6.28.2012

Alaska Road Trip: Day 11

Our second day in Homer was pretty fantastic. 

The kids woke up and went straight outside to throw rocks in the water. 


After breakfast, I told the kids to stand on top of the table and let me take their picture. They thought that was hilarious. . . and happily complied. 


The RV park started to fill up and I realized why our trailer attracted so much attention. It kind of stuck out. . . but in a cool way. Look at that blue sky!


We went for a nice walk up the spit:


And took note of the Tsunami Evacuation Route. The spit sits only 19 feet above sea level, which means that storms and tsunamis are a real threat. 


We saw charming shops and cafes, overflowing with character: 


Adam found lots of giant fish to pose with: 


He also found lots of opportunities to get too close to the water: 

 

Which gave Steve lots of opportunities for disciplining: 


We even found a cool hippie bus that is probably owned by a "Spit Rat".


I found this description of a Spit Rat online: A Spit Rat's summer typically involves working 12 to 16 hours a day and drinking at the Salty Dawg Saloon at night. Spit Rats spend lots of time hanging out at campfire parties where people play guitar and grill fresh seafood. They also get sand in everything they own and spend sleepless nights under the midnight sun. If you choose to become a Spit Rat, you'll probably be tired and disheveled all summer long, but most former Spit Rats would tell you they wouldn't trade the experience for anything.   

(Thank goodness Steve never went to Alaska as a college-aged bachelor. I'm quite certain he would have turned into a Spit Rat.)

Jake and family arrived in Homer just in time for lunch. The first thing Jake said to us was that our kids looked just like locals. Carhartts and rain boots are the norm in Alaska. He quickly added that everyone would definitely be able to tell that I was a tourist. (You know. . . because I'm a lady now.) 

Steve was in search of some fresh seafood, so we checked out a few places. And then we stumbled upon this jewel, the AK Crab Shack. 


They opened their doors for lunch, and we were the very first customers of the year!


The restaurant was basic with no frills. They offered crab cakes, coconut crab cakes, crab chowder, crab quesadillas, and crab, sold by the pound. 

While we waited for our food, the kids played "I've Never": 


And we learned the difference between Blue King Crab and Snow Crab:


The setting was just perfect for our group.


This is the Snow Crab: 


This is the Blue King Crab:


(Big price difference, very similar flavor.)

This was my favorite, the Coconut Crab Cakes. They were sooooo good!


Just so you know, eating crab is a very serious ordeal.


Even though they turned and smiled for me, it was pretty obvious that they weren't interested in being interrupted for a picture. 


Our kids liked playing with the crab legs, but they didn't like eating them. No complaints from us; we didn't mind having it all to ourselves. 


After lunch, we went to check out the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center


This was one of the best visitor centers we went to in Alaska. (The employees were extremely friendly and helpful, so it probably ranks as number one.)

There was a great area for young children to climb on a glacier: 


Sit in a kayak: 


And learn all sorts of interesting things: 


The older kids became "Junior Biologists" by completing their workbooks.


They had to be sworn in before they received their patches:


The "One Big Ocean" exhibit was my favorite. And I like this quote:


The museum staff was wonderful and definitely the most kid-friendly. They answered all of our questions about tides, offered to help the kids with their workbooks, told us about the Creatures of the Docks tour (I wish the kids could have gone, but we ran out of time), and even encouraged the kids to climb up on the sea lion sculpture for a picture.


The kids really would have stayed all day, but we pried them away so we could go to the beach. (At this point, I was kicking myself for wasting so much of our precious time in Homer the day before.)

Our next stop was Bishops Beach:


I don't know what we were thinking, but we let our kids bring their water gun shooter things to the beach. Jake and Amy knew exactly what they were doing and packed shovels.


Shovels are the perfect toy for beaches in Alaska. 


The kids weren't necessarily digging for anything in particular, just digging. 


Lucy went too far into the water and ended up with soaking wet boots. She pulled them off and kept playing, barefoot. Did I mention it was cold??


She was still happy, so we figured she was tough enough for an outdoor baptism. I kind of wished we were prepared to do it right there. 


Back at the visitor center's gift shop, I had used my iPhone to take a few pictures of the Beachcomber's Guide charts. (They were way too pricey, around ten bucks each, so I didn't feel too guilty.) I thought I was going to explore the beach and find all sorts of creatures.


But it was windy and cold. This is my "don't take a picture of me" face. 


Steve wandered off and found some cool things in the tide pools: 


Lucy found a few shells:


But the kids mostly just explored by themselves.


And did a lot of digging: 


Adam actually loved playing with his water gun shooter toy: 


Jake and Amy also brought their new toy, this inflatable kayak:


I am not exaggerating when I say that they were giddy like little kids on Christmas morning. 

Amy took it out on its maiden voyage:  


Lucy was finally starting to get cold, so I had the kids pose for one last picture, and then we left while Jake took his turn with the new boat.


A quick stop at Two Sisters Bakery for some bread:


And we finally stopped to take a picture of this odd wooden boat graveyard on the spit. (An old man lives in the largest boat.)


We went back to our campsite and prepared dinner. Jake and Amy came and ate with us and then showed us their lucky find, a beach full of sea stars. (Not starfish, sea stars.)


One by one, the kids threw the sea stars back into the Kachemak Bay.

Lucy loved them because they were purple.


And Rachel. . . who knows what it was, she just loved them. Everyone else was back in the car, and she was still on the beach by herself, throwing sea stars back into the water. 


She even talked Steve into letting her bring a couple home as souvenirs. I loved it when Amy very clearly made sure Rachel understood that taking a sea star out of the water and drying it out meant she was killing it. 


Please note that I was not supportive of this endeavor. I was outvoted, or maybe Steve wasn't interested in what my vote was. But I knew from the beginning that it wasn't going to work out.

And the night ended with Steve almost getting into a fight with a guy at Safeway. . .