Friday, August 30, 2019

On the way to Homer, Alaska

“I had forgotten how beautiful Alaska is,” my husband Larry exclaimed as we started the drive from Anchorage to Homer. He’s right--the majestic mountain scenery does not disappoint.
Driving from Anchorage to Homer, Alaska
Having cruised the Inside Passage in Alaska many years ago (a trip everyone should take once in a lifetime!), we wanted to explore new places on this recent journey. Driving to the southwestern tip of the state seemed like a good place to start.

 We headed south from Anchorage along the Seward Highway before picking up the Sterling Highway. Much of this route follows the Kenai River. The salmon had just started to run, and we saw people fishing in boats and waders.
A perfect 72 degree day with blue skies and sunshine provided our introduction to this region. The drive could be done in 4.5 hours, but we were on the road for double that time as we stopped to take in the sights at scenic lookouts such as volcanoes across Cook Inlet.
Our first long stop was at Kenai National WildlifeRefuge, a popular visitor attraction not too far from Anchorage. Here you can get close to bull moose, wolves, foxes, bison, elk, caribou, deer, porcupines, and much more.
Elk at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Designed as a sanctuary for preserving wildlife, the center offers guided tours (but you can easily walk the paved trails on your own), enrichment programs, research, and quality care for abandoned or needy animals.
Visitors can walk on this raised path and view wildlife below.
One of the brown bears we saw
from the raised path.
A highlight was the center’s new raised bridge and pathway that allows visitors to observe and photograph wildlife roaming below without the encumbrance of fences. The most thrilling event, of course, was watching several brown bears amble by, munching on berries to fatten up before winter comes.

Forests on either side of the highway added another dimension to the landscape. Bright fuchsia fireweed flowers decorated fields along the way. Since roadsides are not mowed, wildflowers are able to flourish naturally.
After an impromptu lunch of elk and caribou brats purchased at the Wildlife Center and devoured later beside Summit Lake, we continued driving past Turn Again Arm and Cook Inlet. This stretch of highway is one of the most beautiful in all of Alaska.

Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik
Just for curiosity, we stopped at Ninilchik, a small village with a notable Russian Orthodox Church and cemetery. The location gave us another great look at Chigmit Mountains and Iliamna Volcano on the other side of the Inlet.
Puffin cabin outside Homer that we stayed in for four nights.
Eventually, we arrived at Kenai Peninsula Suites, a few miles outside Homer and our home for the next four days. Constructed like a yurt with a circular roof that comes to a peak at the top (to let in light and let smoke out in the old days), our cabin was well-equipped with a modern bedroom on the ground floor and living room, kitchenette, and bathroom on the second floor.

Large circle at the top of the ceiling
in our yurt-designed cabin.

Another outstanding view of the bay and mountains greeted us in back, along with native flora and blooming wildflowers. We  didn’t  need the fire pit since the weather was so warm, but we shared a peaceful sigh as the serene calmness of this place settled in at sunset.
View from behind the cabin. Fireweed was in full bloom.
Good thing, too, because our next couple of days would be filled with exhaustive adventures and exciting memories.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


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