Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day 4, The Kenai Peninsula - Kenai, Soldotna, and Homer

Kenai/Homer weather: High 58, low 49, Mostly cloudy in the morning, but clear and sunny in the afternoon
Steps walked: Shaun - 6,968 steps, 4 floors climbed; Shannon - 5,693 steps, 3 floors climbed
Critter count: 3 eagles, multiple arctic terns (these birds have the longest migratory distance of any bird, traveling some 20,000 miles each season), 1 deer/caribou/small four-legged creature, 1 possible bear/log, 2 moose(s)

We started the day at the Grouchy Old Woman B&B, which is run by Sharon, a very nice (not grouchy at all) woman, in her home. We have a room in the lower level of the house, with the whole level to ourselves, and the house is built into a hillside, so the ceilings are high and there is a wonderful view of Daniels Lake from all the windows. Sharon is a kindred sprit because her house and property is filled with lush plants and abundant flowers, as well as walls of bookshelves. A woman after our own heart!

We decided to visit Homer, at the bottom of the Kenai Peninsula, first, which Sharon said was her favorite place on earth. She gave us all kinds of inside information that we put to good use on our visit to the town, including our lunch destination and shop suggestions. More on that later.

First, we stopped at the Kenai Visitor and Cultural Center, where we watched a surprisingly good movie on Alaskan wildlife and avoided looking at the Wall of Death that had examples of the different species of animals found in the area. 

This is a cool lighthouse we saw. Don't know anything about it, just thought it looked interestingly precarious out there:

The 2-hour drive from the city of Kenai to Homer took us through the towns of Soldotna and a bunch of little towns, with the Cook Inlet to our right the whole time. There were more amazing views of the inlet, as well as Mount Redoubt and Mount Iliamna, which we stopped often to photograph, naturally. These peaks are part of the Ring of Fire, the network of volcanos that runs around the Pacific Ocean. Mount Redoubt was active as recently as 2009, and there are 3 others in the area that are in various stages of activity. It was pretty cloudy, though, so most of the mountains were obscured. 

We also saw some ginormous halibut hanging up. This area is famous for its fishing, including halibut and salmon, and the silver (coho) salmon are currently running, so there are a ton of fisherdudes everywhere. On the drive, Shaun also saw a deer/caribou/small four-legged animal, and Shannon might or might not have seen a bear, which could have just as easily been a weirdly shaped log. Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

Once we arrived in Homer, we decided to go to lunch at the restaurant Sharon suggested, called the Land's End, which is located at the very end of Homer Spit. This narrow extension of land juts out into Kachemak Bay, and at the end of the spit, we had panoramic views of the bay, the Cook Inlet, and Kachemak Bay State Park across the water. It would be hard to find a more beautiful location, and we sat outside in the sunshine while we ate clam chowder and elk (yes, ELK) meatloaf. It was awesome!

After lunch, we did some shopping in Homer and on the spit, including art galleries where Shannon bought more art for walls she doesn't have. We also hit up the local farmer's market, which was serendipitously open on Wednesdays, where we managed to buy (more) jewelry and some locally made jam. We ended our time in Homer by driving up the mountain to view the whole area from above. What a spectacular sight! 

On our way back to Kenai, Shaun managed to stop several more times for photo opportunities, even once at a turnoff that we had visited on the way to Homer (she said she was trying to get the perfect picture of the fireweed to eventually be framed and hung in the kitchen, but it's mostly because she's obsessive. BTW, fireweed is plant that is blooming all over the place here, and the locals can tell when winter is about to start based on how much of the fireweed is left to bloom). The clouds that had obscured the mountains had cleared up by then, so we were able to get some pretty great shots of Mount Redoubt and Mount Iliamna.

We stopped at Froso's (thanks, Debbie and Carl, for the suggestion!) in Soldatna for dinner, and we were able to get to Kenai beach in just enough time to see the sunset. As we were leaving the beach, what should we see but MOOSES! A mama and baby were grazing about 50 yards from the side of the road and could not care less that Shaun was papa-stalking them. We must have stayed there for 30 minutes, just watching them and taking pictures. They were super cute, the baby testing its boundaries with the mama, but coming back to nurse every once in awhile. The mama knew we were there and would glance up at us, but otherwise, they did their business and we did ours. The only thing that distracted them enough to gain both of their attention was when a plane flew by and they watched its progress. It was the perfect way to end a perfect day.

P.S. Shaun has decided that she wants to move out here, but this is the only place she can afford:


  1. great picture of the eagle, we too liked Homer. The quilt store my mom liked was right next to the farmers market, which by the way, we bought jelly from there too....yummy stuff.

    Can't wait for you to visit and post some more.

    1. Sadly we didn't make it to the quilt store. I wanted to go back out onto the spit to a sweater place instead, so we ran out of time. We did get a very pretty sweater for me and a hippy shirt for Shannon. So much Alaska, so little time!

  2. also, small world. Mitch is working in AZ with someone that lived in Homer for a few years. Also, have you noticed that a lot of people you talk to are either native or transplanted from the mid-west.

    1. We have absolutely noticed that. We're going to include that in a post because we've met so many folks from Michigan. I might have to become one of them! This place rocks!!!!