June 20, 2015 Homer, Alaska

Cottongrass
Cottongrass

Wildflowers and Wildlife

Cottongrass
Cottongrass

Driving all the back roads above the city of Homer, I run across patches of wildflowers here and there, nothing like the fields of wildflowers you may find in the west, in the lower forty-eight, but still a visual treat when you do discover them. This is a particularly dense patch of cotton grass growing alongside the road, a very neat plant I was able to get some nice shots of very early in the morning before the breeze came up.

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

Cottongrass
Cottongrass
Columbine
Columbine

I really haven’t come across much Columbine, just a couple of plants here and there, again nothing like in the mountainside meadows of Colorado for instance.

Jacob's Ladder
Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium is starting to appear more frequently.

Impossibly Blue
Impossibly Blue

And this is not a wildflower, but some form of perennial that caught my eye in a bed next to East End Road. I am not sure what this impossibly blue flower is as I have never seen it before, and I used to pour theough all the perennial flower catalogs back when I managed almost a half acre of perennials at my art gallery.

Impossibly Blue
Impossibly Blue
Homer Perennial Bed
Homer Perennial Bed

Gorgeous flower in a very nicely designed perennial bed.

Lupines
Lupines
Lupines
Lupines

And then there is the lupine … everywhere it seems. Unlike back in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, here there is only one color, this blue, or perhaps purple. At least I have yet to find any other color here.

Boatyard Lupine
Boatyard Lupine

As I said, lupine, everywhere.

Virginis
Virginis
Fireweed Road
Fireweed Road

What I am patiently waiting for, here in Homer, is for the fireweed to start blooming. I think it is a real shame this wonderful plant is labeled as a weed because it is just a beautiful flower that fills the fields and roadsides here above Homer.

Fireweed Farm
Fireweed Farm

Thes two images kind of illustrate that point quite well, and just happen to be images taken on the back roads above Homer some twenty two years ago on my last visit here. I have actually been able to locate the fireweed farm location and would like to get an image to show the penalties of progress. That wonderful scene is now bisected with dirt roads leading to not so scenic homes breaking up the previous expanse of fireweed, and though I’m sure a lot of the plant still survives, the beauty of that particular landscape has fallen victim to progress.

Angry Beach Eagle
Angry Beach Eagle
Takeoff
Takeoff

I enjoy watching the antics of the bald eagles on the beach every morning while I have my coffee. This guy was doing his angry eagle walk up the beach heading directly at me until my neighbor came out and slammed his door only thirty feet from the eagle and scared him off. There used to be a woman who fed the eagles here on the Homer Spit for many years so a lot of these birds probably are somewhat accustomed to approaching humans looking for handouts, though now it is illegal to feed them.

Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls
Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls
Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls
Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls

As I walked around the boat harbor very early in the AM I was startled by the number of gulls on the breakwater there.

Ring-necked Pheasant and Chicks
Ring-necked Pheasant and Chicks

And this one really suprised me, what I am quite sure has to be a Ring-necked Pheasant mom and chicks feeding along the dirt road at the end of East End Road. I had no idea these birds could survive this far north.

Ring-necked Pheasant Chick
Ring-necked Pheasant Chick
Moose and Calf
Moose and Calf
Moose Calf
Moose Calf

And finally my daily dose of moose. This mom was feeding along the edge of the road and when I stopped to watch, her calf came struggling up through the deep grass behind her. As the cow continued to move forward and browse, her calf was having a really hard time trying to keep up with her movements. At first I thought maybe the tall grass and bushes were just so thick, and tall, that perhaps that was it’s problem.

Mom and Injured Calf
Mom and Injured Calf

But when they finally crossed the road, it became quite clear that the poor little guy had somehow broken, or severely injured his left hind leg and was hobbling along on three legs.

Moose Calf
Moose Calf

Barely one in three moose calves survive their first summer, most here on the Kenai fall victim to black bears or grizzlies, although there is also a growing presence of wolves in the area. Not being able to run or keep up with a protective mom probably will mean a short life for this guy. Mother Nature is cruel.

