"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Long Drive Home

Jay maneuvered the Stormbird away from the dock in Halibut Cove at 10 AM Saturday morning and motored towards the mouth of the cove.  Kachemak Bay was, as Lucinda put it, "flat as a fritter."  In less than an hour, we were tied up and unloading in Homer.

Jim, in whose home I had spent the last month, was there to meet me.  He drove into town and we had a late breakfast at the Duncan House, just the kind of simple, down-home place I like.  Good food, homey surroundings, no pretense.
I left Homer at noon, beginning the long uphill drive from sea level to the plateau that follows Cook Inlet northeast.  Home is 131 miles north.  With the speed limit 55mph, except through the five small towns that I will pass, I should have been home in about three hours, including time to stop in Soldotna for a few groceries and to gas up the truck.  I didn't get home until 5 PM.

Across the road from Wells Fargo Bank, a half dozen protesters were holding picket signs.    I could read only one sign, and I think it read, "You are part of the 99 %."  I guess the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations had come to Homer.  I drove on by.

I hadn't even reached the top of the climb before I pulled over. The view in my rear view mirror was irresistible.

That gravel bar sticking  out five miles in the water is the famous Homer spit.  That's Kachemak Bay, with Cook Inlet out of sight to the sight.  A number of businesses, RV parks, restaurants, charter offices, and the renowned Salty Dog saloon are on the Spit.  Quite a few are shuttered for the winter now.

You can just make out a ridge line in the foreground across the water.  The entrance to Halibut Cove is where that ridge meets the water.

I pulled into a scenic park area near the top of the climb out of Homer.  A bald eagle was perched in a leafless cottonwood, surveying its realm.  I walked within twenty feet of it, taking pictures.  It didn't move, though its head swiveled constantly, totally aware of everything in sight.

I passed the eagle, and took another shot of the Spit.

This gives you a better idea of what the Spit looks like.  The boat harbors are in the wider area near the end of the Spit.  You can see the ridge in the foreground across the bay, but not the entrance to the Cove.

I walked to the far end of the paved parking lot and saw an amazing sight.  In the far distance, the peak of Mt. Iliamna was visible above the clouds.  It is one of four active volcanoes on the far side of Cook Inlet, and Iliamna was venting one heck of a head of steam.

Barely visible beyone that was the next volcano, Mt. Redoubt (not in this photo), and it too seemed to be venting, though it could have been an errant white puff of a cloud.

I drove on, hoping to get better photos in Ninilchik,  but that layer of clouds obscured the mountains.  All I could see above Iliamna was that plume of steam going straight up.  That alone should tell you what a nice day it was for late October.  It was shirt sleeve weather, calm and sunny.

Somewhere in this area, I pulled off the highway again and reached for the camera.  This big gal was too close to resist.

I made it all the way to Soldotna before I stopped again this time for groceries and gas.  Then, the next time I pulled over was in Cooper Landing, where the mountains appeared to be twice as high because of an optical illusion that occurs when clouds obscure the middle of the mountains.

The next stop was ten miles farther up the highway--at Tern Lake, only a mile from home.  A number of swans have chosen this place for a pause in their migration.

And, a little closer....

And then, in more ways than one, I was home.


  1. welcome home and thanx for the scenic drive with you. Wish I could have stayed for a cup of tea. ;)

  2. whoo hoo! I figgered out how to get back to the old format of enlarged pics! The Tern Lake one makes me heave a sigh of homecoming

  3. There are a lot of superlatives I could use to describe your words and photos, but I've already used up my quota of "remarkable, awesome, fantastic, inspiring," et al in other comments on your site yesterday and today, so I'll just say, I especially like your closing line about being home.