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?”
Janine Huldie says
Wow to the landscape and so much more here! Seriously, not what I’d ever think when I think Alaska in all honesty. And now I can’t wait for the next morning and more surprises still! 🙂
I know!! I had no idea what to think but I barely… thought at all. The reality fills up every fantasy I ever had and fleshes it out like crazy!!
Alaska is breathing, I cannot wait to visit one day soon. Wow that is one huge fish and I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing a real live Moose.
Yes, the halibut is HUGE! Wide range. I ate so much of it there!
Your pictures are so beautiful, and it sounds like you guys had such an amazing time! I’m not even an outdoorsy person, and I want to go on these adventures 🙂
I think there’s an adventure of every size in Alaska – and one for anyone!!
Ginny Marie says
Homer is so much fun! We watched them clean halibut, too. I don’t remember the name of the place we stayed, but it was at the top of a bluff that lead down to the beach, which had black sand! The girls could have played there for hours! I was looking back at my blog posts, and I didn’t really blog much about our trip. It was already 4 years ago, which is hard to believe! You’ll be so happy that you’re writing all of this down!
There were gorgeous places to stay there – and so many sold out. I would love to hear where you went!
And you’re right – I am glad I made notes because I already forgot so many details about what I did and in what order.
You’ve made me fall in love with Alaska. I’m going to tell my husband I want to go!
I sort of wish I lived where you do because it wouldn’t be the huge trip it is from here!
So here is the truth. I have never wanted to go to Alaska. My (likely) future son-in-law is from Alaska, but I’ve never been interested. But these shots are so stunning I’m starting to rethink myself. I really dislike cold weather, but maybe there is a window when I can go and not freeze. That shot with the mountain in the distance is just spectacular.
That makes me so happy!! I hope you do!
If you go in June or July, it will be warm. And also, if you go more inland, they actually get heat. Fairbanks is around 80 in the summer just like here!
Courtney Sperlazza says
Looks so backcountry! Did you use a long range lens for the moose, or were you that close?
I had rented a 100-400mm, luckily! Otherwise it would have been too close for comfort!
Kenya G. Johnson says
I have small plane phobia because of Aaliyah. The snow capped mountain is so beautiful. I can’t imagine standing there and taking it all in. I can’t wait for you to get to the rain pants story.
Wow, I still think about Aaliyah too! Even on big planes, I wonder if there are too many suitcases on them? Terrible!
Sadly, the rain pants story doesn’t turn out the way we had hoped, but alas, we still used them for stuff!
I love Bass Pro shops! Ours here is 2 stories of pure wonder! I do not own rain pants, it hardly rains here, but maybe one should have them just in case….That Jim’s sign is hilarious, panties!! 🙂
I think we have one in New England. Maybe in Maine? I’ve heard it’s awesome!!
Your photos are just so amazing!
I hate planes too. All planes. Small ones would especially scare me.
I still have to fight that fear! My friend has a small plane and let me sit in it, but I haven’t had the guts to actually leave the hangar?
The Mad Mommy says
More vicarious living! Alaska is like a dream!! Those moose, that bear! It’s all too awesome!
Echo, it’s insane. Like.. I want to go back and take you there.
That fish is Huge!!! It would be awesome to actually see a fish that big. The local fresh water fish that we have here are really small compared to this fish.
The range of halibut sizing is insane. They can be so tiny to so huge! Same kind of fish.
Bev Feldman @ Linkouture says
Those photos of the snowy mountain peeking through the clouds….wow! I keep seeing saying it, but it’s true…it’s like a dream!
And would you know I have held (and used a gun) at my Jewish overnight camp of all places? We got to shoot at targets with rifles. It was pretty fun, though I wasn’t particularly good at it.
That’s awesome! There’s something to be said about learning aim and protection. The other day a policeman walked by me really close to me and I said, “That’s the closest I’ve ever been to a gun!”
Claudia Willison| ImagesByCW says
The trip of a lifetime. Wow. Maybe you need to email me your itinerary, I think Alaska is slowly but surely making it to my bucket list of must-see-destinations.
BTW – I’d be very, very afraid of the small plane, too. And Grizzlys, of course.
I totally will email it! And once I finish the series, I’ll probably do a breakdown of where we went and for how long.
Lisa Thomson says
Wow, another fantastic Alaska installment 🙂 You really pushed your personal limits and boundaries on this trip and sounds like it was incredible. Also, so very romantic!! Lovely photos, Tamara!
Thank you!! I can’t wait to go back because I want to push myself a lot more!
You are capturing this land so beautifully. I almost feel like I don’t have to go now! Almost. It’s still a dream. But… I did see a MOOSE!!! Hell yeah and a Moose With Attitude he was. You saw my own Facebook, but honestly nothing can prepare you for a 1000 pound animal actually jumping down onto the highway in front of your van from a rock outcropping. And then SAUNTERING slowly by, into the the other lane, while the oncoming transport truck is freakin fishtailing to a stop… but does this moose panic? No cause he chill like dat. Sauntered. And still I got no photo to prove it. He was beautiful. I named him Cool Jack Saunters 🙂
I couldn’t believe your moose story! What a dream! Or a nightmare? A both?
I literally said “Super Hero Landing” as he hit the road. LOL
Oh my gosh Tamara, this was truly the THE trip of a LIFETIME!! Wow wow wow…
I’m EXACTLY like you. After I do something majorly stressful, I need serious decompression time to recover… I cannot IMAGINE doing all that you did!
What is “Hard core Alaskan gifts”? Ahem.
What was that statue? Who was that supposed to be? Looked interesting…
haha, Chris – I NEVER found out.. I’ll have to Google it now.
As for the statue, I think it was a Seafarers Memorial statue.
I love these vignettes from Alaska. Thanks for showing us the local culture, the landscape and outtakes from your vacation. Lovely!
Of course! And I’m not even done.. I can’t believe it’s taking this long!
i have heard really great things about homer! can’t wait to see the grizzly bears. oh, and love the la bamba comment. haha! I’m scared of planes to begin with. small planes…I’m praying the whole time!
At least you’ve actually been in one! I’m still too scared..
I am late to the party again. But I brought popcorn. For the moose. (Mooses? Meese?)
What a lovely trip. And all I can keep thinking is could you see Russia? And did you get some panties? Because I’ll bet Alaskan panties are special if they have their own sign.
I’m late to the party to reply to comments, so we’re square.
I really wish I had Alaskan panties, but alas, I missed that chance of a lifetime!