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June 18, 2015 Homer Spit, Alaska

Homer Spit Bald Eagle
Homer Spit Bald Eagle

On to Homer, Alaska

I awoke early, did a blog post while I knew I still had some kind of internet signal, never know if I will have one down the road, filled up with water, then found out the campground dump station is locked and then that they charge $15 to use it, that’s on top of the $30 a night for a primitive site, so I left Soldatna without dumping  around 10 AM. I had an uneventful 75 mile drive to Homer where I stopped to fill the propane tank at a whopping $4.50/gallon … ouch!

Temps steadily dropped as I headed south and were a refreshingly comfortable 65ish when I got to the Homer Spit around noon and checked into the beachfront Fishing Hole Campground.

Homer Spit Campground
Homer Spit Campground

Homer Spit Fishing Hole Campground

$95/week, or $15/night without any hookups but with a great view of Kachemak Bay and it’s gulls, seals, and bald eagles.

Homer Spit Campground
Homer Spit Campground

The campsites are crammed in side by side, on flat stone covered sites, but  within 25 feet of the high tide mark. The image above is the view to the south, over the large boat harbor, with the mountains across Kachemak Bay in the background.

Homer Spit Campground
Homer Spit Campground

And this is the view to the north, with the city of Homer in the background, and just a short walk down the beach is the famous Homer Spit fishing hole where you may be fortunate enough to cast a line and land a King Salmon or a little later on in the month a Silver Salmon.

With roaming enabled on my Verizon Jetpac, I was able to get 3 bars of 3G for the internet and could do blog posts early in the AM, but the signal faded out badly later in the day with traffic, I suppose, and by noon it was impossible to even check email. My over the air TV antenna on a  mast brought in 2-4 Anchorage stations, depending on the time of day and weather conditions.

Homer Spit Welcoming Committee

Homer Spit Bald Eagle
Homer Spit Bald Eagle

Now I would love to tell you how hard I worked to get this closeup of a gorgeous Bald Eagle, you know, hiking many miles up in the mountains to a remote lake and then stealthily stalking the bird until I got close enough to get a portrait like this with my 600mm lens. But the truth of the matter is this eagle attempted to land on the roof of the motorhome only a few hours after I set up camp here. I was working at the computer when I heard a thud, then frantic clawing on my collapsed satellite dish, followed by wing beats on the roof, then a dark object falling from the roof to a large driftwood stump on the beach to the side of my RV.

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

Homer Spit Bald Eagle
Homer Spit Bald Eagle

 

These shots were actually all taken from inside the motorhome while seated at my dinette/work station .. and taken with my short lens, the 18-200mm, through the glass window.

Homer Spit Bald Eagle
Homer Spit Bald Eagle
Homer Spit Bald Eagle
Homer Spit Bald Eagle

You just have to always be prepared around here, you never know when, or where, you may have the opportunity for a wildlife shot.

As we get close to the summer solstice, I find myself yearning for just a glimpse of a star filled night sky. This 24 hours of daylight takes a little getting used to. The sun doesn’t set until very close to midnight now and rises about 4 hours later so it never even gets close to being dark. The way the sun circles the sky is kind of neat. Here on the Homer Spit, I can watch the sun rise over Kachemak Bay out the right side of my windshield, and about 20 hours later almost see it set out of the left side of that same windshield, and that just really seems odd. The sun actually directly shines through the windows on all four sides of the motorhome at some point every day, not something you would ever encounter in the lower 48. Rather than simply rise in the east and set in the west, taking a direct overhead route through the sky, up here, at this time of year, the sun rises in the far northeast, then kind of circles the sky to set in the far northwest. No fiery sunrises or sunsets either, like you see in the winter desert. And, since there is no night sky, no northern lights to see, something I have never witnessed, but maybe if I’m lucky, by late August, or if I stay that long, early September, I might have a chance to finally see them.

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