How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part XIII: Seward

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 Part XI and Part XII. Where did we leave off last? Days were getting a little slower, but no less interesting. What follows now is a brief dark period – both in weather and in spirits – but it’s no less interesting. For awhile now I’ve wondered how to write the next 2-3 days, but I think the chronological truth is still straight from a story book.

Bear with me. Get it? Bear??

My bear photos from many chapters ago are the only ones you’ll see, I’m afraid to say. We woke up after our second night in Homer and the bear expedition was canceled yet again. We didn’t have another day to waste and wander so after another breakfast at Fresh Sourdough Express, we left Homer for Seward. Not to give us a casual goodbye, we saw a giant moose in a field on our way out of town. We also stopped at an Alaskan gift store to see a giant moose head. How could you not?

Although the live ones are sooooo much better.

The road from Homer to Seward was wet and bear-expedition-canceled-disappointed. I probably dozed off for some of it. I remember snacks and a weird gas station with terrible anti-Obama pictures plastered on every square inch of a wall. The guy behind the counter looked gruff and murderous but he was actually warm and friendly. In Moose Pass, Alaska, we got delicious breve lattes. That means lattes made with cream instead of milk. And they had huckleberry flavored! We called a few places to book a glacier cruise out of Seward and the man on the phone started talking about orcas and chocolate chip cookies.

These are my people, I tell ya!

We arrived in Seward and first did some moose-viewing drives that the ladies in Moose Pass had told us about. We didn’t see any moose, nor in Moose Pass, but we definitely saw fresh bear prints. The air was wild and wet and somehow welcoming too.

We found a place at the Alaskan Wish Lodging & Art Studio which was pretty gorgeous actually. Innkeeper Carol had snacks, a big fat cat, beautiful and clean rooms (with a wall fireplace), and examples of her metal Alaskan art. She told us to hit the Alaska Shop (which her sister ran) as well as Thorn’s Showcase Lounge for the “Bucket o’ Butt” – which was breaded (but I don’t think fried) halibut. We also hit Once in a Blue Moose and I got two Alaska shirts. In the Alaska shop, we picked out a piece of art and she customized it for us to have a moose and a wolf, just like our wedding theme. Best souvenir ever.

Sorry for crappy phone photo of brilliant metal and glass art.

Dinner at Thorn’s was fun! The food was exquisite but I was a little too excitable to eat much. I hate when that happens. A nice couple from New Jersey sat next to us. They were touring Alaska before moving from Jersey to Florida. They had gone on a glacier cruise earlier that day, and with the rough weather, they told us that half the boat got seasick. The woman even told us she had puked on herself. Not good for a vomit phobic to hear at dinner, the night before her own cruise!

We wandered downtown after dinner to check out the harbor and see the local spots:

Can you guess which one I wrote?

When the sun was close to setting, we decided to hike the Exit Glacier. I didn’t think we’d make it but we kept on going. We didn’t make it up to the Harding Ice Field, where there are surely Ice Giants and Ice Spiders, but maybe one day?

Welcome to Mordor.

All in all, not a great day for bear expeditions or photos, but I’m glad I took a few phone pictures to give you a feel. Alaska is still the most fascinating place I know, and this is only the smallest fraction of it. Stay tuned.

Next up – Glacier Cruise. Will we or won’t we?

See ya SOON!

Part XIV

How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part XII: Homer Rain

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.

After seeing some serious nature documentary moose action, I slept the sleep of someone about to face a small plane phobia.

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.

Now that’s why I needed them from Bass Pro! Now I knew!

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.

Finally, I could eat. I was hungry! And disappointed/relieved at the same time.

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 clear in Homer, because it’s protected by the mountains, so we didn’t experience much rain.

We saw seagulls and starfish galore! Live ones! Starfish, that is. I’m not sure I’d ever seen them before.

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.

Cassidy chased some seagulls.

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..

..because this is what you see on casual drives in Homer.

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.

In Alaska! In the middle of nowhere, off of Homer, Alaska. Nuttiest place on earth. So we time traveled.

And had more fun with iPhone panorama shots magic.

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.

We saw another bunch of moose, and one a mere silouhette against a darkening sky.

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.

See ya SOON!

Part XIII