The nice folks at the Best Western King Salmon Motel had a computer in the lobby, so I checked my work email, cleared up a few questions, and we left Soldotna heading south toward Homer.
It was a beautiful drive; the mountains receded and the landscape began to flatten as we approached the coast. Stopped for a good look at Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Iliamna–gorgeous!
Someone told us to check out Ninilchik, a rustic Russian fishing village on the way to Homer. We did, and the small church there was beautiful.
Tiny onion domes gave it a Russian architectural flavor, but it also looked “seaworthy,” perched on a hill above the stormy inlet.
Just outside Homer, we stopped at a rest area also perched on a ridge above the inlet. Some group had created a beautiful little garden there, and it featured both flowers and veggies. A big wooden sign welcomed us to the region and proclaimed Homer the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World!”
A nice lady offered the services of her son to take our picture with the Homer sign–the son had won a trip and was traveling with his parents through Alaska. They seemed to be having a lovely time and had just finished up some halibut fishing in Homer; we wished them well and drove the last few miles into Homer.
The road keeps dropping lower and lower until you’re practically at sea level. We wound up at Fat Olives for lunch and enjoyed squash bisque, Caesar salad, and toasted paninis–all delicious! Went to the Visitors Center after that and got a sense of some things we might want to see in town. We wandered around a little, but all I really wanted to do was take a nap–we were near the end of our trip and we’d done a *lot* of driving over the past eight or nine days.
Drove to the end of Homer Spit–a narrow finger of land that sticks out into Kachemak Bay (and the place of which Tom Bodett speaks when he says, “It’s as far as you can go without a passport”). As it gets closer and closer to the end, it’s finally just two lanes wide with a marina on one side and a strip of boardwalk and shops on the other. Since it was September, traffic wasn’t bad and some businesses were closed for the season. In the heart of the summer, though, we learned that it’s pretty much gridlock 24/7 as halibut fishers and tourists struggle to maneuver their RV’s and rental cars and fishing boats on trailers along the spit. Lawsy!
Lands End Resort takes up the very end of the spit. It consists of a weathered main building–complete with wooden figures of two fisherman and a mermaid–and a newer “arm” of rooms that stretches back along the bay.
In such a prime location, we weren’t sure if there would be rooms available (we were still flying by the seats of our pants without reservations) and if so, would it be affordable. My BIL went in to check; came back with good news: we had a suite with two bedrooms and a deck overlooking Kachemak Bay. Sweet!
We checked in, took a brief nap, and went out in search of dinner. Ended up at Crabbies Seafood & Steakhouse and I think we all had some form of halibut (we were, after all, in the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World!). My sister and I both ordered the halibut sandwich and the manager demanded to know if we planned to eat the buns. A little afraid to say “no,” we nodded in agreement; we planned to eat those buns. The manager (a former customer service rep for a major commercial airline, so you can *imagine* why we felt compelled to eat the buns!) said she was tired of tourists ordering the sandwich and wasting the buns, which were expensive, so if we didn’t want the buns, we should let her know before the kitchen fixed the sandwiches. (She was an extremely nice and interesting person, just a little forceful on the topic of buns.) On another interesting note, the background music in the restaurant was apparently on a CD, which got hung on one song–Michael Jackson’s “I’ll Be There”–and played it 13 times in a row (we counted)…
Back at Lands End, we were treated to an incredible show of the nearly-full moon rising over Kachemak Bay, and thus ended our first day in Homer!