July 30, 2015

Strolling around Soldatna, AK and off to Homer, AK

By: Rob Lowe

Featured Picture

Sometimes the wonder of Alaska sneaks up on you. I was out for my morning walk with our dog Cassi while in Soldatna and looked down a cross street. In the morning light  (7:30am) I saw this beautiful mountain view down a side street with ordinary houses on either side, and cars filled with people on their way to work. No Big Deal – to them. I took Cassi home and went back to absorb this majestic view.

As I looked at it, I saw a face in the glacier. Can you see it? A little sneering look in "his’ mouth don’t you think? Another wonder of creation that caught me yet I am sure it is lost on most of the residents. Another item that I saw that I did not take a picture of was a metal protective cage around a young tree planted in the boulevard of the street beside a driveway. Nothing out of the ordinary you say, until you recognize that the screen is 8 feet high and about three feet in diameter and has a three foot marker reflector attached to the top of the driveway side of the cage.  My logical mind concluded that this cage kept the deer and wild animals from eating the foliage in the winter and driveway marker was just that, an indication of where the driveway is in the winter snow.

As we drove to Homer we stopped in a rest area for lunch and saw three of the ‘Four Sleeping Giants’ as we looked out our window. The second slide shows a board erected a few years ago. Mount Redoubt (Slide 3) is the same one we photographed in Kenai and it has erupted again since the sign was erected (on March 23, 2009). Mount Iliamna is shown in Slide 4. I met people at a turn out in Homer where all four volcanoes were visible and they said they had to cover all of their computers and electronic equipment to protect them from the volcanic ash after the eruption. In addition, one man said he replaced his car’s air filters (engine and cabin) every day as was recommended while the ash was in the air. We toured a wonderful museum in Homer later that had samples of the ash from 4 eruptions and when examined under a microscope it was unbelievable how rough looking the "volcanic ash” was. It is no wonder that they shut down airports after one of these mountains erupts. Google the "Ring of Fire” to learn the story of these volcanoes that stretch from New Zealand to Asia to Alaska and then to the coastal regions of North and South America.

The Homer Spit where we spent the end of last week is the end of the Alaska Road network on the southwestern side of the state. From here you take a ferry to get around. The Spit is formed from Glacier residue carried down off neighbouring mountains and it is still a moving mass. Each spring the spit is a different, although similar, shape. We noticed the now familiar glacial "grit” in the campground that seems to permeate everywhere. Slide 5 was taken high up on a mountain slope overlooking the spit and you can see the glacial mountains on the other side of the bay. We were camped in the large area on the left side. There is a marina there and hundreds of boaters lined up to launch their boat to fish for salmon in this area as well. Slide 6 shows another close up of the RVs, boats, truck campers and trailers in campgrounds on the Spit.

As we were driving by a communication tower on the Spit we saw this Eagle carefully searching for prey. As we left the next day we saw an eagle pair and on another tower and this eagle was flying by his tower with a large fish (salmon) in his claws. It was an impressive sight of this Eagle with its almost 1.8m (6 foot) wide wing span carrying a large fish in its talons. No time for pictures while driving.

As I mentioned in previous messages, flowers are a focus of a lot of activity in Alaska. We saw a news article on the budding peony business growing in Anchorage and given the long days and the climate, these flowers grow large and very large. These businesses are becoming a worldwide source for these flowers, so we heard. Here in Homer we see some unusual "flower pots” – boots of various sizes. Anything to get the tourist to stop by the store. Inside we saw this shirt with the caption shown in Slide 9. You have to laugh at the humor of it and also understand the immense size of the State of Alaska.

We visited two outstanding attractions in Homer. The first was the Oceans and Islands Visitor Center. They have some phenomenal dioramas that put you in the center of some amazing re-creations. One you walked into a huge cave-like structure that was part of a mountain. Overhead and on all sides were various birds on rock outcroppings complete with realistic bird droppings, sounds and video presentations of flying birds overhead, beside and below you (that’s right). You actually think the birds are flying just beside your legs and you instinctively jump so they miss you!  An incredible presentation of what you would see on nearby mountains. Others had bears, and wildlife that came alive in front of you. They used re-creations combined with audiovisual effects to put you in the center.

The second was the Pratt Museum which I’ll cover in the next message.

We hope you are enjoying these.


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