Wednesday, November 30, 2016

XC Skiing Extraordinaire in November!

First day skiing (for me) this year:  sunset on Nov. 23 with Mt. Iliamna in the distance

There was snow last year, but it was unpredictable and I never knew where or when the conditions were good. When my son joined the ski team this year I was excited because I would get daily eyewitness reports of the snow conditions. The ski team has already been skiing for nearly 3 weeks now (amazing!), but I finally got out the day before Thanksgiving, motivated by company that loves to ski.

The conditions at Lookout Trails were great on Wednesday and Thursday--hard packed and fast, despite spots with bits of brush showing through. Quite a joy.  Friday there were 4-5 inches of fresh snow and it hadn't settled yet so the trails were softer so I opted to classic in the well-set tracks.  Moose tracks abounded, and there was even one bear scat on the freshly groomed trail!

Same view the next day--Thanksgiving!!
Both Mt. Illiamna and Mt. Redoubt (both active volcanos) are visible across Cook Inlet

It was magical to be out skiing this early, on good trail, in awesome weather:  calm, 20's and clear. I skiied more this past weekend than I have in the past 2 plus years combined.  Every day for the past week I keep looking outside thinking, "It looks like winter!!! I'm so excited! It's cold! Love it!!" You'd think I'd just take it in stride, but 2 years of seeing my green lawn all winter lawn made me afraid I was never going to see a "real winter" again. While there are advantages to a snow-less winter, less snow usually means more ice (borderline temperatures). So for this week, I am reveling in our snowy, ice-free road!


Monday, November 14, 2016

What a View to Come to School to!

Photo by Alayne Tetor


Every so often we get a rash of gorgeous sunrises. and the past month has given us some of those. A month or so ago the Homer High art teacher, Alayne Tetor, snapped this shot from the school library balcony of the turf field with Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountain Range in the background.

The photo was posted on the school website and grabbed 39,776 views, 4094 reactions, 420 likes and 305 shares to date, far outstripping the next nearest post (double state championships for Homer High School cross-country running team in early October). We're feeling pretty blessed to have a view like this--and that Alayne nabbed this shot and shared it!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Some Interesting Things I've Noticed About Homer...

Homer is now home to me, and what it is like here is now "normal", but every so often I ponder how Homer is different than the world I grew up in in the Midwest.  

Here are some things I have noticed from my nine years in Homer:
  • There are a number of households that the dads stay home with the kids and the moms are the household breadwinners.
  • Many women keep their maiden names and do not take on their husband's names when they got married.
  • A number of folks who seem very eligible singles simply don't get married (I hear this is a national trend, but from a woman who recently moved here from Oklahoma, it is unusual not to get married and started with a family by 30).
  • There are some big families, and it's not because they are Catholic. Some seem not to have any formal or public religious beliefs, but they still have a number of kids (as in 4-6, which seems like a lot!). Others, such as the Old Believers, religion may play a role.
  • In general, people seem more sensitive to and aware of the environment and passionate about preserving the world they live in.
  • Many folks have a 'hands off' mentality about the government or other institutions such as schools:  they believe in their rights as individuals and don't want others meddling in their families or lives.
  • In Homer, people don't seem to care quite as much about appearances.  Jeans, xtra-tuffs, old vehicles, whatever. 'Be comfortable, be real' seems to be the guiding philosophy, even if you are independently wealthy, as a number of Homerites are.
  • Art and music are a big part of people's lives here. When my daughter gave her valedictory address on graduating last spring about art and one's life, it resonated with many people, as she thought it would. 

It could just be the group of people I associate with, but I feel like a minority among women I know that I changed my last name when I got married. My daughter felt fully accepted as a female interested in the sciences in Homer, and now in college in Colorado is becoming aware of stereotypes she didn't realize existed. 

Of course, none of these could be said about "everybody" in Homer, but there is a different culture here--a different perspective on the world. Does this place just attract folks like this (since most people in Homer are transplants from elsewhere)? Or does this place change the people who are here? It's not something we could answer, but it is fun to ponder!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Holiday Cheer on the Spit



A couple years ago a giant fishhook was installed on the Homer Spit next to the Homer Harbor. We were tickled as we walked by the other day and saw it festooned in lights. It's a little early for Christmas, but not too early for festive lights, as this time of year can be dark and dreary, especially when it is pouring rain instead of snow, like it has been going for the last few days.  Welcome to Homer!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Many Rivers of Homer



One of my favorite places in Homer is Many Rivers, an old cedar log cabin that has gorgeous hardwood floors and a delightful atmosphere for yoga, pilates, meditation or other health and wellness related workshops and classes. 

It is in a very convenient location, right at the beginning of East End Road as you head out of town from the 4-way stop. There is a constant ebb and flow of instructors as they come to Homer or leave. Early in the summer I was doing Pilates a couple days a week. Then I was joining a few other hardy souls to meditate for an hour each morning from 7 to 8 am. Now Kundalini Yoga classes have started back up and I have dropped in for some Saturday morning classes.

The feng shui of Many Rivers is amazing, and there has been many times I've wanted to get out my camera to take a picture to try to capture it, but no photo could do justice to the sense of solidity with the huge logs and comfort of the floor glowing in a sunrise. So you'll have to settle for my humble outdoor shot of this special place and check out the schedule at http://www.manyriversalaska.com/ and visit a class sometime when you're in town.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bishop's Beach Decor

rusted car and fourwheeler


Seeing derelict cars is common on beaches in the area when folks get stuck in the mud and can't get their vehicle out in time, or when they miss the low tide and the tide comes in and blocks them from their return to the road system.  However, last week when I was out walking on Bishop's Beach I was amused to see both a car and a four-wheeler captured at the base of the cliff.  I don't walk Bishop's Beach all the often but it seems there is a regular turn-over of rusted out vehicles, and I hadn't seen this one before.  I am deep into my school year and all the busy-ness that accompanies working full-time plus family and life, so I don't blog much. Thought it would give me an excuse to let my blog readers know I haven't jumped ship--just slowing into the 'work' part of my year!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Thunderbird Falls

The bottom of Thunderbird Falls.

If one drives across the newly paved bridge at the Eklutna Lake exit off the freeway north of Anchorage, there is a nicely developed parking lot and restroom at the trailhead of Thunderbird Falls. We were there on a rainy Saturday morning and the parking lot was nearly full and the trail busy.

I'd hiked that trail before many years ago, and my memory said the trail was only 1/8 mile to the falls, but it is actually 1/2 mile to the canyon overlook, and a mile to the falls overlook. Another little leg of trail heads to the base of the falls. So as hikes go, it is short, with a few big hills but then mostly flat.

The trail is wide and comfortable walking to Thunderbird Falls after the initial hill

Boardwalks add to the easy hike
 Sometimes my quick 'point and shoot' on my iphone camera works, and other times it doesn't. This was one of those times that it was a little too quick, so my shot of the whole waterfall from the upper deck didn't turn out. It is a fairly large waterfall, and though we have lots and lots of waterfalls in Alaska, many are in the wilderness and not easily accessible. This one is about as easy as it gets!