There were brown and black bears at the Pratt Museum in Homer (www.prattmuseum.org), but they came to you via a live BearCam feed from Kodiak Island. They had other cameras set up at a bird sanctuary, and you could manipulate these cameras as if you were playing a video game. There were also a lot of dead animals in the museum, all nicely exhibited so you could get up close and personal with loons, eagles, baby seals, whale skeletons, wolves, coyotes, and other winged and four legged creatures. The gift shop had some nice native artifacts and a plethora of children’s toys.
Homer, like most Alaskan cities, is small and can be seen in a day, though there are a few restaurants worth choosing from (the playful Café Cups and the Italian Fat Olive in town; the popular Captain Pattie’s and the more elegant Land’s End Chart Room on the Spit) and one overcrowded bar—the Salty Dawg—full of colorful local characters. We stayed at the Land’s End Resort, at the very end of the Spit (the Spit is a six mile stretch at the tip of Homer where most of the chartered fishing and bear-watching boats are located, as well as where the RVs park and the campers camp along the rocky shoreline. It is also where dozens of souvenir shops sell sweaters, knives, carvings, and caps). At dusk we walked by the sea and saw seals and sea otters float nearby. In the early morning we watched the fishing boats heading out to the ocean from our hotel room window.
After breakfast at the Sweetberry Café in Homer (we were told it was the place to go, and it was) we drove up the Sterling Highway and down the Seward Highway 180 miles to Seward, where it had been raining for three straight weeks. We wanted to hike to the Exit Glacier, so we stayed at the nearby Windsong Lodge (www.SewardWindsong.com), which is quite an interesting complex of log cabin buildings, with a very good restaurant. The next morning we took a guided tour to the glacier and though it rained the walk was invigorating….at least until the guide told us about how a black bear once attacked a moose calf right along the trail where we walked. The momma moose tried to come to the rescue of her calf but a second black bear appeared and the moose had to kick her way out of danger. The cub was shared by the two bears as stunned tourists on both sides of the trail watched in horror. After hearing that story, it was difficult to concentrate on a giant slab of blue/white ice when all the way to the glacier and all the way back to the parking lot one had to walk along trails filled with bear scat and moose pellets.
“It’s Alaska,” our guide said.
It sure was Alaska, I guess, when we boarded the small catamaran to take a three-hour nauseating ride through Resurrection Bay into the high wavy angry Gulf of Alaska and then through Aialik Bay to get to the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge (www.alaskawildland.com). We had taken a motion-sickness pill the hour before departure, but there was just too much motion causing too much sickness on board. Naturally, my wife didn’t get sick. And I was doing pretty well until she brought up Greece. “Remember that boat from Crete to Rhoades, how sick you were?”
That was it. I was a goner, once again. The Greek experience is not one I care to relate because it was just so….disagreeable. We were tossed around like a Greek salad for hours, until the color on most passengers’ faces was a sallow green. Just being reminded of that trip makes me queasy. Being reminded of it on a boat headed out into the Pacific Ocean where nine foot waves lifted us up and crashed us back down was not my idea of a tactful utterance. And when our boat narrowly missed hitting a diving orca whale by about a foot all I could do was feel for that giant animal and wonder if such grand creatures ever got seasick.