Homer Part 2 – Eagles & Halibuts & Whales, Oh My!

Homer was action-packed, so here’s part 2.  Lots of wildlife to report, and happy to say we got our moose photo.  More on that later.  I’ll start with the eagles and our Anchor Point outing.

Anchor Point

Back up the road just a bit is a nice little town with some great views.  We had a rainy day and decided to spend it on a car ride to see a few things.  Anchor Point boasts the Westernmost point in the North American highway system.  There are roads further West, but they don’t connect to anything else.

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I got my sign picture, but the rain is managing to get through the trees and drip down the back of my head and neck.

From this spot we walked over to the park signs and covered benches to get out of the rain.  That’s when a young couple came up with their binoculars and asked if we saw the eagles on the beach.  Really?  Where?  And this gets me back out in the rain to snap some pictures.  I read a quote that bald eagles are like pigeons up here.  Very true, but they are still pretty awesome to see.

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This is the fellow that first attracted all the attention.

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Then more start swooping in, and next thing you know, there are at least five on the beach.  And they are squabbling over the dead fish.  The seagulls are staying out of it, but hoping for scraps.  Definitely worth a little rain down the back of my neck.

And on the way back down the Westernmost road……..

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….the elusive Moose!  A cow and she wasn’t too sure about us.  I saw her, slammed on the brakes, and backed up to get the picture.  Actually Pat made me get off the road a bit and turned on the flashers for me.  I see how tourists get so excited and do dumb things on the roadways to see the wildlife.  I give him credit for keeping us as safe as my driving would allow and for taking the picture for me out the car window.

Our campground host told us about an art gallery in Anchor Point and that seemed like the perfect rainy day activity.  Norman Lowell is an Alaskan resident artist and has been since 1958.  He paints all the surrounding scenery in oil and has some magnificent pieces on display in his gallery.

My shots do not do them justice.  He’s able to capture the many moods of the mountains, glaciers and on the water.  Mr. Lowell also has some of his journal notes framed and on the walls with his paintings.  I particularly like this one.

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This trip and this state have certainly been a mixed bag of weather.  I always say I like a good grumpy day and especially enjoy the cloud shrouded mountains.  And just when IS the sea wetter or more full of mystery than with the mist upon her face?

Some of Norman Lowell’s works were gigantic and took up whole walls.  His system is to sketch and paint smaller versions of the sights he chooses, before creating the bigger than life version.  He uses traditional brushes of course, but also palette knives and for a few even admitted to using his wife’s spatula.  We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Lowell and I mentioned the spatula I’d read about.  He noted that it had just the right amount of flexibility and he’s not sure his wife ever got it back.  Not sure she wanted it back, I suggested.  He’s now legally blind, but continues to paint with a complex rigging of over-sized lights around his canvases.  This stop was a very unexpected delight in a place I’d never even heard of before this trip.

Seldovia

Before arriving in Homer, we were able to make a date with our friends Cheryl & David to take the ferry to Seldovia.  So, on a cloudy Sunday, we boarded the boat for the 45 minute ride over to the city only accessible by boat or air.  It is a very sleepy waterfront town, but full of colorful flowers and wood carvings.

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You know why Pat is looking so cheerful, right?  Yep, he’s got those bunny ears behind my head.  Naughty.

 

Seldovia is home to lots of fishing boats, another Russian Orthodox church, Ravens – real and carved, plus this carving of a deep sea angler fish.  The town was once bigger and busier than Homer.  That is until the Good Friday earthquake of 1964 dropped the coastline by four feet, flooding most everything.  In the end, it had to be rebuilt and by that time, Homer had a road connecting it to the rest of the mainland.  So now Homer is the hot ticket and Seldovia is the quiet, less frequented spot.

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Couldn’t resist riding the giant salmon carving.  Photo credit goes to our friend David from Texas.  Pat and Cheryl are in the background checking out some other carvings.

Seldovia coastline views.  Pat and I climbed up the hillside with a rope assist to capture these.  Actually you needed the rope more to get down.

Flowers, flowers and more flowers.  I’m enjoying the blooms so much and all the bright colors.  They had flowers planted in old boots all along the boardwalk.  So creative.

Halibut Charter

We booked a full day halibut charter with Captain Mike on his boat, Wild Thing, after hearing how much fun some random travelers had.  We met them at the Ninilchik church overlook, and since the man and his 13 year old grandson had such a good time, we were hooked.  No pun intended.

Our day was sunny and clear and gave us a great view of all four active volcanoes across Cook Inlet.  We’d not seem them so clearly before that.  Of course Captain Mike booked it for about an hour and a half – 50 miles total – to get to a fishing spot.  While we motored on, the radio traffic was funny.  Fishermen all saying good morning and “where are you headed”.  My favorite response was “somewhere”.  No divulging the secret halibut hole!

