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, and Part X. Where did we leave off last? After the longest day in existence, we had the second longest day in existence. It included a 2.5 hour hike, whales, The Alaska Conservation Center, a helicopter ride to dog sled on a glacier, dinner on the side of a mountain, and a big bull moose in the wild. There was also an exquisite sunset and three more moose.
We started with breakfast at the same place as Day 2 – Bear Mountain Grill. It was a weekend day so it was a brunch buffet instead of ordering off the menu. It was crowded and again we spread out our maps and books and looked at the long road ahead to Homer. We had a lodge booked that Cassidy said was called Homer Floatplane Lodge and honestly, nothing sunk in for me from the name of the place. I just figured it was special. On water. In Alaska. What more could you want in life?
We packed up from our two nights in the Eagle River cabin and decided to hit Kincaid Park again on our way out of Anchorage before leaving for Homer. Homer’s about a 4-5 hour trip, without stops. We saw a female moose right in the park entrance!
We stopped on the way out of the city at a Bass Pro Shop because Cassidy had mentioned that I needed rain pants. The store was the stuff of absolute dreams. Big spoiler here – he knew why I might need rain pants before I did. That’s a story for another day, though. (soon) Back to Bass Pro – flannel shirts! Chocolate! Taxidermy animals looking alive! Rain pants too! I had soooo much fun in that store. I was pretty much giddy in it, although I did go through the camping and hunting aisles in complete bewilderment. So rain pants, flannel shirts, some chocolates, a stuffed wolf, and we were off to Homer!
The 4-5 hour drive is scenic, and when you make frequent stops, you can easily turn this trip into an all-day event. It’s worth it, though. We had a ton of snacks, back from home (Walmart) and even some picked up in Alaska, and we had tons of water. I thought I would have taken more photos, but there’s just so much to see and dream. Can you imagine a five+ hour road trip in Alaska with someone you love? I barely can. On the ride, you can look for moose, of course, and whales, Dall sheep, mountain goats, bears, beautiful mountains, and volcano views across Cook Inlet. What else can you really say about this?
We drove through quiet towns, past rivers, and through county fairs. We drove through Cooper Landing and Anchor Point. We found an antlers shop in Soldotna. I really wanted to take moose antlers home, but they’re pricey. Maybe I’ll find my own.
Finally, we arrived in Homer. We could see the iconic Homer Spit, Kachmak Bay, and surrounding mountains. We had our hotel booked for one night, so we headed straight to Homer Floatplane Lodge. Everything went smooth with check-in but I couldn’t stop looking at pictures of brown bears all over the lodge office. I asked about them and the girl checking us in (oh man, what’s her name??) said, “Well you’ll find out tomorrow because you’re booked on our all-day trip.” What? She must have done a mic drop because I was stunned and speechless. I NEVER am stunned and speechless. I.. was going on a small plane (for an HOUR!) to an island of bears, where I’d hike for HOURS, photograph bears, potentially get stuck on the island of bears should bad weather come, and then return on a small plane (for an HOUR!). I was excited and scared out of my mind.
I couldn’t shake the overwhelming feelings but we settled into our room and then decided to explore the tiny fishing village right at the edge of Alaska, and at the edge of the world really. Homer Spit is a place to go when you visit Alaska.
It was towards the end of the day so the boats’ catches were coming in and being cleaned/cooked right there. We ate dinner at Captain Pattie’s, which is supposedly the best seafood in Alaska. I got salmon! We talked to the manager at the end and as we were talking to her, FREAKING OTTERS were swimming by outside. Then the owner herself came to greet us and show us rooms we could rent the next night, right off the fish houses! Right there on the water! A 360 degree view of.. everything.
Then it was time to look for moose. We went on some back roads we had seen earlier that day, and words can’t describe how moosey it looked, and then came to be. I don’t have a lot of photos of this time because dusk to sunset is not about great photography. Well it CAN be, but sometimes it’s fully about the experience. Like finding this clearing/protected refuge area:
Between that place and the roads that followed, things were intense. My Facebook status that night: “Just saw some serious nature channel footage. A viewing deck set against a field of alpine trees with two inviting benches. A lone cow moose eats in the field while a baby moose frolics on the other side, followed by his unsure mother. The first moose decides to socialize and the two adult moose make loud noises at each other, with ears held back, and the mother moose loudly chases the first moose into the woods while the baby looks on like, “WTF.” Thrilling. Binoculars made it seem like they were mad at us and not each other. I still have chills! Then we saw four other moose, and one was a mere silhouette against a twilight sky.”
The night was dark and cold and we followed it up by going in the lodge’s hot tub on the deck. An outdoors hot tub on a cold night in Alaska, under stars, ducks, float planes, and mysterious sights and sounds, is like no other experience.
Coming up..well, THIS:
My Facebook status that night: “I have anxiety ya know? So when I do something big I need a few days or…years…to decompress and rest. So he had me climb a glacier to certain death and that was fine. Then the next day, after four hours of sleep, I said yes to a helicopter ride and glacier of dog sledding. Thought I’d rest for a year? Then, surprise!! Tomorrow I’m going on a small plane for an hour and I’m phobic of small planes because of La Bamba and oh, it’s to an island to go grizzly bear viewing and hiking for five hours. And then another small plane ride? When do I rest and stay alive?”