Friday, July 20, 2007
HOMER, ALASKA — Somehow we managed to sleep in past eight this morning, much to our surprise! But we didn’t have an elaborate agenda today, so that was fine. It was nice to see the sun shining and relatively little wind. Heat is not something we have suffered from at any point on this holiday, unless you count the lack of it from time to time. We expected some cool days, and even had the forethought to bring our three-season jackets with fleece shells and waterproof outer layer. They really came in handy when we went fishing near Whitehorse — and will do the same for our fishing trip tomorrow, but more on that later.
Our first stop before going to Homer Spit was the Visitor Centre for the good words of advice and information we have come to expect at such places along our way. Our information bag is so full of brochures, pamphlets, maps and flyers that I can barely lift it any more! And I’ve already gone through one cull of extraneous stuff. Now, when it’s time to pull in the slide of the trailer where it sits, I put it aside until the sliding is done so as not to tax the mechanism by its weight!
Inside the building, there was a huge circular work of art in the middle of the floor; a stained glass "carpet" depicting eagles, bears, pine trees, stars, mountains, lakes and rivers in vivid colours, swirling around a golden sun at the centre. It was just beautiful, and I couldn’t figure out why it was placed where people would actually walk on it. I could hardly take my eyes off it.
In addition to some good advice, the attendant sold us Halibut fishing derby tickets. The money goes toward civic activities, and we now run the chance of winning big bucks if we should happen to catch a great big fish tomorrow! We’d have to get a halibut weighing over 200 pounds, but someone has to do it so it may as well be one of us!
The first thing we wanted to do on the spit was ensure we were booked for tomorrow’s outing, since it had been done by telephone, so we found the Inlet Charters office and checked in. We’re in, and we now have our fishing licence for the day all set up as well. We’ll be on a boat of 14 fishers and three crew, and will be out from 6:30 in the morning till five. We’re going to pack a hearty lunch and some snacks for the day, and we’ll have our layers to keep us warm as well.
Homer is a centre for artists in the region, and the spit is where many of them display their works in quaint little huts and shacks along a boardwalk on either side of the road. Mixed in with these shops are all the sport fishing package providers and eateries of various kinds. We stopped at the Happy Face restaurant for fish and chips (which, as I predicted back in Skagway, were incapable of measuring up to the meal we had there!) and to warm up a bit. The breeze had picked up and it had clouded over, making it quite cool.
On the way back from the spit we ran a couple of errands and then went back to see what we could do with our trailer at the camp, since we needed to stay another night. While it appealed to us tremendously to stay in the same spot, that wasn’t an option, since a regular client was coming the third night and always reserved our space. We couldn’t move the trailer tomorrow because we’ll be gone from early till late. That meant moving it today, and after much hemming and hawing, they figured out where to put us. Karen at the counter produced a receipt with explanations and refunds and number changes written every which-way that she was sure would totally puzzle the owners. Running an RV camp must be so much fun! At least our new spot was a cinch to back into, much to Val’s relief.
We stopped by at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, as they had advertised a talk about the Second World War and the Aleutian Islands this afternoon. In 1943 the Japanese actually invaded some of these islands, bringing munitions and vehicles and thousands of troops, and taking some of the native people as prisoners of war. American and Canadian troops responded, in a chapter of history we knew very little about, and hoped to learn more. Unfortunately we were given wrong information, so we never did get to hear the talk, but we did have a look at some of the displays. The centre was beautifully decorated with marine themes, including an art deco design on the building’s doors that looked like loops of kelp framing the door and curling around the pull handles. Pillars inside were decorated with metal starfish, bubbles, seaweed and fish, and even the floor looked like a sea floor with shells and rocks embedded in it. Above our heads was a flock of paper seagulls suspended in flight by filament threads. It was lovely!