July 6, 2015 Homer, Alaska

Moose Calf
Moose Calf

Scouting the Hills Above Homer

Took a trip out East End Road and then Olstead Mountain Road to the back side of the old Russian community and then to the mountaintop gravel pit, the road to which gives great panoramas of the surrounding area.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Finally Some Fireweed
Finally Some Fireweed

A hopeful sign, a bit of roadside fireweed finally coming into bloom. Unfortunately, the open fileds of this stuff seem to still be a couple of weeks from bursting into bloom.

More Moose Moms

Mom and Calf
Mom and Calf

I ran into a few momma moose with their calves on Skyline Drive this morning.

Lunch, Mom?
Lunch, Mom?
Road Crossing
Road Crossing
Road Crossing
Road Crossing

You need to keep an eye out for these guys when driving through residential areas as well as when travelling the back country roads.

Moose Enjoying Kachemak Bay Overlook
Moose Enjoying Kachemak Bay Overlook
Gardener's Nightmare
Gardener’s Nightmare
Not Your Run-of the-Mill Garden Pests
Not Your Run-of the-Mill Garden Pests

I’m not sure how a gardener would go about deterring this kind of garden pest, pretty dangerous to try and scare off a mother moose with calf.

Protective Mom
Protective Mom

If you are ever near a moose and calf and Mom assumes this posture, ears flattened and hair raised, you want to seek cover, retreat as quick as possible. This Momma moose had had enough of an iPhone photographer trying to get close enough to get a “good” shot. These guys ( gals) cause more injuries to humans in Alaska than do the fearful brown bears.

The Neighbors From Hell

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse around here, noisewise, the obnoxious family from across the road, whose constant racket was barely tolerable when they were 50 feet away,  decided to move into the beachfront spot next to me when the camper there moved out. Two kids, a beater fifth wheel and FIVE barking dogs. Wonderful couple in their 30’s with wife being about five foot tall, weighing in at around 200 pounds with wonderful full neck tattoos. They proceeded to set up their dog pound ( enclosure ) directly under my driver’s side window, then dragged out the absolute loudest 2000 watt generator in existence, cranked it up ( this is about 4 PM ), put it under the echo chamber that is the overhang of the fifth wheel, that happens to be about six feet from my bedroom window, turned it to direct it’s exhaust, and noise, in my direction, and then hauled their load of firewood to the fire ring in front of our sites. I’m sure that since they have ignored the existing all out burn ban on their previous site across the road, I’ll most likely be treated to some wonderful smoke filled hours this evening.

The generator roared on, vibrations from which actually could be felt in my motorhome, glasses chattering in the cupboard, until around 10:30 when it thankfully was turned off … so that they could hook up their incredibly loud diesel pickup to their rig and take it to the dump station. By 11 PM they were hooked up and the campground stunk to high heavens of idling diesel fumes. Well, they must have had a little trouble unloading at the dump station ( or maybe they just dropped their waste down the road on the beach or something, wouldn’t put it past these animals ), because they didn’t make it back to get reset up until almost midnight. And of course, being so late, they set up as quietly as possible, just kidding, if there was a door that could be slammed, or dogs that could be set out to bark, or kids, or Mom, that could scream out expletives, well, what could I expect.

Amazingly, since it was only a little past midnight, they did NOT start up the generator again, thought sure they would just have to do that, but I guess they were just too exhausted from their struggles and finally shut down and went to bed, thereby allowing the other 200 people here to also be able to at long last, get a little sleep.

Boxed in by the Neighbor From Hell
Boxed in by the Neighbor From Hell

The image above shows how these inconsiderate jerks left their truck hooked up when they moved back in at midnight, the truck now all but completely blocking the narrow road between sites and making it pretty much impossible for me to be able to manuever around them when backing out of my site, which I am definitely going to be trying to do in the morning.

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July 3, 2015 Homer, Alaska

Sunrise Over a Foggy Kachemak Bay
Sunrise Over a Foggy Kachemak Bay

Still Waiting for Fireweed in Homer

Yesterday morning we had an interesting red sun rising over a foggy, socked in Kachemak Bay. Don’t know if it was the fog or perhaps smoke blown in from the fires north of here that caused this brilliant red orange sun. Absolutely no color in the sky, but a very eerie sunrise.

Exploring the Back Roads Around Homer
Exploring the Back Roads Around Homer

Once again we have leaden, gray skies and overcast conditions with sunrise being the only time the sun is actually visible all day.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Exploring the Back Roads Around Homer
Exploring the Back Roads Around Homer

I continue to explore the back roads above Homer and even ventured out some logging roads off of the North Fork Road, hoping to find some fireweed in bloom, but it obviously is still just too early.

