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What a beautiful place, a town of about 6,000, located on the Kenai Peninsula. Our RV Park was at the end of the Spit, a 4.5-mile narrow strip of land extending into Kachemak Bay. Our RV faced the water where we watched people fishing for Salmon. One morning I was looking out the front window just as a large bird flew down landing in front of us. I went out with the camera and took pictures of an adolescent Bald Eagle. Apparently, it often comes to that area to fish for Salmon, and did not care that several us were taking pictures.
Halibut is another popular fish in Alaska. We learned some interesting information about this fish from message boards along the dock: “Halibut begin life with eyes on both sides of their head. As they develop, the left eye migrates to the right side. This helps prepare them for a successful life as a bottom fish. Since they lay on their left (white) side on the bottom, it makes little sense to have an eye on that side. With both eyes facing up on the right (camouflaged) side, the Halibut is well adapted to sneaking up on its prey.”
Across the bay, we had a wonderful view of Grewingk Glacier which is 13 miles long and was named in 1880 and one of several in the area. Behind us, on the ocean side of the Spit, we could see Mount Augustine Volcano. It is an island, about 4,000 feet high, and the most photographed of Alaska’s four volcanos. Beginning January 2006, it exploded 13 times over 20 days. There are tsunami warning sirens and evacuation route signs all around the town.
There is a scenic lookout on top of a hill where you can see the entire town of Homer, the Spit, and get an awesome view of the glacier, (feature picture).
Driving along the highways there are frequent Moose Crash Area signs giving the tally of Moose killed on Kenai Roads since July 1. Thankfully, that number remained at 0 the entire time we were there.
It is in this area, around the Kachemak Bay that the TV show, “Alaska, the Last Frontier,” is filmed, with the Kilcher Family. We drove up to Kilcher Road so Don could meet Mr. Kilcher, but when we got there, we could see the house was down a private lane, so we did not intrude. If you have ever watched the show, you will know that the overarching theme is to “fill the freezer” before the winter snows come. Someone needs to let the Kilcher family know that only nine miles away is a big Safeway!
Extending across this area, related to the glaciers, is the Harding Icefield. Yule Kilcher and his son Otto were members of the first mountaineering party to successfully cross the Icefield in 1968. It took them eight days to walk from Homer to Seward where they exited at a glacier which was later named Exit Glacier. We went to Seward to see Exit Glacier as we were told you could see it from the highway and drive up to the glacier and touch it. We did see it from the highway, but when we got there we had to hike up a steep mountain to get to the glacier. It was worth the hike! So beautiful, but it is receding so you can no longer get close enough to touch.
We took a boat trip into Kachemak Bay to see birds and other sea creatures. I really wanted to see puffins, which I had never seen in real life, only in pictures. We went out about 40 miles to where some huge rocks rose out of the water and that is where the sea life was. There were so many birds, seagulls, murres and puffins along with otters. The rocks were covered with bird bodies. The guide said there were 10,000 birds there, we did not count them but Don said it “smelled” like about that many! Unfortunately, only a few of the birds were puffins, making it difficult to find them. When we did see them, I learned that contrary to all pictures, they are small birds. From the pics I have seen, I thought they were the size of penguins. Not so, they are more the size of a small duck, but very pretty. The pixs below are not great, but it is hard to get good puffin pix without huge camera lens. Got some good pix of the Mount Augustine Volcano.
My questions about glaciers still have no good answers. It seems normal to me that ice would melt in warm weather, so why all the concern, especially with there are so many glaciers and because their melting feeds the waterfalls, creeks, lakes and rivers? Some of the huge glaciers have been around since the 1800s, so it would seem the melting is normal. The Harding Icefield mentioned above is a remnant from 10,000 years ago!
Also, don’t know if new glaciers are replacing the melting ones. When we left in mid-August, there were so many snow patches on the mountains, some small and some large. Are all those patches new glaciers? Could not get an answer to that question either.
We are off to Valdez, our last place to visit in Alaska before starting our trek back to the Lower 48.