Nathan Beside a Fake Salmon
Nathan Beside a Fake Salmon

Not a real salmon in case you were wondering.

So yeah. The power just went out. Not cool power company. At this point you might be wondering what this has to do with our trip to Homer. Nothing. It has absolutely nothing to do with Homer. But I just lost a lot of work and I want to share my misery with everyone else. Everything would have been fine, no big deal you know, if I hadn’t been so far into writing this post. And it was going along quite well I might add. What’s that you say? Automatic backup? Not this time!

Phew! Five lines completed. Just gonna go up here and click the “Save Draft” button, just in case…

Yes! Success!

Well I guess all was not lost though. Wait, yes it was. But at least I learned a valuable lesson. I think it would now be good practice moving forward to save a draft after each and every line I write. Excuse me one second, let me just save draft real quick. For best results save draft twice after each line. If I can manage to maintain this pace, I should have a thousand word post up and ready (complete with pictures) by midsummer next year.

Anyway, enough bellyaching from me for now. In all seriousness, I really have no reason to complain at all. Apart from the inconvenience, (and a small one at that) I have a computer and I have electricity. Being upset that my continual flow of electricity was somehow interrupted, really shows me just how much I take for granted. It’s science. It’s harnessing the power of electrons and using it to do incredible things that people only a few centuries ago had no idea about. Hold on another sec, I have to save draft twice.

Now, moving on to the trip. The plan was to take off last Thursday, right after the final children were picked up from daycare. We had packed up all the camping gear that day so we would be ready. When I say “we” I really mean Vanessa packed up all the gear. Mostly because she is the household sorter, and knows where everything is stored. But partly because she knows if I was in charge I wouldn’t do anything but stand around asking her where everything was anyway. But let’s not point any fingers.

After quickly doing our evening chores, we buckled the children into their car seats, grabbed a few last minute items and set off to swap out vehicles and gear with Vanessa’s parent’s minivan. Surprisingly, we managed to stay somewhat on schedule. In other words, we weren’t running grossly behind as usual. Unfortunately though, we basically live as far across town as you can get from the Seward Highway which leads south, out of Anchorage.

Everything was going perfect up to this point. We were sticking to the plan. The weather didn’t look exceedingly horrid, although we both knew that could change at any time. The children were happily snacking on some Chex Mix in the back since we knew they would have a late dinner of roasted hotdogs and s’mores once we reached the campground and started a campfire. But most importantly, they weren’t at each others throats. That’s a win no matter how you look at it.

But then we passed Potter Marsh…and everything went south. Actually it went southeast because that’s the way the road goes. Get it? Seriously, I crack myself up.

Honestly though, saying the weather turned sour would be an understatement. I have never seen the wind blow as hard along the Turnagain Arm as it did that evening. And you can’t have bed weather without rain. All I can say is, I was glad I wasn’t hauling a trailer or driving a motor home. You can see it in the pictures below, there was actually a layer of mist over the ocean driven up by all the wind.

Turnagain Arm Weather

See this craziness? The pictures don’t do it justice. It was out of control.

Turnagain Arm Weather

We even saw a small waterspout right outside of Girdwood. I’m sure that wasn’t technically what it was, but there was sea spray spinning in a circle over the water so I’m going with it. I would have included the picture here but it didn’t come out very clear. Come to think of it, I could probably say anything I want, followed by the phrase, “I would have included the picture here but it didn’t come out very clear.”

“Hey guys, I just saw bigfoot and took a picture of him. I would have included the picture here but it didn’t come out very clear.” I like this idea. I will use this idea.

Gradually the weather settled down as we rounded the arm, and began heading south up into the mountains of the Chugach National Forest. Remember this area, because I have some things to say about it later. And not nice things.

It wouldn’t be much further to the campground at Bertha Creek where we would be staying the first night. By now we were protected from the crazy winds of the Turnagain Arm, and there was only a slight drizzle. We reached the campground at about 8:30 that night and began setting up camp. Why did it take us so long to reach Bertha Creek? That’s a really good question, and one I would love to answer. Let me start by saying that the speed limit on the Seward Highway is 65 m.p.h. (105 k.p.h) Now let me also tell you that slow vehicles are supposed to pull off into one of the many, many vehicle turnouts conveniently located all along the highway if there are 5 or more vehicles behind them.

