Current News – We left our friend’s in Phoenix and took a brief pause to enjoy Joshua Tree NP for a day on our route to Vista (north of San Diego), here we caught up with friends we first met in Montana (they winter in Vista). Our stay with them was all too brief as our visa was running out and we just scraped across the border on the day it expired. We have made it to Mexico and are currently enjoying a day off at Mulege in Baja California Sur.
Meanwhile in the blog world we are still in Alaska heading for Homer.
Blog 294 Nililchik 17th July 2013
Leaving Seward we got some good reflective views in Tern lake as we made our way towards Homer on the other side of the Kenai peninsula.
We also passed Ninilchik an old Russian village and stopped a while. Russian colonists moved here from Kodiak island in 1847 before the USA purchased Alaska in 1867. After the change of ownership some returned to Russia but many stayed and became American citizens. One of the headstones in the churchyard was an ex Russian citizen who later served as a U.S marine.
Many of the homes in the old village were constructed in the traditional Russian style with steep pitched roofs and large overhangs.
Evidence of its former days were strewn around, it was primarily a hunting and fishing village and to some extent it still is but now it is also a tourist attraction. There are still quite a few Russian influenced settlements in Alaska to this day.
The Russian Orthodox Church was constructed in 1901 complete with onion domes.
The Russian crosses have a distinctive lower slanted bar, we were curious as to the reason for this. During research for this blog we discovered that its original purpose was a practical but gruesome one. When someone was crucified there was always a bottom footrest on the cross as nails could not hold the weight of a body alone. The cruel death of a crucifixion was not bought about by blood loss but by lack of oxygen when exhausted the man could no longer stand straight on the footrest, then the body sagged and air could no longer be drawn into the lungs.
It is also believed that in the final moments before Jesus died his body spasmed and the footrest was kicked out of place. There are also two versions of the symbolism of the slanted bar, one says the footrest points up toward heaven on Christs right side and down to Hades on his left. The other version says that the footrest slants upward toward penitent thief St Dismas, who was crucified on Jesus’ right, and downward toward impenitent thief Gestas who was on his left. In Greek and some other Orthodox Churches, the footrest is also there but remains straight. The short extra top cross bar represents the sign nailed to Christ’s Cross which read This is the King of the Jews or Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews depending on which gospel you take it from.
There are still Russian descendents living in the village, some of the graveyard was very overgrown but a lot of it was obviously still lovingly cared for. It was very atmospheric.
Another lookout showed this offshore oil rig softened by the fireweed in the foreground.
Cloud had settled over the bay as we approached Homer so our view was a little limited.
Arriving in Homer we had some things to check online so our first stop was to find the library.
Doris our friendly GPS only knew the old location so after little while and few turnarounds we were there. While Kev was busy sorting out some things Karen used the library computers to check emails, on our website there was this message. Keep in mind we had only been in town 20 minutes, this is was a new record !
Hello and welcome to Homer.
Passed you on the road up North (Prudhoe Bay) last week. Now see you here in Homer.
Got lots free camping area, out East End road …. and beverage or two to share.
Also, bike maintenance facilities for you, if you need tire tools, air compressor, oil drainage etc.
Stop by shop. (you ALMOST made it here but hung a U-turn whilst deploying the paper MAP).
Hope to catch up with you guys, share a few tall tales.
With an offer like that how could we refuse, we ensured we left the library before business closing time and high tailed it back to Fullpower, Deans shop. It turned our Dean got our website from a photo his wife took and zoomed in on our website sticker. Dean and his wife Becky were super nice people and we began what was to be a great stay in Homer.
Karen instantly made friends with their rottweiler as she had owned one before. We really enjoyed Dean and Becky’s company on numerous occasions, one time they invited us down to their “beach” where it was still cool enough at night to enjoy a fire and watch the sunset, this was a novelty as it hadn’t set for weeks previously.
Next up – More from beautiful Homer,as the stickers say it’s not the end of the road, it’s the beginning !
Thank you to the nice lady who runs a shop called Homer Sapiens on the spit, she rushed out and gave us there stickers when she saw us on the bike outside.