Sunday, July 22, 2012

Alaskan Adventure: Part 1, Homer

Have you been to Alaska?  Perhaps on a cruise?  This was a different sort of trip, and I don't pretend to have seen very much of Alaska, but we did get to know a couple of places well, and to have a feeling for the way our friends live there.  Six years ago, we first visited Denise, my classmate from the High School of Music and Art ('63), and her friend Serge, who live in Homer.  It was a happy reunion and we generally fell in love with the place.  Peter's various illnesses prevented us from revisiting sooner, but praise be, he is well now, so this was not only a second happy journey to Alaska, but also back to our old way of life with traveling adventures!


We flew to Anchorage, and as flights from the lower 48 all seem to arrive around 1 AM, we spent the rest of the night at a Best Western, and in the morning drove the couple of hundred very scenic miles to the pretty town of Homer, on the Kenai Peninsula.  Above, Peter as we stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the view of Cook Inlet.




We stopped first at Serge's house, a few miles outside Homer, and he and Denise had a wonderful salmon dinner waiting for us!  His homemade bread, and greens picked right then from his garden, were divine.  This is Denise in the garden.



This is Denise's cabin, where she has lived in the summers (winters in New York) since the 1960s.




Some of Denise's glass artwork



Even Denise's doorknob is all about color (particularly blue) and light!  As should come as no surprise, given my blog's title, I love one of her mottoes: "Always remember to love the little shiny things."   Denise's father was a famous sculptor, Ibram Lassaw, and she has continued practicing art since our Music and Art days.  Russian born Serge is a poet and academic.



Then we drove to our hotel, the lovely Good Karma Inn, owned and run by a Buddhist friend of Denise's.  The view, as you drive down into Homer is spectacular:  Kachemak Bay with snowy volcanoes arising from the water.  These flowers are called Pushki, or Alaskan cow parsnip, and it's a pernicious weed that leaves blisters if you handle it. 



These are the more benign and beautiful lupines!



We arrived at the Good Karma late, as dusk was falling, with a view of fields running down to the bay, and a rainbow.  In July it's only dark for a few hours, starting at midnight.



The rainbow a little later...this was about 11 PM.


Next morning, a bright sunny view from our deck.

The mountains beyond


The little Buddhist shrine in the garden has a most attractive dragon.



Peter at the Good Karma Inn



A room at Good Karma - I think this one was called "Wisdom."  There are only three rooms; it's really a bed and breakfast.  Another room is "Kindness."  Ours was "Mindfulness."  Perfectly quiet, with the the most comfortable king size bed...and great wifi!


Door opening onto our deck



The door to Mindfulness

Me on the deck, relaxed for a change!




Peter enjoying the peacefulness



Next day we drove into town.  This is a typical Homer scene, blue pickup truck speeding down the beach, almost certainly with a dog or dogs in the back!



Homer has the most wonderful used bookstore, a real treasure trove, The Old Inlet Bookshop.  It's connected to the attractive Mermaid Cafe.  I bought several books, but my favorite is about a "sourdough teacher" who went to Alaska to teach after World War I.



A coffeehouse.  Homer's a bit of an artsy, hippie town, with lots of galleries.  Maybe that's part of the reason we love it so much.


It has the most gorgeous new library - stunning design, with windows looking out on mountain and bay views, with lupines and irises all around.



Stained glass window in the library.



We went out on a halibut fishing excursion, since we hadn't done that on our last trip and always wanted to.  But seas were so rough nearly all the boats turned back that day, and a seaplane actually turned over in Homer's Beluga Lake, tragically killing a woman.  Our boat didn't turn back but at least half the people were sick.  I was not sick, and caught a halibut!  A small but legal one, 14 pounds.




Mine is the one with the pink ribbon.  The crew cut them up and bagged them, and mine was somehow reduced to about two pounds in the process...





But I brought it back to Denise and Serge, and he cooked some for me.  Here it is in a sandwich of his homemade bread, with his just picked greens!  One of the tastiest meals I ever ate. 


Me with my catch at Serge's house!



Next day Denise and I stayed on dry land and bopped around Homer (in 1962 as early beatnik chicks of 15, we used to "bop around" Greenwich Village).  Here we are at the attractive Ptarmigan Arts gallery and shop.  I bought sparkly dichroic glass earrings like Denise's, and a mosaic lamp for Paul, who stayed at home to work and watch the cats.



I drew this cartoon in 1962 (if you click, you can see it bigger), and it survived for fifty years in a trunk.  It's my Music and Art crowd disporting themselves in Morningside Park on a spring day.  Denise is the one dancing in the air (recognize her?) and I'm the little brunette sexpot on the grass.  (Don't worry, I don't recognize me either!)   It really sent chills to discover this, and to share it with Denise.  Remarkable.


Dichroic glass earrings...light, bright, and sparkling.



Here's a lovely house belonging to a friend of Denise's in Homer.  The gardens slope down to the bluff, overlooking the bay.



Irises in the garden.



Whalebone gargoyle in the garden of another artist friend



Later Peter and I went for  drive on the Skyline road above Homer.  This is a cache, used by hunters to store game.  I don't know what the flowers are - wild yellow roses?



And in a nature park we saw some chocolate lily flowers, which I've only ever seen in Alaska...



And the road goes on...Next post, Seward and the sea...














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