Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Turns out the Bear Guys from the Alaska Fish and Game Department are also guests here. Apparently they travel around studying bears.

Yesterday, I ran out of tourist stuff to do. Homer is a great little town, but the operative word is "little". I've done the Spit, I've done the town, I've done the beach, I've done the galleries, book stores and souvenir shops. I've even done Safeway. Twice. So yesterday afternoon, I decided to drive around Alaska... I headed up the Sterling Highway toward Anchorage in hopes of some sort of adventure. About a mile or so out of town, I did spy 2 moose - a mother and calf standing in somebody's yard eating their bushes. Moose are pretty big! And scruffy enough to blend into scenery if you're not paying close attention. I didn't get a photo though, due to being on the big highway and also because everyone here seems to drive at break-neck speed and are constantly on my ass. How is one supposed to sight see with all that pressure? To be honest, I only got about 30 miles from town before I turned back. The Sterling Highway is famous for its spectacular views as you drive from Homer to Anchorage. Well, it might have spectacular views further on down the road, but all I saw was a bunch of forest. And not the forest you think of in, say, Big Sur or even Big Bear. These forests are wild and scraggly and have been burned by fires and regrown and all the old wood is just laying where it fell. I suppose that's how God intended it, but if it were me - I would have probably tidied up a bit... This place is just - just - natural. Like earlier in the day, I went to the Spit and I walked out to the very end searching for the remaining eagles (most of whom have scattered since it's no longer Winter and the "Eagle Lady" doesn't feed them every day) and as I walked along on all these smooth black rocks, I kept waiting for the rocks to stop and the parking lot to begin - like some designer had placed the rocks there for atmosphere instead of the rocks being there from time immemorial and somebody putting up buildings for atmosphere.

Anyway, back to my drive... I did pull over next to the Anchor River which winded its way along the side of the Sterling Highway for a distance. I got out of the car to take some photos when I became a little spooked. First, because it seemed to me like the perfect spot for a thirsty bear to get a nice drink of water, and second - there was an RV parked next to the river that appeared as if the family from Texas Chainsaw Massacre was using it for a road trip. It had been parked at that spot for a long time judging by all the trash and personal belongings strewn about and hanging out of windows. Then I noticed the RV door was open and the thought did cross my mind that the whole Joad family (or whoever they were) had been slaughtered inside. Well I got the hell outta Dodge because I didn't want to know anything more...

There was supposed to be an active Aurora Borealis last night and the sky was really clear, so I checked several times during the night (whenever the pain from sleeping on this horrid, horrid bed woke me up screaming) but I didn't see any Northern Lights. I did see a beautiful full moon reflected on the ocean though. And there was a strange orangeish glow all around the moon too. I don't know what caused it, but I don't think that was the Aurora. Very pretty.

Which brings me to today. Today I'm staying local. Local being here in this room, looking out at the sea and the birds, a walk to the beach, and later across to the Mermaid Cafe for dinner. I have to remember why I came here before it's time to leave.

I came all the way to Alaska, not so much for a tourist trip - even though that part is pretty cool - I came here because of The Book. The Book that's set in a town very much like Homer. I'm here to sit. And absorb. And feel the cold wind (believe me - it's cold!) And listen (like I listened at the Anchorage Airport to a couple of Alaskan Native women speaking to each other in an exotic language), and imagine what it will be like for my characters as they work and love and live in an environment such as this.

So we'll see how that goes....

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