Blog 296 Homer part 2 July 22nd – 29th 2013


As promised our second installment from Homer Alaska.

Having viewed the spit from a distance at various times we thought it was high time we actually went and visited it. It stretches out 4.5 miles and features the longest road into ocean waters in the entire world about 10-15 minutes on the bike.

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We were so glad we were staying with Dean and Becky because as you can imagine if the weather was foul or windy the campsite would be no fun at all. The businesses all along the shore front jutted out on pilings into the ocean and there is a fishing harbour at the end. Shaun a GS rider came over for a chat whilst waiting for his friends to show.

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There are two thoughts on how the spit came to be, either that it was pushed into place by now-retreated glaciers or the tidal swell and currents of Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay built up the sand over millennia. A railroad track was laid in 1899 connecting the docks to the coal fields along Kachemak Bay. The resulting business led to the development of what eventually became Homer, Alaska. In the 1960s, several hippies, known as “spit rats”, traveled from all around to camp on the Homer Spit, many of them becoming successful commercial fishermen over time. In 1964 the Alaska earthquake killed most of the vegetation so now it is mostly gravel and sand.

Homer above everything else is a fishing town and most of the population seem to own a boat as the marina is heaving. The harbour has deep and shallow water docks and in the height of summer can accommodate 1500 commercial and pleasure boats.

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The early settlers the Aleuts were no strangers to fishing and developed a waterproof rain coat made from seal intestines stitched with grass. The grass wetlands near the start of the spit may well have been their fishing grounds.

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The Salty Dawg is a well-known spit landmark and constructed from several old historical Homer houses. The Salty Dawg originally was one of the first cabins built-in Homer in 1897 and moved to its current location after the earthquake, the distinctive lighthouse tower was built to cover a water tank. Inside its interior was daubed with many dollar bills and life buoys, the story goes the first dollar was attached by a visitor who wished to buy his friend a drink, explaining that his friend would be by later.

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Through Dean we met Steve the owner of this new Ural sidecar and he showed us this really nifty tool he fabricated, at the time Kev was really impressed with it but now neither of us can remember what it was for (ideas  please !).

The new Urals are imported in Bellingham, Washington where they are assembled by Ural USA.  Looking around it they have really upped their game in recent years with standard equipment like Brembo brakes and Mikini carbs and now even fuel injection. The standard of finish is really impressive too with lots of powdercoat and even stainless steel fittings.

Later on we met Walt on his older green Ural (who coincidentally was on his way to visit Steve). We first met Walt in Dawson Creek. Make sure you read what’s written on the paddle on the sidecar.

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Having been here a while we were now part of the extended family and thus were invited to a street BBQ here we met most of the Kilcher family (the cast of Alaska the wild frontier which we explained in the last blog) although we didn’t know it at the time. The salmon was cooked on the BBQ and tasted awesome.

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It was held at Jeff and Janet’s, he showed us around some of his old car and trucks which he quite rightly called his treasures.

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They also showed us their drying oven with some fish on the go.

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We took another trip into town one day to wander the historical section. This green house was built-in 1937 constructed of Douglas Fir and cedar as a general mercantile, hardware store and boarding house until 1989. It still serves the community today.

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The weather in Homer almost has its own unique micro climate as these photos show.

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On our last night in Homer Dean and Becky surprised by inviting us out to a meal in town with Dean’s brother Jules and family, the food was excellent. Karen had rockfish with mixed spice topping and Kev had lamb, we all walked it off afterward down on the local beach.

Our time in Homer was made really magical by the friendship we received from everyone but especially Dean and Becky, thanks to all of you involved.

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On advice from Dean we headed to Anchor point for a photo on our route out from Homer, as the sign says it is North America’s most westerly highway point. It was here we saw the fishing boats being towed in and out by huge tractors.

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Next up – Kenai

 

 

 

 

  1. #1 by Kev & Karen on April 3, 2014 - 2:08 am

    Hi Mark and Debbie
    Thank you for your interesting comment and for sharing our website with your friends.
    I figured those tractors had another commercial use so now we know.
    Judging by the rust on the older red one these machines just get run until they fall apart. They drive them way out into deep water.
    It must be just about the most hostile environment to run a machine like that in.
    The moral of the story must be don’t buy a secondhand skidder from Alaska haha.
    Kev and Karen

  2. #2 by Mark Todd on March 30, 2014 - 11:30 pm

    Karen and Kev,

    We met you for short bit in Mammouth Hot Springs in Yellowstone.

    Since then I have been a follower of you two via your web blogs.

    I have also told others about your venture around the world and they too have subscribed to your blogs.

    Your comment about the very big tractors used to haul the boats out of the water in Homer pompted me to write a short comment. Where I live, in the Sandpoint Idaho area, those are called skidders. They are used out in the forest to haul or skid the trees from the forest to the log landing, after they are cut down. Then the trees are limbed and bucked to the required length and loaded onto log truck for the the trip to the saw mill.

    It looks like in Homer they have also found another use for them. I bet the salt water is rough on them too. Hopefully they keep them power washed or steam cleaned on a regular basis, or they will end up like some of the rusty hulks you have viewed in your travels of the abondoned gold fields of the north country.

    Mark and Debbie Todd
    Sandpoint, ID

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