If you’re just tuning in to our Alaska adventures, here are the links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X and Part XI. Where did we leave off last? After the two longest and fullest days known to mankind, we made a whole day of driving to Homer, Alaska. There, I was “surprised” by a reservation to fly in a small plane to an island of brown bears, hike and photograph bears for hours, potentially get stuck there overnight, and then fly back to Homer.
I woke up and looked out the cabin to see swans on the water. Cassidy went to get a breakfast recommendation and went to the nearby Fresh Sourdough Express for breakfast sandwiches and their famous caramel rolls. (like cinnamon rolls) I couldn’t understand how he could eat at a scary time like this, but I decided to wait until I “safely” arrived at the island of bears. Honestly, I don’t know if I was more afraid of imminent death or airsickness. I’d never been in a small plane! Since I really don’t get motion sickness, except in highly specific and emotion-attached events, I was more afraid one of the other six scheduled passengers would. I was just scared all around, but determined. I got up, showered, and dressed in my rain pants.
Until Cassidy came back from breakfast and told me the flight was canceled because of bad weather. It was pretty overcast in Homer, but it all had to do with what was going on around the island. The expedition was rescheduled for the next day.
So now we had a whole day in Homer with nothing to do! He took me back to Fresh Sourdough Express where I could sit and have breakfast and hear about all the things to do that day. We went back to the Spit to check in with the fishing charters – a little dream of Cassidy’s – but they also talked about rough waters. A really awesome lady at one of the shops drew us a map of cool places to see and scenic drives to take. We then parked at the end of the Spit and walked to the water to investigate.
It was otherwordly. That’s sort of the only word I can use to describe Alaska. Is that even a word? It is now. It was surreal and dark and euphoric and gloomy and hopeful and sad and wild and disappointing all at once. I may have been projecting my own mood, though. I tend to do that sometimes. I thought I’d fall in love with Homer and it had all the makings for every dream I’ve ever had, but there was something missing too. I think I needed to see it in the full sun. I needed to feel it. I needed to see myself in the full sun. I needed to feel it. And that’s definitely a metaphor, because it had been sunny the day before.
There’s probably a metaphor in there too. One of them had a broken wing and couldn’t fly away from the others and it made us both have sad faces. I still think about it, actually. I sort of hope it found a way to soar off into the distance.
Then we ducked into shops to find souvenirs for the kids. It was drizzling a bit and we thought about catching a water taxi somewhere. I honestly didn’t even know what a water taxi was until that day. It’s not affordable for regular use! We ducked into the most amazing seafood place of all time and had some chowder. Before leaving town for one of the adventures the lady at the fishing boat charter company had drawn for us, Cassidy went into an Alaskan art gallery. We found a moose antler chew for Athena. The shopkeeper asked where we were from and I decided to tell her my specific city – because you never know in Alaska – and her jaw dropped. It turns out that her daughter lives in Northampton, goes to the same places I go, and even worked for my friend. It’s WEIRD. We were at the edge of the earth and we found a mutual friend. Only in Alaska.
It got weirder. Because.. Alaska. We tooled around on a long drive and found a Russian village off the grid, where women get married at 14! That’s not where it gets weird, by the way. I’m not a judgemental sort. Especially not in Alaska..
We were driving back to Homer to stay another night at our Floatplane Lodge, when Cassidy slammed on the brakes. I had been dozing but I picked my head up and thought, “Moose???” It wasn’t a moose. It was.. a freaking.. TARDIS.
Then it gets weird again. We went back to town for dinner, after sadly going to a much recommended bakery and finding it closed, and walked into Fat Olives Restaurant. I’ll have to refresh a story from a few days earlier in Anchorage. While waiting for breakfast in a very crowded place in Anchorage on our first morning of our trip, we got to chatting with a mother and daughter from Pennsylvania and Utah, respectively. It was the mother’s life dream to go to Alaska so her kids got the trip for her as a gift for Christmas. We high-fived life dreams. Here, 4-5 hours away in Homer, and 4-5 days into our trip, we were finishing dinner at Fat Olives Restaurant and I turned around and saw them come into our restaurant! And I had FaceTimed the kids earlier and had been feeling a bit disoriented and…far far away. The sense of everything connected is strong here.
After our delicious dinner, we went back into the moosey parts and hiked a bit. We were waiting for dusk – when moose are most active. It’s not the best time to get moose pictures, but the images live on in your mind, and that’s good too.
Next up – I have to do that thing again – where I hit the hot tub, hit the bed, and find a way to cope with sleeping and waking up to face a phobia. Will it or will it not? And what’s next for our journey? Seward, Alaska.. a place of oddities and magic.