Hope, Homer, Seldovia

posted in: Alaska 2003 | 0

5:00 a.m.

Well the serenade of the creek was drowned out by the torrential rain pummeling the metal roof of our cabin. Finally, unable to sleep, I got up at 4:00, took my shower, got dressed and packed up. Turns out the downpour is just a light shower, amplified on the metal roof, and the creek makes it sound all the more torrential. I’m tempted to tell Jeanne, who’s never seen a moose, that one wandered by while I sat here on the covered porch of the cabin. Maybe one will.

We have a 6:00 departure so we can get to Homer and catch our boat to Seldovia, where we spend the night tonight. The word is it’s a quaint town. I wouldn’t say that about Hope. On our tour, we drove down the main street which, Patrick says, has appeared in a number of TV commercials. Apparently, at the Seaview Cafe, “they don’t take American Express.” Tomorrow night I hope to walk back down there and take photos. I hope it will stop raining by then, preferably much sooner. We were lucky yesterday; though it remained overcast all day, there was almost no rain after the morning. They say the wildlife makes a better show under cloudy skies, plus the blue of the glacier (from the blue eyes of the tiny ice worms that live just below the surface is the local joke they like to tell tourists; actually, it’s because of the highly compressed ice that traps all of the spectrum except blue) shows up better when it’s overcast.

11:00 a.m.

Sitting aboard the “Discovery,” our cruise ship from Homer to Seldovia. Sadly, it’s been a lousy day weather-wise. The drive from Hope was intermittently rainy with fog, so there were no views of mountains across Cook Inlet. We did see our first moose, a female. Breakfast was fix-it-yourself at the kitchen at Discovery Cabins (which are owned by Barb and Todd, the people who run Adventure Alaska Tours), and we packed sandwiches for lunch, which I’ll eat shortly. We stopped to take a quick look at the village of Ninilchik, and at the post office there so I could mail my postcards. From there, our next stop was Anchor Point, the westernmost point on the North American highway system. And then to Homer and directly to the “Spit,” a five-mile strip of land (actually the terminal moraine of the glacier) jutting into Kachemak Bay, where there was a little time to wander and shop before boarding the boat.

Early breakfast in Hope
On the drive from Hope to Homer

Two options for a meal

12:30 p.m.

We’re nearing Seldovia. Seen plenty of birds on this trip: bald eagles, cormorants, pigeon guillemots, gulls, puffins, kittiwakes, murres. AND, the mountains came out — some real serious clearing to the west. Mt. Ilimna and Mt. Redoubt are visible against bright blue skies. YAY!

Fishing in Katchemak Bay
Gull Island

Elephant Rock
he elephant raises its trunk


3:30 p.m.

We docked in Seldovia at 1:00 or so, watching the blue skies move ever closer. Walked the two short blocks to the Boardwalk Hotel, where we stay tonight.

After dropping off my stuff, I set off to explore Seldovia, armed with the free city map I picked up on the boat. This map, while it has a charm all its own (rather like the city it illustrates), is totally out of scale. I walked along Main Street to see what sort of quaint shops I’d find (not too many), and then decided to head toward the Otterbahn Trail. While the trail appears to be about twice the length of the (3 minute) walk from the boat dock to the hotel, it actually took about 45 minutes one way. The trail itself was nothing to write home about, but the view from the beach at the end of the trail was spectacular.

Main Street, Seldovia, Alaska USA
Otterbahn Trail

Seldovia Lagoon

Then, according to the map, it’s about as far along the beach to the road that leads back to town as the trail itself. That walk along the beach took about 5 minutes. I should’ve given up on trusting the map at that point, but I walked for a long time on the road back to town before I came to the cemetery (CITY CEMETARY, according to the map), a graveyard overgrown with wildflowers and labeled with what I think is the Russian Orthodox cross. I was also close to the airport, and when I looked up at an overhead plane just taking off, I saw 2 bald eagles right overhead. One flew over and I lost it; the other landed in a tree and sat for a while to pose for my photos.

From the cemetery back to town took five minutes, even though on the map it looked further than from the beach to the cemetery. Meanwhile, by the time I was halfway from the trailhead to the beach, I had shed both my jacket and my sweatshirt, and by the time I reached the beach, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I went back to the hotel and dropped off my extra clothing, grabbed my sunglasses, and came over to the Buzz Cafe, where I sit now, out back, drinking an iced latte. It’s kind of breezy, and there are windchimes clanging noisily. I’m overlooking the boat harbor, where I just watched the Discovery depart for its return to Homer. I’ll go walk in another direction soon to explore a different part of this town, but for now it’s just so nice sitting here enjoying the breeze and the sun.

5:45 p.m.

I now think I’ve seen all there is to see in Seldovia. There is some charm, but most of it seems to be faded away. Many places for sale, many closed businesses, just not much here anymore. I’m sitting on a dock across from Buzz Cafe and the Boardwalk Hotel. I can see the window of our room from here. There’s not much activity in the harbor. A few fishermen, but not many, and no big wheelbarrows full of fish like we saw in Seward.

Apparently, before the 1964 earthquake Seldovia was made up primarily of boardwalks. There’s just one left in what they call the historic area; the rest were destroyed.

Near there is Seldovia Slough, and while the tide comes in, people fish off a bridge that crosses it. There were king and chum salmon. They drop the hook, baitless, and attempt to snag the fish. No one caught anything while I was there.

Seldovia Slough

Catholic Church

Dinner is at 6:30 in a restaurant called the Mad Fish, so I’m just killing time til then. Lots of eagles around here. Earlier one was being chased by a gull. Maybe I’ll walk up to the bridge again and see if anyone’s still there fishing.

9:15 p.m.

One thing I never expected to do on this vacation was wander the beach collecting sea shells. (Another was swimming in the ocean.) But here I am in Seldovia, looking west toward the sun that, while low in the sky, has no intention of setting anytime soon. There are some clouds, but at the moment the sun is reflecting brightly off the water of Cook Inlet (or is this Kachemak Bay? I’m not sure where one ends and the other begins). Now that the sun has momentarily ducked behind a cloud, I’d have to say it’s still a good 20 degrees above the horizon. There are some more clouds far off on the horizon, and I hope they won’t bring rain or overcast in the morning, so we can have a great flight back to Homer with some excellent views.

Dinner at the Mad Fish was trying really hard to be elegant but didn’t really succeed. I had salmon with an olive tapenade that was good, but I’ve had better salmon simply grilled. For dessert I had mixed berry crisp that was just okay. Everyone had raved about the ice cream at the Sweet ‑n- Clean, a combination ice cream parlor and laundromat. I had gone in before dinner and found out that they were open til 9:00, so I promised I’d be back after dinner. But I was really full. So I went in and told her I was back and she asked, “How was dinner?” and I said, “Good, but I’m stuffed.” So she said, “Then what are you doing here?” I said, “I promised you I’d be back!” So she gave me a children’s scoop for a buck.

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