Homer is all about fishing. Fake fish hang from its entry sign, fish freezing and packaging shops are all around town and fish shipped by FEDEX signs abound. The small boat harbor does not resemble our harbors of the North East; the boats are not fancy, but are made out of strong metal, built to withstand forceful waves and harsh conditions. If tourists go in other places for cruises to see glaciers or marine animals, here in Homer all trips are fishing trips, all day outings where you can fish a huge halibut that would fill your fridge for months. There are specific rules about how many fish you can take with you, that you can clean and packaged after the fact and find them frozen on the conveyor belt of your arrival airport terminal ready for your well deserved dinner.
We arrived late in Homer, after a long ride. On GPS there are about 4.5 hours from Anchorage but the road is one of the most beautiful in the area and deserves lots of stops. We took a reservation in the last moment at “King’s Landing”, a hotel that recently changed its management and it proved a great choice and we were told to go to the Spit. “What is the Spit?”, “Well, you’ll see but there are all the activities in Homer”. The Spit is a 4.5 miles long stretch of land inside the bay on which are the harbors, the trips and all restaurants in town, all surrounded by water on both sides. At its end is the coast guard and the industrial fishing enterprises.
One of the cool spots on the Spit is the Salty Dawg Saloon, an old affair of Homer, Alaska, whose interior is covered in dollar bills stuck by customers from all over the world, similar with the one we just recently have seen in Oatman, AZ. Other businesses align the main road where you can park at leisure and stroll leisurely the shore or grab a crepe with a cappuccino like in a any world village. The results of globalization….In Homer the road ends, like many roads in Alaska, and from there you can take a ferry that may bring you to Kodiak and further to all the Aleutian Islands archipelago, a chain of island that go all the way towards Kamchatka Peninsula, in Russia.
Also Homer is the closest point to Katmai National Park, a park full of volcanoes and brown bears standing in the river ready to catch salmon directly in their mouth. You need a little bit more time to get there than what we planned to spend in Homer, thou.
Not far outside of Homer is the small village of Ninilchik where is the headquarter of the Russian Orthodox Church of Alaska, the head church for the one we saw in Anchorage. The tiny church with its discreet golden onions on top in the unassuming cemetery brings the perfume of the discreet charm of the orthodox churches of an old Russian tradition that somehow got meshed into the more pragmatical Anglo culture. But if you happen to be there do not miss the spectacular view over the Ninilchik bay, just steps away from the front of the church.