Alaska; Homer the Town

Alaska has few towns and almost no towns that are like we are used to in the lower forty-eight. Anchorage is a city. Fairbanks is a small city, Juneau is a small island tourist town. Then there are the string of towns between Anchorage and Fairbanks; Palmer, Wasilla, Talkeetna, and Healy. There are a few more as you head south into the Kenai from Anchorage; Seward, Whittier, Girdwood, Soldotna, and then at the end of the road Homer. Small towns are what you find. There are more towns, prosperous towns actually, along our share of the Canadian coastline (Southeast Alaska). It is in the roadless coast forests that Sitka, Ketchikan, Haines, Skagway, Petersburg, Wrangell, and the state capital Juneau are located. These smallish cities have been made economically viable by either lumber (not so much now) and fishing for both crabs and fish. This post will give you a look at the Kenai area and Homer specifically. It is just a bit of show and tell. From a birdwatchers’ perspective Homer really shines in early May when the northward migration of sandpipers and others is in full swing. But, there are always moose, marine mammals, eagles, and Alaskan forest birds.

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The Homer Spit is pretty much free of vegetation and several miles long as it reaches out into the salt water. There can be tents and campers anywhere along the first half and the outer half is where the shops and eating places are. The outer area is also where the charter and fishing boats are docked. The mountains are in sight from almost every vantage point. There is always a good view to be had. A picture of the boat harbor is in the post titled: Alaska: A Boat Ride Out of Homer.

The salmon start running in early June and the various species run through the summer into September. The King Salmon are first and highly sought after. The spawning fish have the red flesh and the non-spawners have meat that is quite white. The roe is also a treasure of the sea. This fellow was very happy to have two fish with the bright red “caviar”. He talked about how many ways he would enjoy it….I didn’t get to taste it but typically the eggs are oily and fishy tasting – a delicacy for some but certainly not all.

Alaska is a nature paradise. It is not for many people, perhaps most people. It is very outdoorsy and the blood sports (hunting and fishing) predominate. The towns protect habitat with vigor. It is interesting to see a state with tens of thousands of acres of park creating small reserves in town, but they do. The sign for the “Kachemak Bay Birding Hot Spot” was jus one of many notices announcing a bit of protected land, or a research site, or an overlook where something (beluga whales or birds for instance) might be enjoyed. The right hand image is of a huge pile of spruce cone scales with a smaller pile of collected cones on the left. Red Squirrels dismember the cones and eat the seeds that are under each scale – think pine cone…

I know that I have put out a lot of stuff on the Kenai and Homer and the landscape. This will the last one of that sort…I’ll be moving into Denali National Park with the few posts. So get ready for long distance blurry and rainy (and grainy) images of wolves and of course more mountain vistas. But here are three last images from the warm and coastal edge of southern Central Alaska. At some point I will do a couple more on the wet forest and island of the southeast.

 

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Another view of the Homer Spit looking out over the local airport.
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And another view over the bay to the mountains at the base of the Aleutian Chain. The tall one is Iliamna (again, yes I know).

 

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This is an area that has been undeveloped because in the winter when the snows blanket the hills lots of moose descend into the “city limits” and browse in this area. Willows and alders are nipped and eaten in the winter and then regrow each summer with new bushy foliage. The moose prune each year which encourages the new growth.

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