Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Some Local Lower Peninsula Sights

In being "tourists" in the Homer area I got a chance to see and do a bunch of the things that I forget are here. Since I have some great pictures from some of these spots (some courtesy of my brother-in-law), I figured I would put together a blog post of these miscellaneous sights.

Norman Lowell Studio and Gallery

The unassuming Norman Lowell Gallery holds immense beauty inside (Photo by Phillip Waclawski)
Perched on a bluff above the Anchor River off the Sterling Highway halfway between Homer and Anchor Point, the Norman Lowell Studio is one of our favored gems of places to visit, though we only make it there once a year (we call it our annual pilgrimage). The gallery is free, with hundreds of Lowell's paintings gracing the walls, nearly all of Alaska scenery, with accents of wood carvings by other artists. Our favorite painting is a gigantic wall-sized view of the aurora borealis in a deep, snowy winter scene.

Last year Lowell was officially said to be blind, a devastating turn of fate for a visual artist who obviously deeply appreciates the beauty of the natural world. Despite that he had special, bright halogen lights installed in his studio to make the most of what vision he does have. He went on to finish numerous paintings, which are displayed in the sales room at the gallery. He is beginning to sell some of the original paintings, in addition to the prints, which have been for sale for a long time.

Lowell and his wife Libby are avid gardeners and horticulturists. They have a greenhouse full of fruit trees, and were the inspiration for my aunt and uncle in Ninilchik to plant fruit trees in their greenhouse. Folks are welcome to walk around the homestead (it truly is a homestead, as they arrived in Alaska before it was a state), which we did for the first time.  Here are some pictures of that.

The original Lowell homestead cabin with the greenhouse in the background (Photo by Phillip Waclawski)

Interior of original Lowell homestead cabin (Photo by Phillip Waclawski)

A pictoral history of the Lowell's found in their old homestead cabin (Photo by Phillip Waclawski)

Bay Crest Overlook

Every time we come into Homer on the Sterling Highway, we pass this overlook. Usually about that time I catch my breath in awe, because the view is breathtaking. I never take the time to stop and soak it in, though, which is what the overlook at the top of Baycrest Hill offers.

"The" place folks get their picture taken when arriving in Homer (along with the Salty Dawg Saloon on the spit)
(Photo by Phillip Waclawski)

View of the Spit from Baycrest Hill (Photo by Phillip Waclawski)

Mountains, glaciers, water....this is Homer (Photo by Phillip Waclawski)

The Switchbacks

Heading all the way out to the end of East End Road, past where the pavement ends in Voznesenka, are the switchbacks. We like to take visitors out that way for the "wow" effect. The mountains are so much closer at the head of the bay, with the Portlock and Dixon Glaciers looping huge straight across. I contemplated including the switchbacks in my 'hike' post, but most people probably wouldn't handle them too well, so it is under sights instead. I don't recommend driving the switchbacks unless you have a higher clearance vehicle and some confidence and competence with rough roads. Even hiking a small section at the top of the switchbacks can be rewarding for the views, though. Here are a few:

View of glacier from road through Voznesenka (Photo by Phillip Waclawski)

View of one section of the switchbacks (Photo by Phillip Waclawski)

Boat left on the mud to reclaim at a higher tide (car antenna in the foreground) (Photo by Phillip Waclawski)

Love this long expanse of beach at the bottom of the switchbacks (Photo by Phillip Waclawski)

Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik

On a bluff overlooking the Ninilchik harbor a Russian Orthodox church (as opposed to Russian Old Believer, which are what the 3 villages at the head of the bay past Homer are) stands. Two cemeteries rest on the grounds--one inside a fence for Russian Orthodox, and another outside the fence for local folks. My cousin Rene Lindeman is buried there.

Russian Orthodox church in Ninilchik (Photo by Phillip Waclawski)
The view from the church is amazing, looking across Cook Inlet to the Alaska Range, and also of the harbor and Ninilchik Beach. I believe the church is open for visitors to view during the day (perhaps just some days of the week), but we were there in the evening so it was locked.

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