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Day 17
August 3, 1999
Homer to Anchorage

Tuesday dawns beautiful in brilliant sunshine, perfect weather in which to enjoy Homer. We pack the bikes, and after a quick breakfast head for Homer Spit. Homer is known as the town where the singer Jewel grew up, and where Tom Bodet ("I'll leave the lights on for you") started his career, but is known mostly for the Spit, a 200 yard wide sand finger that juts five miles into Katchemak Bay.

Spectacular Katchemale Bay, looking towards the Kenai Mountains. 5 mile long Homer Spit is in left foreground.

I remember days spent on the Spit as a young man in the late-60s and 70s. Just a five hour drive from Anchorage but a world away, Homer was a great get-away from the pressures of making a living and raising children, and I often drove a car or rode my motorcycle down for the weekend. From friends' boats we fished and set shrimp and crab pots in Katchemak Bay. We struggled to keep warm in our tent on cold late-spring nights, and broiled fresh halibut over open campfires while the smoke and breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay. It seemed like hours on end that Greg and I skipped stones on the water; always trying for the perfect toss, but never quite achieving it. My Mom says "you can go back to the place, but never back to the time," and of course she is right. So now, with old and new friends we enjoy the Spit once more and make new memories

Randy enjoying the Homer Spit.

Once home mainly to a few beach campers, the fishing fleet and its supporting processors, as well as an odd restaurant and bar (some very odd indeed,) since my last visit in the early-1980s the Spit has fallen prey to commercial development supporting tourism; in particular trinket shops and the halibut charter industry. To be fair, please understand that Homer's development is a small fraction as advanced as say, Gatlingburg, Tennessee, that "first city of tackiness" nestled in the Great Smokey Mountains; but the race is on. Shoreline is obscured and views are spoiled, but dollars are earned to support the four thousand people who live here. Although by nature I am a hard-core capitalist, defending to my dying breath the economic system that has allowed me to prosper, it is difficult to watch the unmatched natural beauty of the Homer Spit being spoiled by development run amuck.

Eric & Julia by the "Salty Dog," Homer Spit's most famous landmark.

For now, though, there is still shrimp to catch, halibut to eat, ample shoreline to walk and many great viewpoints across the turquoise waters of Katchemak Bay to the glaciers that spill from the peaks of the Kenai Mountains. If you have only one trip left to make in your lifetime you owe it to yourself to visit Homer. Go soon; in fact, go now.

Tom on a rare sunny day by beautiful Katchemale Bay.

On a clear day, high on a ridge north of town and far from the gift shops of the Spit, the waters of Katchemak Bay resplendent in the sunshine as peak after snow-covered peak of the Kenai Mountains unfold to the horizon, you can see Heaven. At least I hope that Heaven will be this beautiful.

Days 18, 19, 20
August 4, 5, & 6, 1999

For three days Jan and I fill lunches, afternoons and dinners visiting friends and business associates. We drive by houses and businesses we owned and places we once worked. In short, we visit the city we have come to call home for many years. In addition, we complete repairs on the bikes for the last leg of our journey, the ride to Haines and the ferry trip back to Washington State.