Backyard

Cottonwood trail: an easy hike with a great view

On the Homer side of Kachemak Bay, finding a good, short hike can be a challenge. Across the bay, Kachemak Bay State Park has some marvelous hikes — if you have a boat and can afford a water taxi. If you’re a visitor or local, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies has a little gem of a hike off East Skyline Drive, the Billie Fischer Cottonwood Trail.

Birding, wildlife van tour a great way to see ‘home’

“You can’t see the forest for the trees” is a great description for what happens when you live in a place for long. The day-to-day stuff gets so distracting you don’t see the eagle nest on the Spit, the sea otter bobbing on the bay or the eagle outside your car window as it glides beside the highway.

One quick cure: the free birding-wildlife hot spots van tour offered by Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center on Friday afternoons during July, and led by volunteers John and Sue Ewan, retired middle school science teachers from Missouri. 

Highland Games: bring a bit of Scotland to Homer

OK, first let’s get the obvious question out of the way. What do men — and women — wear under their kilts at the Kachemak Bay Scottish Highland Games? If you were one of about 450 people who watched the 30 athletes compete at Karen Hornaday Park last Saturday, the way those kilts swirled about as athletes threw big stones and tossed huge logs, you know the answer.

Homer Harbor: Tours offer glimpse of marine life, history

With so much boat traffic in and out of the Homer Harbor, it’s easy to think the harbor is all about fishing.

Not true.

The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies’ twice-daily Creatures of the Dock tour offers an hour with a naturalist to learn about the intertidal life existing in the harbor. The Pratt Museum’s 1.5-hour historic harbor walking tour offers a glimpse at how the Homer area, including the harbor, came to be.

Facing the elements to take hiatus

Moose have trampled on its art. Vandals have stolen and trashed works. Some sculptures have been left in place, slowly returning back to the earth. Since 1994, Facing the Elements has merged art and nature on the Pratt Museum’s Forest Trail, testing creative ingenuity and inspiring imaginations.

The 19th annual show opened June 14, but when the museum begins construction of its new building in late 2014 or early 2015, this will be the last summer of Facing the Elements until completion of the new museum in 2016 or 2017. In the meantime, the show will take a hiatus.

Be blown away by Homer Kitefest 2013

George Overpeck and Trace Carlos live for extreme sports in Alaska, but it’s not snow they crave — but wind and water. 

This year they are organizing and instructing kiteboarding at Homer KiteFest 2013. It’s been six years since Homer’s first kite festival, and each year more and more kite enthusiasts show up. 

“We started the event, to promote our hobby and get all the kiteboarders in the state together,” said Carlos.

Radiocarbon dating raises questions about mammoth tusk

While gathering coal on Mariner’s beach with her husband and friends one day in 1976, Judy Winn of Homer found a curious piece of — something. 

“I sort of wandered and was beachcombing and found it in the rocks,” said Winn of spotting the object that was about 20 inches long, seven inches in diameter. “I took it home thinking it was a piece of petrified wood. Then, I was looking at it, the shape, how it was curved, and I kind of got the idea it might be ivory.”

Halibut Derby Offers More Than One Prize

When angler James “Jimmie” Peeples of Chico, Calif., hooked into a 323.2-pound halibut last August, he and his fishing buddies “were amazed, flipping out,” he told the Homer News at the time. “I couldn’t believe it.”

That day of fishing netted more than food for the freezer.

It put Peeples in the winning seat for the 2012 Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby’s $10,000 grand prize.

Cleanup day is annual rite of spring

Some nations celebrate the start of May with Beltane, the Celtic festival marking the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstices. Other countries consider May Day as labor day, the day to honor workers. In Homer, we get down and dirty the first Saturday of May with our annual Cleanup Day as local volunteers pick up trash and recyclables all over town and wherever it emerges from breakup.

Fair celebrates 21 years of kid safety

Think you know all there is to know about washing germs off your hands? Stick them under Scrub Club’s black light at Saturday’s 21st annual Safe Kids Fair and see how much you really know.
That and more activities, information and special guests will be available in the Homer High School commons from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., with a bicycle rodeo in the school’s parking lots from 10 a.m.-noon. The fair is sponsored by Safe Kids Coalition, comprised of agencies and nonprofits promoting child safety.

Going to the dogs

Judging by the look on her face, Gracie, a 6-year-old golden retriever, is proud of herself. Judging by the ribbons and trophies arranged around her, she deserves to be. Gracie recently earned fourth-place in the 20-inch preferred agility category in the National Agility Championship in Tulsa, Ok.

dipping into the homer blogosphere

BY MICHAEL ARMSTRONG

STAFF WRITER

Around and about Homer, not everything exists in the physical universe — at least, the universe beyond some server farm on a distant node of the information superhighway. Almost forgotten among social media websites is one of the earliest incarnations of the Internet, the blog. Of millions of blogs, some are by Homer writers or about Homer.

Welcome to the Homer blogosphere.

Easter is a hopping-good time on the southern peninsula

If you think Santa and his elves are busy during the Christmas season, check out what the Easter Bunny and his large band of helpers have scheduled for Easter Sunday on the southern Kenai Peninsula.

Actually, preparations begin before the sun rises Easter morning. Sherry Parish and her crew from the Emblem Club in Homer gather Saturday to dye 120 dozen eggs they hide Sunday for youngsters.

Moose population healthy, bulls recovering

In thinking about our own backyard, the wilderness and near-wilderness surrounding us isn't just our playground. It's the home of the almost 3,000 moose that live there.

How many moose live on the lower Kenai Peninsula? How many bulls to cows? Those are all questions people want to know about alces alces, the moose we love to look at, photograph, hunt and eat.

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