A day at the beach in Homer, Alaska

in #alaska3 years ago

This has been a busy summer. We kicked it off June 1st (yes, that was the beginning of summer in Alaska) with a family trip to a small town called Homer. It's about a three and a half hour drive. We were going to sleep in a tent. With our two kids, ages seven and five. Thankfully, my in-laws joined us and brought their cozy motor-home.

A1 Drive.JPG

Typical views along the Seward Highway when leaving Anchorage. This portion of the highway travels along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet.

The drive went well. Thankfully my wife and I made the smart move to go to the library the day before, so the kiddos enjoyed a stack of books during the long drive.

Reading on the road.jpg

My super cute bookworms.

We also made a stop at the halfway point in Soldotna at the best bakery there. It's called 'The Moose Is Loose' and as to be expected with an Alaskan tourist trap bearing such a name they sell a crap-ton of moose related paraphernalia. But we go for the donuts. They're incredible.

After the tasty treats we went to the Soldotna playground. So, a weird thing about playgrounds in Alaska. Anchorage is the main city of Alaska (largest population, easiest access, yet not the capitol) but all the playgrounds are mediocre. Sure, there are more playgrounds, but it seems all the small towns on the highway system have incredible playgrounds. Soldotna, Girdwood, Talkeetna, and Homer all have really cool playgrounds. They're built with quality materials, they're huge, and visually creative.


The top two are different angles of the playground in Homer and the bottom two are in Soldotna. There's probably about 2/3rds of both playgrounds not shown in these pictures.

When we arrived in Homer we setup camp. Wow, were we glad my wife's parents came with their motor-home. It was huge and was more comfortable than a tent. We were glamping, for sure. And a happy surprise: turned out the campground was right next to the massive Homer playground. Next to the playground was this interesting piece of mobile, art... thing.

Made of driftwood, a toy car, a piece of red glass, and various other bits n' bobbles it was amusing to watch. It had to be difficult to balance all these pieces and have it hold-up long term in a public place.

Homer is a beautiful place. The main tourist attraction is known as The Homer Spit. It's a piece of land that juts out into Kachemak Bay covered in touristy shops, fishing guides, and a semi-famous bar (which I've never gone into... because it just seems like a typical Alaskan dive).

The Homer Spit. CC license photo by Derek Ramsey on Wikicommons.

A few photos I took of shops on the spit. Handmade pottery is fairly popular in South Central Alaska. There are several good artists all along the Seward Highway. Oh, and beneath that lighthouse lies the Salty Dawg Saloon.

It's fun to poke around a little bit on the spit, but what we enjoy most of all is walking the beach. I've shared some macro looks at the beach in some recent posts, so if you've been following those you have gotten a little bit of a glimpse at how unique Alaskan beaches are. I do love the ocean, so it's easy to say that spending time walking the rocky beach with my wife and kids was the best part of the trip.

Fishing boat.JPG

Not my family, not my dog, I just captured the quintessential view one can expect whilst on an Alaskan beach. Well, that's if you're there on one of the few days we have warm, sunny weather.


Old pier.JPG

While walking the beach I noticed something on the horizon that didn't look familiar. If this existed last time I was in Homer, then I failed to remember it. I went closer to find out what the strange structure was--some monument I figured, and I was right. Except I wasn't really expecting it to be as serious as it turned out to be: a memorial to those lost at sea.

Memorial 00.JPG

Memorial 0.JPG

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Each of the six pillars around the circumference bear the names of those who have died in Alaskan seas over the years. At the feet of the seafarer people have placed beach rocks, shells, and fresh flowers. Adjacent to the main memorial is a bell, which I'm guessing is rung during a ceremony when a new nameplate is added. Commercial fishing is a large part of this area's livelihood and Alaska--being of harsh weather--claims a fair number of fisherman each year.

After this somber spot of reflection I returned to the beach stroll with my family. A couple of missed opportunities I was hoping to catch on this trip included a visit to my favorite bookshop in Homer.

We stopped by during the sparse business hours (Friday and Saturday, 1pm-7ish) but the door was locked. I called the phone number but the proprietor said "ehhh I'll be open tomorrow." I suppose that's a perk of turning the bottom of your house into a bookstore. I wanted to snap some photos to share how crazy this place this, but we never had the chance to go back on this trip.

Bookshelves are everywhere. Piles of books lie on the floor when there isn't room on the shelves. I can explore this place for hours! And really impressive thing is that the owner knows where everything is. Everything. Last time we were there I left with a nearly one-hundred year old hard cover of Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Kinda felt like I stole it too, because he only asked for something around six dollars. He's a friendly, eclectic pothead (the odor was still ripe from a bowl recently smoked before our entrance) and you can't depend on when the bookshop might be open, but man I love that place.

The other missed opportunity is a photographer's playground on the spit known as the boat graveyard, or the gypsy houseboat. An old abandoned freighter ship has been turned into a house and is surrounded by other abandoned ships and various seafaring detritus. It's actually very interesting and with my attraction to all things nautical I could likely spend hours there with my camera.

