Homer is a popular spot on the Kenai Peninsula, and we had heard very good things about it. But frankly we did not know very much and had no specific plans prior to arriving there. But we did know we wanted to try to stay on the Homer spit. A long skinny peninsula where the town’s boat harbor and many tourist activities are centered.
We drove over to Homer on the Sterling Highway, a beautiful road that we had driven earlier in our travels. The Kenai River, super popular for fishing, runs alongside part of the road. There are a number of towns along the way, including Ninilchik, where we made a brief stop at the Transfiguration of our Lord Church, a Russian Orthodox church founded in 1846. The church and its cemetery are quite picturesque and are one of many examples of Russia’s historical influence on Alaska.
Alaska Day driving day 5 recap:
Road Name: Seward Highway (a short section) to Sterling Highway
Road Type: 2-lane
Road Conditions: Seward Highway is generally good, Sterling Highway is good but quite narrow for a bit after Cooper Landing, including a mercifully not too long windy section with no shoulder and a guardrail on both sides where a motorhome like ours barely fit with another large vehicle on the oncoming lane.
Miles Today: 173
Driving Time: 4:15
Total Miles in Alaska: 1228
Total Miles since entering Canada: 3222
The road ends at Homer. Beyond Homer lies more of the roadless Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island and the Aleutian Archipelago. Alaska is both our westernmost and easternmost state. How can that be? The end of the Aleutian chain lies over the international dateline. And just north of Homer on the Sterling Highway is the westernmost section of paved road in the entire USA.
After we settled in, we walked the beach in front of our campsite with Angel. We absolutely loved it there, with beautiful views of the inlet, mountains and more. Read my review of the campground here.
The views on this side of the spit, Cook Inlet, as well as the opposite side, Kachemak Bay were lovely.
The spit is a long, narrow bar of gravel that juts out into Kachemak Bay and has a major dock facility. The small boat harbor area has lots of shops, galleries, restaurants, hotels, and tour operators and can get really hopping.
Back on the beach, we finally got to watch an actual sunset, as the days have started to get shorter sunset is now at a more reasonable 11 in the evening. And we continued to enjoy the views across the water.
We visited the small but engaging Pratt Museum. The museum’s exhibits and interactive displays focus on history, art and biology of the area, the culture of Kachemak Bay, fishing, a historic cabin, a small botanical garden and more. We also visited several art galleries and shops in town.
We bumped into our friends Jack and Karen when we arrived in Homer, and they joined us for dinner one evening. They are taking a different route than we are and gave us some good tips once again on some of the places they have already visited including Denali National Park. While we were walking the beach we discovered sea otters off shore and eagles on the beach. Beautiful!
Jack and Karen brought some halibut they caught back in Valdez and we enjoyed a delicious dinner. As Hector likes to say “you catch them and I’ll happily cook them”. We have really enjoyed bumping into them.
We also explored the Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center, a partnership between the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and Kachemak Bay Research Reserve. The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge is the largest seabird refuge in the world, stretching from Cape Lisbune on the Chukchi Sea to the tip of the Alteutian Islands in the West and Forrester Island in the Southern Alaska Panhandle region in the east, encompassing the Aleutian Islands, Pribilofs, Chiswell Islands and more, a total of 4.9 million acres.
The center has exhibits and displays about the seabirds, marine mammals and other wildlife that inhabit its more than 2,500 islands, rocks, spires and coastal headlands, as well as research being done within its boundaries. Hector was so immersed in the displays and exhibits that we have no photos. But the nature trail out back was a beautiful walk.
There are fabulous oysters in Homer, although they are quite pricy in the restaurants. So since Hector is an expert shucker, we bought some to take home and sampled some beer next door at the Homer Brewing Company.
On the way back, we visited an eagles’ nest that is well-known around the town. There is an eaglet, and mama and papa are seen often. We visited a few times, and saw the eaglet and one adult (mama?) nearby.
The next day we spotted some eagles on a sand bar in the bay. Hector headed off after them and tried to wait them out and see them fly but was ultimately thwarted in his attempt to get the amazing picture and in the process, also made us really late for another dinner with Dan and Amanda.
Dan and Amanda were pretty easygoing about it and brought some of their catch – halibut and salmon and we had a community dinner. Another fun evening with friends, and another late night.
On our last night in Homer it was raining when we got home but we spotted several eagles on the beach, two that were pretty close to Island Girl. Hector headed out with his and the camera’s raincoats and was gone a pretty long time, following the two eagles from the beach to the dunes.