Backed Up Traffic

I…don’t, I can’t…I just, ugh.

This way, traffic doesn’t back up on account of mister slow poke who’s driving his 1962 Datsun Bluebird (totally random example) at the speed of molasses. Said person can then simply pull off the highway and let the line of cars piling up behind him pass so everyone’s happy. Well apparently someone ahead of us didn’t get that memo. Not only did they skip every single turnout, but they managed to achieve speeds in excess of a whopping 25 m.p.h. (40 k.p.h.)

I kid you not, there must have been at least a hundred cars being held up. And I hate to say this, but I can guarantee you that nearly every one of those drivers were just itching to find out who was causing such a delay, so they could speed past them while issuing a friendly Alaska one finger wave. Now granted, the weather was bad and I understand that. Better safe than sorry, but this situation was on a whole different level. In conclusion, I think whoever was holding up the show must have been a tourist who didn’t understand the rules even though they are clearly posted in numerous places along the highway. And that’s why we had a really late dinner. So the verdict for this leg of the trip: delayed

Once we finally got to the nearly empty campground, and decided on our spot, things went quite smooth for the rest of the night. Vanessa jumped on tent duty while Nathan and I fiddled around starting a fire. I even got to put my not so professional wood splitting skills into use to chop some fire wood. And guess what, I still have all ten toes.

After the camp was set, it was time to finally relax and eat dinner. We sent Nathan on a scouting mission, which he dutifully set off to do, and quickly came back to camp with a couple small tree branches for roasting the hotdogs. Macaroni salad, potato salad, smoky wieners (tee-hee), and barbecue chips were the fare for the evening. After everyone had their fill, including s’mores, the food was safely packed away into the vehicle, (don’t want any hungry bears snooping around) we all passed out for the night. Tomorrow would be another long day.

Bertha Creek Campground Fire

Bright and somewhat early the next morning we were graciously awakened by the grating noise of a couple of magpies who were apparently having an argument amongst themselves. Thanks magpies. If you’re going to carry on squawking with each other, at least have the decency to take it more than ten feet away from our tent. Try to be a little more considerate next time birds.

Our big plan was to get Nathan’s clapping done, breakfast served, and have the campsite packed up and ready to go by 10:30 in the morning. Amazingly, we achieved this feat. Now let me share with you my thought process. I know, it can be dangerous when I get to thinking about things but try and bear with me here.

Here’s how the math should have broken down. We had roughly 150 miles (241 kilometers) to go until we reached Homer. The wedding was scheduled for 2:30 that afternoon. No problem I thought to myself, 4 hours should be plenty of time. After all, even if we averaged 60 m.p.h. (96 k.p.h) that’s about two and a half hours of driving.

If my math was correct, which it usually isn’t, that should have given us an hour and a half to spare. Plenty of time to stop for a quick lunch or any bathroom breaks that would be required. But apparently time functions differently on the Seward Highway. That, and I continually forget to take into account the various towns dotting the highway where the speed limit is severely reduced. Anyway, to make a short story long, we found ourselves gradually falling behind schedule. And to top it all off, maybe an hour out of Homer, the dreaded road construction monster struck.

To be honest, it didn’t set us back all that much, but it was enough to make me question whether we would actually get to the wedding on time. Finally, after what seemed like ages (probably only 10 minutes tops) the construction worker turned the sign from stop to slow and we were allowed to proceed.

Fast forward about forty-five minutes and we were heading down the long hill into Homer. It was amazing how close we were cutting this. Ridiculous would be the appropriate word here I think. Left at the street light, up the hill, and right at the three way stop and we were almost there. Can you tell I’m rushing this part of the story? Anyhow, we pull into the parking lot of the church with no joke, 3 minutes to spare. Good thing the wedding started late, because we all had to change into something more appropriate for a wedding. So the verdict for this leg of the trip: delayed

I’ll skip most of the details of the wedding because, well let’s face it, I’m a guy and that should explain everything. Here’s all you need to know. Vanessa’s cousin Vincenzo (that’s not really his name, I just think it’s funny. Plus, it keeps his anonymity) wedded his wife and they were married. I got to visit with Vanessa’s cousins, and that was nice because I hadn’t seen them in a couple of years. Plus, and this is a big one, the food at the reception was quite good. The chipotle raspberry spread in particular was awesome. Also, the ravens flying around were super noisy. Again, rude birds.

