Homer, Alaska
Photos and story by Joy Zuckerman

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF HOMER, ALASKA

A golden opportunity came my way last month- a chance to visit Homer Alaska with friends who are related to the Mayor of that quaint town. Despite only two days notice, and me being in the midst of route canal, and the drama of purchasing a new car as mine had been recently stolen, and juggling work schedules- despite all that, I heard that still deep voice that said: “GO!”

 

And Yes- the trip was long with a crying baby screaming miserably in the seat next to mine for the flight over and a lady who couldn’t breathe if I reclined my seat- but I was high on a feeling that I was about to have the time of my life! Ten days and 2500 captures later I am here to say that Homer is a magical paradise gifted with nature at her finest.

 

My taste buds liven at the memory of the fresh picked wild berries we devoured for breakfast and the clear glacial water that ran through the pipes. Not to mention the fresh halibut, salmon, Alaskan crab and the hugest razor clams I ever did see. At sunset, enjoying a cocktail on the terrace, clam stew wafting, moose munching wildflowers with their calves nearby. I turn my head ever so slightly and the vista holds a brand new drama- an eagle soars and circles- the backdrop is a sky bathed in blues, mauves, pinks and golds. I turn a bit more and the mist and cloud formations dance about the glacial mountains and volcano, all of this beauty reflecting in the glistening river. And to top it all off, rows of bright red fireweed are strewn in the foreground.  It’s enough to take your breath, and I was breathless for the duration. June is summer in Homer and daylight is an ongoing happening. Except for 4 teensy hours of twilight, every other hour is available for those endless to die for photo ops. Sleep was always the very last option as my eyes were greedy to feast continually.

 

 
  

Out on the spit, a 4 mile strip of rock, silt and sand remain from the receding glacier, are shops and restaurants and lots of fishing boats. As you drive, walk or bike along this strip you might see natural driftwood sculpture on the beach, puffins swimming, a humpback spouting in the distance, or some friendly folks riding horses along the shore.

 

In the town of Homer, you might think you were placed in a time capsule- back about 15 years or more when it was still possible to talk your way out of a ticket and you could smoke a cigarette with a minimal stir. Woven through the tapestry of Homer are threads of the hippie flower child lifestyle apparent in the dress and the art, bright and free- All the very unique shops are decorated with a joie de vive.    There is a sense of living a freer lifestyle where there is less judgment about the “shell” of how you look or what you do or don’t do.

 

Very nearby is Clark National Park where the black and grizzly bear live naturally. It is possible to go with a guide and drive around tracking them. I learned what their tracks and scat look like right off the bat. When we spotted a few we’d stop and kept a distance of at least 100ft- but for the most part they were undisturbed by our presence and it was thrilling to see them grazing amidst the wildflowers so peacefully.  Even so, as I crept closer very slowly to get the most out of my zoom lens the news I’d heard that morning kept reverberating- “woman mauled by bear two days earlier”.

 


Snagging is a term for a fishing technique where they use a large hook by hand to snag and catch salmon.  They are spawned in Halibut Lagoon with the intention that in five years they will return to that exact place. When they do, they swim round and round looking for a stream that doesn’t exist, the fisherman plan to be there when the tide is just right. There are only 2-3 hours during 2 days that the opportunity is perfect to snag some of the biggest best fish God ever made. There is a quota which is adhered to for the most part. It seems a little local color can be found in the resentment that many of the folks in Homer have toward the Russian Orthodox and their big Russian fishing boats. They live a family lifestyle where everyone participates in the work of fishing and they live and dress and even speak according to the old tradition. They kind of reminded me of the Amish people, and so I was very surprised to hear that they flagrantly disregard the fishing quotas; and often they will line all their boats to barricade others from the “snagging party”.   I had the opportunity to be an eye witness this event at 4am when the light was spectacular as it played in the lagoon and later that evening we dined on grilled salmon, juicy on the inside crispy on the outside, just the way I like it.

 

Life seems grand, surrounded by so much natural beauty, but I doubt that I’m the type that could live there. Yes there are an abundance of available men, but there is a reason for that. It’s cold and dark in the winter and it’s a hard life unless you’re independently wealthy. Most are wrapped up in the oil industry working in the refineries and pipelines. It takes a super rugged individualist to survive the winters working from the land.  The cost of living in paradise is higher than the eagle flies. I’m talking about Super Big Macs for $15

 

But talking about a perfect vacation- I can’t really imagine anything better.

 

 
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