No Fireweed in Bloom yet
No Fireweed in Bloom yet

Have found some great vantage points for photos, if I can stay here long enough, and if the weather would ever cooperate. Those foreground plants are fireweed, with their flower stalks just beginning to form, and all those bright green patches on the distant hillside are fields of fireweed, just waiting to bloom and paint all those meadows a brilliant pink.

No Fireweed in Bloom yet
No Fireweed in Bloom yet

Guess I will continue to try and wait it out, though my 14 day limit here at the campground on Homer Spit has now been reached, and I’m not sure where I can go next.

Tidepools of Kachemak Bay

High Tide
High Tide
Low Tide
Low Tide

Kachemak Bay has the fifth largest tide swing in the world as the above two images illustrate. And since today was one of the lowest of the month’s low tides, I decided to venture out there at low tide and see what I could see.

Where is he going now?
Where is he going now?

My two traveling companions laid their normal quilt trip on me as I headed down the beach to slosh out to the low water mark, close to a quarter mile away.

Abandoned again!
Abandoned again!

Still amazed that at sixteen years of age, Jenny can still make the leap up to gain a perch on the windshield shelf.

Exploring the tide pools
Exploring the tide pools
Exploring the tide pools
Exploring the tide pools

As you can see, I wasn’t the only one that decided today would be a good day for tide pool exploration.

Starfish
Starfish

Once you got almost to the low tide mark, there was no stortage of starfish.

Stranded Crab
Stranded Crab

Other than starfish, this lone crab was about the only other creature I was able to find.

Starfish
Starfish

The starfish come in an assortment of colors and sizes.

Starfish
Starfish
Starfish
Starfish
Purple Starfish
Purple Starfish
Starfish
Starfish

In areas the seabed was covered with tiny dime sized mussels, but none any bigger. And as you approached the low tide mark, there was a lot of seaweed and kelp. Walking around on the consistently firm seabed wasn’t too bad, just a little slippery here and there.

Looking Back Towards camp
Looking Back Towards camp
Slogging Back to Camp
Slogging Back to Camp

Certainly an intertesting way to spend an hour or so on this rare, sunny morning, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed in not finding more to photograph out there. I have hopped around tide pools along the coast of Oregon and Washington and found a lot more variety of life in those pools than here.

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June 30, 2015 Homer, Alaska

Kachemak Bay Sunrise
Kachemak Bay Sunrise

Another Gloomy Week on the Homer Spit

Although there are brief periods of sun and bits of blue sky now and then, for the most part the skies are constantly gray and gloomy. I understand that this type of weather pattern is quite usual for this area, so what can one do but wait it out. Though the sun seldom appears, it also doesn’t actually rain all that much, no downpours whatsoever, just periods of light rain and drizzle.

I usually maintain a very solitary existence on my travels, but this past week plus I have had the distinct pleasure of being camped next to a delightful retired couple from South Dakota. I have enjoyed more small talk with them than I usually have in the course of several months on the road, and have gotten quite a kick out of watching and hearing about their fishing exploits here in Homer as they have fished for salmon and halibut. A lot of the salmon fishing was done directly in front of our motorhomes, while the halibut fishing was done on a charter where the Mrs. managed to haul in a sixty-two pounder. Had fun teasing him as she also landed the largest King Salmon at the Fishing Hole, down the beach from our campsites, seemed to outfish the man of the house at every opportunity. But today they broke camp and have moved on, and their replacement has definitely not lived up to them as far as great neighbors go, outside, ten feet away slamming doors at midnight and running one of the noisiest generators I have ever heard for hours on end. Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

You will have to forgive my constant barrage of bald eagle shots but they are about the only interesting subjects i have here on the Homer Spit.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
Coming of Age
Coming of Age

A few interesting facts about bald eagles can be found here, including the fact that they mature at four to five years old, which would make this guy more than likely than not, about four years old.

Immature Bald Eagle
Immature Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

I was walking around the marina and just happened to catch this juvenile as he lifted off. I haven’t really tried doing any flight shots of these guys here because of the constant mist and drizzle, but if it ever clears up, I may just set up my tripod and long lens right outside my door and try to get some images of the eagles as they fly by all day , and night, long.

Hills Above Homer
Hills Above Homer

Searching for Fireweed

The green fields such as in the image above will be turning pink sometime in the weeks ahead as the fireweed finally comes into bloom. I have been driving all the hillside roads above Homer and north all the way to Anchor Point hoping to find some fireweed patches blooming, but I’m beginning to feel it just isn’t going to happen while I am here. The flower stalks have been starting to form here and there, but I have only seen a couple individual plants here and there in full bloom. If you are going to be in this area in July, and are interested in knowing which roads will provide the best shots of these fields, just click on my Travel Maps to see my notes on these back roads.

