Okay, we didn’t see any baseball here… But we did discover that some of the things we’d looked forward to in Homer were “homeruns” and others… well… disappointments.
Though we’re not normally attracted to the places commonly called “attractions” — they always seem to disappoint us — I’d read that they’re worth it in Alaska because we’d get to see and experience things we wouldn’t otherwise. So I circled a few “attractions” in the Homer area and we made an effort to visit them.
One was the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. It did have some nice exhibits…
…but of course their outdoor trail was the big “attraction” for us, and we were happy to see this sign that clearly asks pet owners to keep their animals leashed:
A boardwalk led us out toward Cook Inlet…
…where the views were (can you guess?) amazing:
Unfortunately, we didn’t linger… on our way down the boardwalk a local woman came toward us with her dog running free (why do those dogs always know we’re allergic, and run toward us?!?) so we waited well off the trail for her to pass, then further down the boardwalk another woman and her dog (also off-leash) came toward us, so we cut our visit to this spot short. (To those of you with pets: even if it’s friendly, many people are allergic. Requests for your animal(s) to be on a leash are meant to keep people like us safe. Please leash your pets!) Disappointment number one.
The description we read of The Carl E. Wynn Nature Center said it had self-guided tours and a focus on “medicinal and Native uses of plants,” which is an interest of ours, so we made the drive up East Hill Road, stopping on the way to the Center to view the Spit from over the town:
The boardwalk to the visitors center for the nature center was inviting and promising, so we paid our $14 admission fee….
…but we had just begun our walk in the nature center when the sides of the trail crowded in on us and — lo and behold — cow parsnip threatened from all sides. Ikes! We’d learned about this noxious plant earlier this summer, and knew that a bright sunny day and this plant don’t mix. Contact with the plant on days when the UV rays are particularly strong can cause allergic reactions — painful sores and rashes on the skin. Many people don’t know about this (we sure didn’t before this summer) and — surprisingly — the two young women manning the visitors center weren’t aware of it either. Maybe they get so little sun here (usually) that it’s never been an issue, but we opted to stay safe, got off the trail, and went elsewhere for the afternoon. Disappointment number two.
Fortunately, the homeruns outnumbered the strike-outs (I’m writing this during the World Series, can you tell?). We found several excellent places to eat, like Maura’s Cafe, which had an amazing Tomato Basil Soup and a warm spinach salad that was out of this world. The bright, cozy interior was inviting and their pastries were fantastic:
Finn’s, on the Spit, delivered the pizza goods — the best flat-crust pizza we’ve had in a long time. And the views? Stunning, of course:
The farmers’ market was a treat….
…and the King Crab Scramble at Sourdough Express at the head of the Spit had huge hunks of crab meat (the real thing, not those imitation crab-flavored fish things you can buy at any grocery store). Served with tasty fried potatoes and their own homemade sourdough toast and homemade jam, the scramble was the best breakfast we’d had in Alaska:
Didn’t get a photo of the Cosmic Kitchen, but we found out why the lines there are always out the door. Their fajita-style fish tacos, so-named because they were served with grilled peppers and onions) were hard to beat.
Not only did Homer have great restaurants and a super farmers market, but shopping was excellent, including an independent bookstore — aptly named the Homer Bookstore — with the best selection of local and Alaska-oriented titles we’d seen the entire trip. Of course we left money in that cash register 🙂
Of course, best of all, were the sea otters and eagles, like this majestic scavenger:
The weather turned while we were in Homer. Clouds hovered and we heard late-night rain on the roof of the RV.
It would have been easy to stay longer, but August was on us, and we had more of Alaska to see before the weather turned even chillier. It was time to head north again, to begin our final leg of our Alaskan journey.