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Iliamna is the prettiest of the four volcanoes in my opinion.  Looks a little like Denali on the water.

Rules for this day – you can keep two halibut each.  The first one can be as big as you can catch, but the second one has to be under 28 inches.  We are rocking and rolling on the open water, not too far from a rocky island and the fishing begins.

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Pat is working it!

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Here’s my big daddy – 40 pounds or so.  I could hardly hold it up after reeling it in.  They do some fighting on the way in!  Also sporting my four layer fashion and trying to avoid the blood.

Here’s my little one and my surprise of the day.  I caught a China Rock Fish.  It was so bright orange and beautiful when I first reeled it in.  The spines along the back made it look like a little dragon.  Pat caught a black one.  We got to keep them, too.  In the end we caught nine halibut between us and the two rock fish.  I was working another nibble, but we all got our limit and they made me reel it in so we could head back.

There were six people on our charter and one of the couples was from Canada.  Really nice, and they ended up giving most of their halibut to the rest of us since they couldn’t ship it home.  They took the cheeks – the “gold” as the locals say – and had a local restaurant scheduled to prepare them for their dinner.  The rest of us got the benefit of even more fish!  We kept the rock fish and three pounds of halibut for our little RV freezer and shipped 46 pounds of halibut to Pat’s mom and my sister.  Let the fish fries begin!  We actually had two of the rock fish fillets for dinner and they were delicious, and oh so fresh.

But our excitement is not over.  We are rocking and rolling and motoring back when the captain spots a pod of killer whales.  He maneuvers to get in their path.

There are at least six of them and they are surfacing and slapping their tales on the water.

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They ended up right off the end of the boat and scared our poor deck hand who was filleting our fish.  I joked to Pat before this trip that I needed to see a whale breach.  Yeah right.  Well, one of those whales did a breach right in front of the boat, rolled and gave us a great belly shot.  No picture of that, but a super memory and I got my whale breach.

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We noticed our deck hand, Trevor, checking the stomach contents of the bigger fish.  Why, we asked.  He says you never know what you’ll find since these bottom feeders eat interesting things.  Turns out that my big daddy halibut ate three crabs whole.  Amazing!

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The sea gulls became very attentive and followed us to get the scraps that Trevor tossed into our wake.

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A few more gull pics because I like them.

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A few views as we entered the harbor.  Such a great day!  My arms are tired, but I understand why people love to fish like this.  Such a thrill to feel those big fish yank on the line and realize you got ’em!

A big thank you to our new friends Steve & Julie from Oklahoma City.  They were camped next to us and offered to take Jackson out a few times so it wouldn’t be such a long day alone for him.  As usual, just what we needed, just when we needed it.

I’ve now washed all the fishy clothes and jackets and we’ve moved on.  Stay tuned for more stops on the Kenai Peninsula and the final few weeks in Alaska.  See you on the way!

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8 thoughts on “Homer Part 2 – Eagles & Halibuts & Whales, Oh My!

  1. LOVE the whales photos!!! When we did our Alaskan cruise a few years ago, I was going into one of the shops in town. There was a bald eagle on the sign of the building. I was sure the shop owners would want to see it. I ran in and told them about the eagle and they were like, “so…”. I was stunned by the reaction. Then the one guy said, “It would be like if I came to your house and told you I saw a dog in your yard.” He did not know of my dog claim to fame, but I got the reference.

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    • Yep, those eagles are a dime a dozen. Awesome to see them everywhere though. I didn’t expect them on the beach. Those whales were our added bonus. Never expected to see them so close. Better than if we’d taken one of the wildlife cruises.

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  2. Loving your trip!!! If you get a chance to stop again in Soldotna, there is a county museum that is really interesting to visit. It is free and is near the Funny River Road intersection. Kinda of behind the welcome center as the crow flys (or rather the Eagle)

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  3. Judy and Pat! thank you for part two! Homer seems like a perfect place! When I see a bald eagle in Florida it is a rare and beautiful experience, I can’t imagine seeing that many in one place!
    What a terrific experience seeing the whales, you are right, a paid wildlife cruise is never guaranteed too see what ya;ll saw! Fabulous photos by the way!

    And, what a fisherwoman you are! Congrats! I can almost taste that halibut! Would love to try the rock fish too!

    Keep the good stories flowing for the rest of us….and keep on truckin!

    Looking forward to the next stop!!

    Regards
    Sandra

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    • Hey Sandra! Thanks for the kind words. I’ll have another post in a bit. Taking a break and getting chores done. The halibut was quite tasty as was the China rockfish. The black one was a little fishier. Interesting.

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