I wasn't able to capture any photos on this trip, but you can find images elsewhere that offer a glimpse. Anyone visiting the Homer spit can't miss this place--it's right next to the road. The one example I've referenced here doesn't even show a fraction of the abandoned boats and junk on the property, it just features the main attraction: the gypsy houseboat.

And any camping trip wouldn't be complete without a campfire, s'mores, and local beer. Homer Brewing has been the only show in town for a long period of time, and I already knew they make excellent beer. Then I heard there was another show in town: Grace Ridge Brewing. On our two nights there my father-in-law and I made sure to get something from each of the two breweries for each evening. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to drop into beer review mode for a moment...

Fire Smores.JPG

Homer Brewing Company
Grace Ridge Brewing
Fire Homer brewing.JPGFire Grace ridge brew.JPG
One of the best brewers in the state, but you can only get it in Homer. The choice was difficult as they had some good selections on tap--including a black Belgian ale--but we went with an old favorite: their Scottish red. The red has a respectable alcohol level that doesn't bite due to the complex malts with just enough hops to round out the flavor profile. It comes through in every way that these guys know what they're doing. If I can use it as a descriptor, I'd say their beers show maturity.The owner's wife got him a beer kit one Christmas and his retirement hobby grew into a brewery. This 32oz can cost more than the 64oz growler from Homer Brewing. We sampled a couple of styles on tap and weren't impressed. We took home the only one we hadn't tried: Amber ale--a popular go-to in Alaska. This was the best of their beers but it was a very basic representation of the style. The thin palate was what you'd expect from an amateur home brewer. We'd rather have returned to Homer Brewing for a growler of that black Belgian.

I hope you enjoyed this recap of a family trip to one of our favorite little Alaskan towns. I took all of these photos except the one of the spit where CC license is noted and obviously the one image references by in-text link. Alaska is a unique place full of beauty and eccentricity.

Thanks for reading! I'd love to see your comments. What Alaskan experiences have you had or hope to have someday?


Man, that sounds like a blast! I'd love to visit that bookstore someday, assuming it's open.

It's good to see you posting again, by the way!

Thanks bud! Yeah, this summer has been busy with a lot of things between work, family, and getting the most out of Alaska's short summer. Steemit posts fell a little low on the priority list but I've been making time for it again.

What a glorious recap of a family trip. Excellent photos, and the mini beer review at the end was a perfect cap to the storyline.

I kind of want to see what a 100 yr old copy of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde looks like. Of course, I'm imagining leather-bound tomes with articulating eyeballs on the cover; I'm sure it's more pedestrian than that.

Great post :)

Thanks Neg, I thought you'd appriciate the mini beer review. Homer Brewing is legit! Perhaps I'll have to do a set of posts featuring some highlights of my bookshelf.

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What a great post. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. I esp like the mini beer reviews ;) God that Alaska landscape is gorgeous! I gotta make it up there for a trip someday.

It is spectacular and there's nearly limitless wilderness to explore. The thing is, it just gets old when that's all there is. The weather is very hit and miss in the summer and winter feels like a long period of survival. I'd love to be a personal guide for anyone that visits as long as I'm here. It's always a lot more fun sharing the splendor with someone for the first time when it has become the norm. And it's not that I've become desensitized to it--it hasn't lost its luster--just that when it's all there is ot can lose a little of the excitement. So it's nice to leech some of that excitement off a visiting friend now and then. Haha

First-rate photographs. This place is without a doubt one of my favorite cities in the world. I used to be a telling a pal that I suppose they must have had the blue hour in thoughts after they have been constructing the city, there are just so many amazing locations to get incredible snapshots inside the evening.

I used to be there 10 nights in December and it simply wasn't sufficient time to look the entirety and get all the pics I desired. I think I want to move returned and spend as a minimum a month there some time.

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. Homer is one of my favorite spots in Alaska as well. You visited in December huh? You probably got a taste of some real winter then, haha. Spending a month there in the dinner would be nice, especially if you made sure to go on some boat tours or take the water ferry across Kachemak Bay over to Halibut Cove.

Wow. Quite a trip report. Great photos. Your kids must have had a ball on those playgrounds. They look awesome!

They're very awesome. Whenever we go to one of these towns we're sure to spend time there. On nice days when we've got nothing going on we sometimes drive to Girdwood (little less than an hour) because they have one of these cool playgrounds. So hard to believe that Anchorage has none like these.

Looks so amazing. I would love to travel there as well.

We live in Alaska and have been to Homer several times. It's in our top two Alaskan towns we love to visit--might be number one. Great to have on anyone's list who plans to visit Alaska. Seward is smaller town and gets more traffic because it's less of a drive from Anchorage, but that place turns into a ghost town in the winter when the cruise ships stop coming. The only thing left open there in the winter is the SeaLife Center. Homer stays interesting year round mostly, because it has a lot going for it other than the touristy stuff on the spit that closes during winter.

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