we leave to go across the bay. We enjoyed watching all the goings on, but Dave and I sighed at each other and agreed that Alaska just isn’t the same without grandpa here anymore. ~
Dave can’t take staying in the apartment for very long, so we drove to Anchor Point to walk along the beach. We parked on the side of the road and walked to the beach. Right on the side of the road, this beautiful bald eagle was sitting on top of a tree. I walked up beside the tree and the eagle didn’t pay any attention to me at all. No threat here.
I was surprised at how many boats go in and out of the water on the beach. Someone is running a private business with a tractor that drives right into to bay to launch and retrieve boats. I found out that they charge $65 for each launch! Wow! But it must save the fishermen of Anchor Point that much money in fuel to tow their boats to and from Homer as well as the extra gas for their boats fishing from Homer. Otherwise they wouldn’t pay that high a rate. It was interesting to watch the operation.
Looking from the Anchor Point beach across the Cook Inlet, you can see a couple volcanoes. There are a total of five volcanoes on the Kenai Peninsula that are part of the Aleutian Chain of mountains and volcanoes. This one is Mount Iliamna. There is also Spurr, Redoubt, St. Augustine, and Douglas. All are active volcanoes except Douglas. I’ve been here when St. Augustine blew and covered Homer and Anchor Point in inches of ash. Usually, I only see some smoking going on. I haven’t seen any smoke coming from any of the volcanoes this time, so far… We have felt a couple earthquakes, though, and it always makes me wonder if one is acting up again. You can see that there is some glacier left below Mt. Iliamna.
I like this picture of Dave walking along Anchor Point beach. The seagulls are just getting ready to fly off out of his way. The piles of kelp on the beach are actually a really good sign. The sea otters were almost completely hunted out by 1910 for the fur trade by both US and Russian hunters. Alaska was a US territory back then and didn’t become a state until 1959. Seems crazy that it was so recent in our history, but my grandfather clearly remembered all the politics and voting going on at that time. I mention this because Alaska has 375 million acres of land and only had a population of 225,000 in 1959, so patrolling for illegal hunting was near impossible. The near demise of the species is the only thing that brought an end to the otter pelt trade. Now under federal protection, the otters are finally making a comeback and with them so is the kelp. You see, sea urchins eat the kelp and otters eat the sea urchins. Without the otters, the sea urchin population exploded and the kelp nearly disappeared. So all this kelp on the beach is a sign of a healthy and balanced ecosystem.
The returning fishermen toss the fish carcasses on the beach after filleting them. This creates a smorgasbord for the seagulls and eagles. On the left, an eagle is eating on the beach. On the right, this eagle is carrying it away from the pesky seagull. Walking down the beach, you see fish skeletons that have been picked clean. They don’t really stink since all the flesh is eaten away.
I think these are plovers. There were at least a couple hundred of them that kept flying by in large flocks. They have a neat striped pattern on their backs when they fly, but they were so fast I couldn’t get a good flight picture.
I did catch a juvenile bald eagle in flight, though. It was sitting on the rock watching us walk up to it. Just as I stopped to take its picture, it flew off. The juveniles are nearly as large as the adults, just haven’t gotten in their coloring yet.
When we returned to Devan’s truck (which we borrowed to run around in), there was another juvenile in the tree across the street. I never get tired of seeing the eagles! They seem a little more numerous than usual this summer. It is so wonderful to see the forests, oceans, and wildlife looking so healthy again!