Tom & Charlene's Excellent Adventures travel blog

Sunset over the Harbor

Mountains across the bay at sunset

Tom viewing the sand hill cranes


Starfish from the side of the dock

A very unique boat

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How lucky can we get – two days of glorious sunshine in a row. The temp only get up to about 70 but the wind is blustery so there is a wind chill. How do you tell the Alaskans in a crowd from the tourists? The Alaskans are the ones in shorts, T’s and flip-flops. The tourists are wearing jean & jackets! (We plead guilty to that)

We began our day at the Islands and Oceans Center. This is part of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. We arrived just in time to join the hike around Baluga Slough. This is a wetlands area along Bishop’s Beach that has been reclaimed and improved by the Wildlife Refuge. It was a very interesting walk led by a ranger as we learned about a boreal forest and the many plants that thrive in the preserve. We have noticed Fireweed growing everywhere we have traveled in Alaska. Fireweed is the State Flower of Alaska. Up near Tok, Fairbanks and Denali the Fireweed was 12-18 in. tall. As we’ve traveled southward the Fireweed is up to 5 ft. tall. They way when the very tops bus bloom it will be about 4 weeks to the first snow. Sure hope we are out of Alaksa by then! We saw several sandhill cranes out in the slough. The tide around Homer can vary by as much as 39 feet in this area.

After the hike we returned to the Center to visit the many exhibits. We have been impressed by the various museums we have visited during this journey. All have been excellent and the staffs have been outstanding.

We made a quick trip back to the small boat harbor on the Spit for another tour with the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies. This was a very hands-on experience. Our guide, Carla, would lie down on the docks and pull off sea creatures for us to hold and examine. We saw barnacles, clams. Mussels, jellyfish, starfish, crabs, snails, sea urchins and a bunch of others whose names I forget. It was an interesting 90 minutes. The tide is the harbor can raise as much as 27 feet. The docks float with the tide and the ramps attached to them change position as the tide rises or recedes.

Visited the Wednesday Farmers’ Market. Lots of veggies on sale. Kale, spinach, beets, carrots, kohlrabi, broccoli and herbs. Salmon seasoning was a big seller and homemade jellies and salsa. We walked out with a bag of salty & sweet kettle corn.

Ate at Captain Patties – another repeat from our first trip. Had settled on the grilled halibut until the waitress told us about the evening special. Scallops wrapped with prosciutto, grilled and covered with a red pepper sauce – we both ordered that – OH YUM!

We went down to the Fishing Hole to watch the locals try for salmon. The Fishing Hole is on the Spit. As the tide rises so does the water in the Hole. Along with the rising tide in come the salmon. There were probably 40 or more people fishing. Salmon were jumping out of the water, almost like they were doing tricks. A couple times 2 jumped at the same time – like synchronized jumping! Then we saw a sea lion cruising the Hole. Salmon are a sea lion’s favorite meal. We didn’t see him eating and fish but he was doing a lot of diving.

Tonight we are at the Homer Spit Campground. Time to recharge the camera and computer and take real showers. You may wonder why I type the date at the beginning of each page. It's the only way we can keep track of which day it is - remember we're on vacation ;-).

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