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Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Homer: Fishing and Bears!

 On Friday, 7/15, we departed Seward and drove 163 miles to our next destination, Homer, at the very tip of the Kenai.

As per what has become the normal circumstances, it was drizzly and on the cool side. It was still a beautiful drive up through the mountains surrounding Seward, then through the Kenai River area, which was lush and beautiful with the color of the Kenai River unbelievable - no place to really stop with our rigs to take pictures - and then along the northern coast of the peninsula. 

Once we were settled into our campground, it was mandatory to jump in the vehicles and head down to the marina to find the dock for Big Dan's Fishing Charters, the company they booked their overnight trip with. We found it and the boat, The Double Down, that they will be fishing from. 

They had to pose in front of the boat.

As we were walking around the floating docks, we saw this adorable sea otter. He would dive down and come back up with a crab. Listen closely and you'll hear the shell cracking as he's eating it.

The famous Salty Dawg Saloon on the Homer Spit. The history from its website:

The Salty Dawg started out as one of the first cabins built in 1897, soon after Homer became a town site. It served as the first post office, a railroad station, a grocery store, and a coal mining office for twenty years. In 1909 a second building was constructed, and it served as a school house, post office, grocery store. And at one time, it housed three adults and eleven children.

It was acquired in the late 1940’s by Chuck Abbott to be used as an office for Standard Oil Company. In April of 1957, he opened it as the Salty Dawg Saloon. The late 1950’s produced a change for the Salty Dawg Saloon by joining this building to it.

The Alaska Territory became the 49th state of the union in January 1959.

Earl Hillstrand, the late State Representative, purchased it in 1960. After the March 1964 “Good Friday” earthquake, he moved the structure to its present location. The distinctive lighthouse tower was added to cover a water storage tank, thus completing one of Homer’s more historical and recognizable landmarks.

The Salty Dawg Saloon that we know today is owned and operated by John Warren.

Lots of boats of all types along the Homer Spit. This is just one section. 
So....what is the "Spit"?
Homer Spit, Homer, Alaska

The Homer Spit (Dena'inaUzintun) is a geographical landmark located in Homer, Alaska on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula. The spit is a 4.5-mile (7.2 km) long piece of land jutting out into Kachemak Bay.[1] The spit is also home to the Homer Boat Harbor. The harbor contains both deep and shallow water docks and serves up to 1500 commercial and pleasure boats at its summer peak.[1] Additional features and attractions include  The Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon, which is an artificial "fishing hole", campgrounds, hotels, and restaurants and the Salty Dawg Saloon, which is constructed out of several historic buildings from Homer. Hundreds of eagles formerly gathered there in winter to be fed by Jean Keene, the "Eagle Lady".[2] The Spit features the longest road into ocean waters in the entire world, taking up 10–15 minutes to cover by car.[3] (Wikipedia)

The next day was my personal highlight of the trip, the activity I've been looking forward to since we started planning this trip back in 2016. We were flying from Homer via seaplane to Katmai National Park, home of Brooks Falls and grizzly bear extravaganza every July when the salmon start swimming upstream. The bears come down to feed as they are able to bulk up pretty quickly for the long winter to come. It was absolutely fascinating, amazing, and any other superlative you can think of. 

We flew with Bald Mountain Air Services in a 10-passenger DeHavilland single-engine Otter seaplane. I researched many different companies and their aircraft and chose this one based on their safety record and the safety record of this type of seaplane. I ended up being even more grateful that I chose this particular company as they were the only ones able to fly out that particular day due to weather. The smaller aircraft were not able to fly. It was rainy and foggy, and, yes, I was a tad apprehensive about the whole thing. It was an hour and a half flying time, and for the most part, all we saw was clouds surrounding us. It broke a little as we got close to Brooks Lake, where we landed, as you can see in the next picture. 