Lupines and Roses
Lupines and Roses
Blue Flag Iris
Blue Flag Iris
Cottongrass Trail
Cottongrass Trail

While searching the countryside for fireweed I do continue to run into other wildflowers though.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

And also yet more bald eagles, this one perched on some fence rails left in the middle of a meadow that probably once was some kind of farm plot.

Bald Eagle Staredown
Bald Eagle Staredown

I believe this is his ” would you mind just leaving ” stare, obviously a little annoyed at my presence. This was taken from the window of my car with my 600mm lens, so I was not close enough to actually disturb him as he was on the lookout for any movement of prey in the field he was surveying.

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June 24, 2015 Homer, Alaska

Homer Spit From Skyline Drive
Homer Spit From Skyline Drive

Waiting it Out in Homer

( This is a little out of sequence, but I just noticed this older blog post never was published, so here it is. Better late than never. )

Not much to report or show here as I wait out a spell of poor weather here on the Homer Spit. In the image above, I am camped about two thirds of the way out on the Spit, on the beach, facing down towards the end of the bay ( to the left ). The combination of gray, overcast weather, the forest fires and their smoke in the areas that are next on my list of destinations, and the worry about traveling, and finding a place to camp, during the busy fourth of July holiday period, made me decide to just sit here on the Homer Spit and wait it out. The rainy weather should help the firefighters to bring the fires north of here under control and maybe the smoke will be cleared out by next week and I can proceed north through Anchorage and up to Wasilla and Willow. And since I am already camped in a pleasant location and can stay here through the holiday weekend, I have decided to do just that.

I haven’t been able to get out and do any photography with the lousy weather conditions so I have been plowing through my small library of paperbacks, three in the last five days.

Glaciers Across Kachemak Bay
Glaciers Across Kachemak Bay

I have been able to get a few shots from up on the Skyline Drive high above Homer, but unfortunately, the only time there have been any nice blue skies have been at the worst possible time of day for photos, only when the sun is high in the sky at midday. And even then there is still a heavy hazy air layer over the bay making the spectacular mountains and glaciers across Kachemak Bay impossible to clearly define. It seems every day when the light is best at dawn or duck, there is a marine layer of clouds and fog hanging over the bay and obscuring the mountains on the far side of the bay.

Kachemak Bay Pano
Kachemak Bay Pano

So for now, this is the best I can do with these breathtaking scenes, and I’m afraid it’s not very good. But, I still have a week to go, and maybe there will be some better conditions to come. I am also beginning to run out of hope that the fireweed will bloom in time for me to get any shots of the solid pink meadows above Homer

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Looking Down on East End Road
Looking Down on East End Road

I have to confess to being a fan of the Discovery Channel’s ” Alaska, the Last Frontier ” reality series. As any of you would know if you watch the series, the Kilcher family homesteads 600 acres along Kachemak Bay off of the East End Road outside of Homer, and the series shows all the joys and challenges of the homesteading life in the Alaskan wilderness. Well, it turns out that “wilderness” might just be a bit of a stretch. The image above pretty much shows what that wilderness looks like. After driving out to see if I could actually locate the Kilcher homestead, it turns out that one of the worst wilderness struggles the Kilcher family faces would be the often times heavy commuter and tourist traffic on the East End Road. Though a little disappointing to find out that they don’t actually live in some remote Alaskan wilderness, i think I’ll probably still continue to enjoy watching the show, they are a bunch of interesting folks.

Bald Eagle Portrait
Bald Eagle Portrait

My Daily Eagle Fix

Every day i am coaxed out my reading chair, rain or shine ( and it is mostly rain right now ), as the three or four resident bald eagles fly by, land on the beach in front of me, or do something else to grab my attention. Today, with a little blue sky above, I had only to walk around to the rear of my motorhome to catch this handsome individual perched atop a utility pole, keeping a hopeful watch on the fisherman cleaning their catch here in the campground.

Though it is illegal to feed the eagles, they sit up there and watch as the many gulls will occassionally fly up into the small dumpster provided for the fish remains, and grab a bit of fish. If the gull then lands in the parking lot instead of instantly flying away with his bit of fish, the eagle will swoop down from the pole and steal the gulls prize, fly off to devour it, then soon returns to his position atop the pole, waiting for the next opportunity to steal from the gulls.

Keeping an Eagle Eye on the Fish Cleaning Station
Keeping an Eagle Eye on the Fish Cleaning Station

Ben Franklin may have been right !

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