Sunday, May 31, 2015

Anchorage to Homer, May 30, 2015

Forecast for Southcentral Alaska for the last weekend in May -- constant sun, and the warmest temperatures yet this year. It only made sense to go to Homer and walk along the Spit with Kachemak Bay in the foreground, and mountains and glaciers in the distance.

On the way out of Anchorage we stopped by the post office near the library to mail a box -- the fountain was on, which has been a rare occurrence. Perhaps it was because there were festivities at Cuddy Park behind the library, but tempting as that was, we had Homer on our map.

Turnagain Arm, with a little surf lapping at the shore as the tide goes out. We didn't see sheep today, only an eagle or two, and just glimpses of the hooligan fisher people. Hooligan, or "euchalon" are small smelt-like fish that come up Turnagain Arm in great numbers in the spring. People catch them and can or smoke them -- or as one guy was telling me yesterday, just eat them all up. We'll try to get photos on the way home tomorrow. We did see a pair of swans just east of Portage on the Placer River Overflow, and plenty of tour buses (all coming from Seward?), the train from Seward, and a moderate number of RVs. Definitely summer, but early still.

Among the people on the road today were dozens of cyclists between Girdwood and Hope Junction. They were impressive: some rode 110 miles -- from Girdwood to Hope itself, and back, to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. This is a rest stop at Twenty-Mile River, about 12 1/2 miles from Girdwood, and the turn-around point for the riders who were doing a 25-mile trek.

Going up the hill from Ingram Creek to Turnagain Pass (an elevation gain of about 950 feet), cyclists had to go through road construction. The haze in the photo is dust kicked up by the machinery.

Once at the Pass, the cyclists had fresh air and mountains, blue sky, and sunshine. This is Turnagain Pass rest area, with refreshments for the cyclists, and the turnaround point for the 50-mile riders.

It's too early for salmon fishing on the Kenai River, but not for rafting. A popular spot for launching rafts is the flat beach where the river flows out of Kenai Lake. The sky was a clear blue everywhere today, and the greens intensely green.

New grass and dandelion puffs, Soldotna.

Mt. Redoubt, from near Clam Gulch. Its most recent eruption was from March 15, 209 to about July 2009. The ash clouds shut down Anchorage's airport for a day or so, and later dumped ash on Homer and the area. No steam today; all was quiet.

South of Soldotna, spring was arriving later than in Anchorage. This stand of trees, on the bluff overlooking Cook Inlet at Mile 140 is always one of the last to leaf out, and one of the first to go bare in the autumn.

It's summer in Alaska, and no matter what the state's budget woes, there's road construction and the delays that go with it.

We left Anchorage earlier than usual and tried to make good time to get to Homer before the Saturday Farmers' Market closed at 4:00 p.m. And we did get there before 4:00 p.m., but the Market had closed at 3:00.

We saw charming planters; and a jeweler, Claire O'Donnell, very kindly stayed late to let me find earrings that I liked.

It's tulip season, and the Homer Bookshop's black ones were the most outstanding.

Inside the store, they had fringed demonic tulips back by the coffee shop.

Land's End Hotel had blowsy sun-struck yellows and reds, with the shiny petals beloved of Dutch still-life artists.

An octopus-painted bench at the Homer Bookstore.

The Rainbow Connection tour boat at dock in the Homer marina. This was the boat that King Harald of Norway took to Seldovia on his visit to Kachemak Bay this past week.

Kayaks for rent at the marina.

It's not Homer without a gull (or more likely, several hundred).

Raven on an up-ended driftwood pole.

Jim with his chocolate ice cream wafer cone (made fresh today) at Frozen Bear Ice Cream on the Spit. No matter what other services or goods it offers, every other business in Homer will also take you out on a charter fishing trip. Frozen Bear was no exception.

If you don't want to rent a charter, it's always possible to fish from the beach at Land's End.

Once you've caught your fish, then you have to clean it (or pay someone to do that for you). Along the Spit are public areas where the city provides tables, sinks, and places to dispose of the leavings. They are well protected by wire and plastic from the gulls and eagles who would like to share.

Driftwood and docks, at Land's End.

Bonfire at Bishop's Beach this evening, taken from the hotel window so it's a bit blurry. That's how light it was at 11:00 p.m.

Full moon above Kachemak Bay, 11:35 p.m.

Pale grape hyacinths hiding under the shrubbery.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 20, 2015 -- Anchorage -- Coastal Trail, Ship Creek, and Government Hill

Anchorage skyline from Brown's Park on government Hill.

Flowers along the curb at a Government Hill house.

Near the Port of Anchorage, goods are piling up in lots that have been empty all winter. Monster tires, construction equipment, pipes, containers -- all are waiting to be shipped up north to the cities along the coast.

Along the Coastal Trail, all manner of transportation . . .

wheeled skis . . .

Segways and bicycles . . .

inline skates  . . .

A woman was out on the mudflats with a kite.

Other people were on the sandy beach by Fish Creek.

We saw mallards, and a few scaups (not sure if this is Greater Scaup or Lesser).

Buds are about to burst on the crabapples.

An odd ship, with Mt. Susitna in the background.

Green grasses gradually overtaking last year's golden brown.

On Government Hill . .. .

Friday, May 29, 2015

May 28, 2015 -- Anchorage spring

A tulip against a backdrop of last year's leaves.

Seen from my office, the tour buses in front of the Captain Cook collecting people and luggage to take them to the next stage of their journey. A few years ago, the companies switched out all of their colorful buses for herds of these white featureless beasts. I would worry about getting on one and suddenly finding that I was on my way to Patagonia rather than Palmer -- there's no way to tell from the outside.

A pickup in the Providence Hospital parking lot this afternoon (we were there to see a friend) with painted cutouts of military men.

Robin with a big insect for dinner -- I can't tell what it is. The wings look like a dragonfly's, but the body is much too heavy. Nonetheless, it looks that robin will be well fed.

People eating on the patio at the Millenium Hotel. Perfect weather for it -- a little cool, not many bugs if you're away from the trees and water.

Float plane doing "touch and goes" at Lake Spenard.

More bugs today -- this cloud of them is whirling above a patch of water, thick enough to be caught by the camera.

The nicest no-parking sign on Lake Spenard.

Red maple, green pine.

A month ago, all of these trees were bare, and you could see the mountains. Not complaining, just marveling at how quickly things change.

Flamingo in the raspberries, at a friend's home.

Clivia blooming at Providence Hospital.

Tulip at Providence Hospital.