Land sighting!
We were very lucky in that it did not rain at all over there, just a light misting from time to time. The rain and fog kept smaller flights from going over and nothing from Anchorage either, so there were very few people there that day. Normally there can be up to a 2-hour-or-longer wait time to enter the viewing platform, and then your time was limited to a half hour. Only 40 people at a time are permitted on the platform. There was no wait, never more than 29 people there, and we were able to stay for a good two hours watching the bears. It was so interesting to stay that long in that we were able to actually figure out the dynamics of the group of bears and the relationships between them. It was an amazing day, ranking as one of the most memorable experiences in my lifetime.

There is a live webcam where anyone can watch the action occurring at


The next day was unplanned, basically just doing a little sightseeing and the guys getting prepared for their overnight trip. We had heard an area called Anchor Point was usually pretty good for seeing eagles, so we headed that way. 

Again, a wet day, but eagles still manage to look regal though rumpled.

This was very interesting at Anchor Point. The tides are so extreme that they use tractors to launch and reload fishing boats. I couldn't believe how far out in the water the tractor goes. The boat also approaches pretty quickly as well!

Tractor on the way out.

Boat approaching. I can't believe how far in the water the tractor is.

Boat gets hooked up to tractor.

Tractor hauls boat up the beach to the parking lot.

Eagles, mature and juvenile

In flight with mountain backdrop.

So finally fishing day arrives. Unfortunately, it's pretty windy and drizzly. The guys head down to the dock, and we awaited word on what was going to happen. I was really hoping it didn't get canceled as Al was looking forward to this as much as I was looking forward to the bears. The captain decided they would give it a go, trying to stay out of the weather as much as possible. So they didn't get to go out quite as far as they had hoped, but the trip was on. They figured the first day might not be so good, but they'd give it hell the next day when the wind laid down. Imagine my surprise when I got a call around 10:30 the next morning that they'd be in by lunchtime. Not because of weather, but they had their limits of fish already. 

Dan with a prized yelloweye rockfish.

My brother Bill with his 110-pound halibut.

Our 3 fishermen with the boat's catch.

Their actual catch for the 3 of them.

The fish is handed over to the fish cleaners, and then the haul is sent over to the processors where it's cut into approximately 1-pound pieces, flash frozen, and vacuum sealed. I think it came out to about 240 pounds of fish altogether.

Our last day in Homer, we visited the Alaskan Maritimes (Islands and Oceans) National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center. It was a very interesting exhibit and had a nice nature walk out back that goes through the marshlands to Bishop's Beach. The tides are so extreme that at low tide you can walk pretty far out. Cody enjoyed running around on the sand when the tide was out!

We also took a ride on the East End Road, running along the south coast east until the road ends. There were some nice views of Kachemak Bay and the coves on the far side....what we could see around clouds!

One last thing we did but I don't have any pictures of is visit the Norman Lowell Art Gallery in Anchor Point. It was beautiful. I was fascinated with the art created by Norman Lowell. Sadly, his work is definitely out of my price range! But I loved walking slowly through the gallery, marveling at the talent. What was even more amazing to me, in 2013, after battling glaucoma, he was declared legally blind. He continued working through 2017, utilizing increasingly stronger arrays of lighting, until the point where his final works were done purely from memory.  More information about the gallery and pictures of a few 0f his works can be found here: https://www.normanlowellgallery.org/

Overall, I really liked Homer. I would like to see it someday in nice weather, and there are a few things I wanted to do and see that just weren't going to be enjoyable with the weather we had. At least we had about a 4-hour window of sun so that I was able to get the beautiful photo that is now my blog header.

We then headed to our next destination, Soldotna, and the final fishing of the trip: river fishing on the Kenai River.


  1. Absolutely fascinating watching the bears! What a fabulous trip you had 😊.

  2. Karen I can't even imagine anything more wonderful than spending two hours watching those bears. You probably have the weather to thank for so much time. I am so envious. Your pictures are spectacular!!

    What will each guy do with 80 pounds of fish?? And they went out the next day.