I had this thought in my head for awhile: We needed to take a spring trip somewhere in Alaska before we kick it into high gear for the summer. Our neighbors Sarah & Matt often take a springtime trip to Homer with the same purpose, but also because they are self-proclaimed bird nerds. During this time of year, more than 100,000 birds use the Homer area as their migration feeding and resting pitstop on their last leg of their journey north from Hawaii and Central and South America.
So I prodded Sarah & Matt, and persuaded Justin, and off we all went on the Spring 2022 Neighborhood Getaway to Homer the first week in May.
Southcentral Alaska is a playground for fishing and boating pursuits, as the Kenai Peninsula juts out into the Gulf of Alaska south of Anchorage. There are a number of small communities dotted along the peninsula via different routes. Justin & I explored Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park in the fall of 2021, which is on the eastern side of the peninsula. Homer is located on the western side. This area has some of the largest tides in the world, with a 15-foot difference between high and low tide!
One of Homer’s calling card is the magnificent views of Kachemak Bay across the Cook Inlet of three active volcanoes: Redoubt, Iliana and Augustine. We camped along a beach on the “Homer Spit,” a 4.5-mile narrow bar of gravel where the land ends and the sea begins with the most unobstructed vistas. I call it a beach, but it’s not a beach like you all are thinking. There was certainly no sun bathing!
Did I mention Sarah & Matt brought their cat, Kitty McMeow?
We saw more eagles than we could count (thankfully Kitty McMeow didn’t get kidnapped), spotted a handful of sandhill cranes, greater yellowlegs, loons, and maybe some kittiwakes. Sarah & Matt claim that ID-ing birds gets easier, but I’m still working on mastering wildflowers, and they don’t move like birds do!
The weather wasn’t ideal for hanging outside, but we discovered a few indoor activities that were top-notch. First, we went to The Homer Bookstore to seek out a very special book they stocked … And what was even better: one of the owners was currently reading it!
Then we went to Sweetgale Meadworks & Cider House for a tasting. The mead (and cider) were not only delicious, but the owner has such a cool story. He’s from the area, but lived overseas for a long time and made wine there. When he and his family returned to Homer, he assumed his wine-making days were over since we can’t grow grapes here, but experimented with other local fruit and honey … Voila! Mead and cider!
Surrounding Kachemak Bay is home to Alaska’s first state park. Kachemak means “high cliffs on the water” in Russian (in case you didn’t know, Russia sold Alaska to the US in 1867). We took a water taxi through Mako’s to do a horseshoe hike from Glacier Spit to Saddle, which would take us to Grewingk Glacier, the largest in the area. As with all glaciers, Grewingk is receding, but the crazier part about this area is that in 1964, there was an earthquake that triggered a landslide into Grewingk Lake that triggered a tsunami. The wave of water pushed up hundreds of feet into the air, and wiped out an entire forest of trees. The 6-mile hike was awesome, and well worth it. And since it was pre-season, we saw 0 people!
I’m so glad we checked another Alaska destination off our long list, and BEFORE the tourists take over to boot!