After the reception, Vanessa and I decided it was time to grab some food for dinner and finally check out our housing arrangement. Another added bonus, the grocery store had five dollar Fridays! If you live in Anchorage and shop at Carrs, you’ll know what this means.

With food in hand, we finally arrived where we would be staying, and let me tell you we were not disappointed. The apartment I guess you could call it was located behind and above a bookstore/Thai restaurant and featured a beautiful view of Kachemak Bay. It had everything one could need for a weekend; dishes, pans, silverware, futon, cable t.v. You name it, it was there.

The best part though, was the hot tub located on the deck outside. It was calling our names, and rest assured, we all made good use of it. What a perfect way to wear the children out! Not to brag, but they slept like little angels that night. Oh, and we took a nice walk on the beach as well, but that doesn’t really matter. Just some useless information I thought I’d share.

Hot Tub

Hot tub. Hot tub. Hot tub!

I am thoroughly convinced that the farther south you head in Alaska, the quicker time goes by. Saturday was a perfect example of this weird phenomenon. Let me start at the beginning. I woke up at 5:30 a.m. which was utterly unnecessary. I never wake up that early. Well sometimes I do, but I go right back to sleep. Not this time though. It wasn’t going to happen.

So I’m blaming it on some sort of alternate hippy time, which I’m pretty sure is running out of control down in Homer. Since I obviously wasn’t going to fall asleep again, I turned on the television to watch some cable programming. High quality entertainment right?

We don’t have cable at our home in Anchorage and I was looking forward to watching something different for a change. Being that I was the only one not sleeping, I could finally be in charge of what to watch; possibly something educational like Destination Truth, or Sharknado.

But here’s the thing. I didn’t realize just how many commercials there are now days. I don’t know if I can completely describe my amazement with the inordinate amount of stupid commercials that were going on. And last time I checked, cable isn’t cheap. I found myself at a lack of words as commercial, after commercial just kept rolling on. So here’s my theory. I think if you watch cable long enough, you might actually catch part of a show. Albeit probably only in 5 minute segments sandwiched between 10 minute mini commercial marathons.

Here’s the good news though, I now know the twenty-two different prescription drugs I need to be taking. And get this, the benefits actually do outweigh the risks. Who cares if my leg falls off, at least my heartburn isn’t as bad as it used to be.

So the point of all this is that perhaps I zoned out or became partially hypnotized watching all the ads on t.v. and before I knew it, it was already nearly noon. Somehow I had fed the kids breakfast (blueberry muffins, eggs, and sausage) and clapped Nathan. Vanessa was awake now and ready to go, so that could mean only one thing. It was time to go visit people. Yay…

I won’t even attempt to bore you with the details of the day, but let’s just say our plans to visit the spit and check out a couple well known pizza places didn’t happen. I don’t know where all the time went, but it wasn’t where it should be. It probably got lost somewhere between the park that the kids played at, and the top of the mountain we were driving on at the time. And it was well past the time we usually start Nathan’s treatment.

Visiting the spit would have to wait until the next day. So the verdict for this day: plans delayed

Nathan on the Beach

Sunday morning turned out to be a super nice day, so in a way it was better that we didn’t go driving around the spit on Saturday evening. The tide was way out revealing a beautiful stretch of soft sand that we were most definitely going to check out. Tons of gulls were swooping here and there, doing whatever it is that gulls do. We didn’t know what their thing was at the time, but we quickly figured it out.

If I had to guess as to what type of gulls were hanging around the beach, I would have to say they were Glaucous-winged Gulls. Periodically, one would swoop down and nab something from off the wet sand. I didn’t pay much attention at first, but then Vanessa pointed out that they were scooping up little fish from somewhere. I don’t know what the deal is with those little fish, but for some reason or another, they would sort of materialize from nowhere and start flopping around.

The sun would then reflect off their silver scales, alerting the gulls to their location. I think they must somehow bury themselves in the sand to stay hidden, and possibly pop out when the tide starts coming in. Whatever, I don’t really care why, I’m not a fish. The gulls loved it though.

Nathan and Margaret at the Beach

I would say I’m getting close to wrapping this whole blog post up, but I just know that isn’t quite the case. I’ll try and be succinct, but who am I kidding, I type more than Vanessa talks. The previous night, Vanessa and I decided we wanted to have some extra time on Sunday to do whatever, such as walk around on the spit and hang out on the beach.

The problem with that however, is that it had been decided that Vanessa’s grandmother would be joining us for the ride back to Anchorage, and we were supposed to pick her up in Anchor Point about 12:30 Sunday afternoon. That wouldn’t leave us much time to do any of things we wanted. So Saturday night, Vanessa gives her dad a call (since he would be attending church with all the other family) and let’s him know the new plan.

We would simply pick up Vanessa’s grandmother from in town, whenever she got back. That way nobody would be rushing around needlessly. Well that obviously would have been to easy, because no one bothered to tell anyone anything.

All was going well, or so we thought, until we got a phone call wondering if we were close to the church to pick up Vanessa’s grandmother. Let’s fast forward here. We hadn’t gassed up the van, and the children still needed to be fed. So it was going to be McDonald’s for the kids, and a popular sandwich chain (yeah you know who I’m talking about) for us. I would use their name here, but I don’t want to get in trouble for trademark “tarnishment” because it took FOREVER, to get our sandwiches.

Literally, there were 7 people in front of me, and it took 25 minutes to get our food. Yeah, I could have gone somewhere else, but the fast food selection is limited in Homer. Besides, after about 10 minutes, I was committed. I wanted my sandwich. The only thing I could do, was chalk everything up to being on Homer time, where everything (apart from time) moves just a little bit slower.

The bottom line is that Vanessa’s grandma got stuck waiting forever for us in Anchor Point. But to be fair, they decided they were going to have a potluck after church, so what the heck. I didn’t know what was going on half the time. So the verdict for this day: departure delayed

Yay! finally we pulled out of the church parking lot on the road back to Anchorage. We had successfully collected Vanessa’s grandmother, everyone had been fed, and the weather was awesome. Keep in mind, we were already behind schedule at that point. Again.

Empty Beach

Everything was smooth sailing. No road construction, not too many slow vehicles, and no full bladders. In fact, the only thing I am going to bring up (complain) about the return trip is the fact that once we reached the bottom of the long hill going down to the Turnagain Arm, traffic came to a complete and utter stop. Then inched along at about walking pace, before coming to a stop again. Remember earlier in the blog post where I said “Remember this area, because I have some things to say about it later. And not nice things.”? Well this is the place.

Was there an accident? Did someone hit a moose? Was road construction going on? I would love to share with you what was slowing traffic down so bad, but NOTHING HAPPENED! We sat and picked our noses for over an hour. And the worst part, is we never could figure out what the big hold up was.

There was no road construction equipment, no police cars, or no debris to indicate there had possibly been an accident. There was nothing. Absolutely nothing. To be honest, after all that waiting, I was seriously disappointed there wasn’t any indication of anything that could have possibly caused such a delay in traffic. Vehicles were backed up the hill and stretched all the way around the tip of the arm and well past the turn off leading to Whittier.

Let’s summarize everything about the trip back:

Apart from leaving late from Homer, the first 3/4 of the trip back: excellent.

Next 7/16 of the remaining portion: sucky.

Last 9/16 of the remaining portion: average, but I did find my sunglasses so that was cool.

So there you have it. We left Anchor Point at 2:20 p.m. and arrived back at our house at 8:30 p.m. Not too shabby. We managed to cover less than 200 miles (322 kilometers) in just over 6 hours. So the verdict for this leg of the trip: beyond delayed

But as a whole, the trip was fun and I honestly do like Homer a lot, despite my constant grumblings about hippy time. Next time though, maybe we should just fly down there.


Homer Spit

This picture is taken at the top of the hill before Homer. You can just barely see the spit on the left side of the picture.



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