Homer Alaska - Announcements

Story last updated at 4:20 PM on Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homer's best bets


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Shannon McBride-Morin, left, and her daughter Sabina Morin, right, make Christmas tree ornaments at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies open house last Friday.

Maybe you arrived in Alaska this fall and still naively believe that winter will be all Currier and Ives. Maybe you come from a far away place and think that snow falls gently in big fat flakes, people all bundled up in heavy wool overcoats, their cheeks rosy as they sing Christmas carols before heading out on a horse-drawn sleigh. OK, a horse-drawn sleigh would have been dang handy last Sunday if you drove down from Anchorage.

The Betster hears the Seward Highway experienced a rare thing that day: No one dared pass. As long as the car ahead kept it between the ditches and the tracks didn't drift over, drivers actually were content to keep it below the speed limit.

Last weekend, Alaska reminded us that the only certainty in winters here is that there is no certainty in winters here. Saturday morning the moon set under clear skies, one last eclipse until 2014 to drench it in smoky red. Hours later Baycrest Hill become a pin ball game. Slide down ditches! Hope to heck you don't tilt! If you made it home safely, it took hours to unclench your fear-stiffened fingers from the steering wheel.

Fortunately, everything returned to normal by Monday night. The snowplow operators got the roads cleared by noon. By mid week, drivers had summoned up enough courage to tailgate on hairpin turns, even though enough ice remained to turn your Yaris into a VID — that's "vehicle in ditch" — on the cop log.

Life goes on at Latitude 59 degrees and some change. As always, there's lots to do, like some of these Best Bets:

BEST BIRD BY BIRD BET: Learn winter bird identification in a workshop at 6:30 p.m. today and then put that knowledge to use from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday with the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Meet at Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m. for assignments, then fan out and count identify birds. Warm up at sunset with hot soup. A $5 donation is requested.

BEST VA-VA-VOOM BET: It's a flash back to the 1930s with a modern twist when Bait and Tassels brings back burlesque. The Burly-Q Revue features some of Homer's most, uh, interesting women and men in an evening of dare-but-don't-bare-all dancing. Rated R for "risqué," the adults-only performance shows at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Alice's Champagne Palace. The troupe donates proceeds to Bunnell Street Arts Center. Tickets are $15 at the door or in advance at Alice's and the Fringe.

BEST IT'S A WRAP BET: Can't tie a ribbon to save your life? The American Legion Auxiliary will make your Christmas gifts look all shiny and pretty at its annual gift wrapping service from noon-5 p.m. daily through Dec. 23 and 11 a.m-4 p.m. Christmas Eve. Donations support veterans programs.

BEST UP NORTH BET: Set your compass for the North Pole, but you don't have to go that far to see Santa. From 10 a.m. -7 p.m. Saturday, stop at Ninilchik for "The Magic of Christmas." Enjoy crafts, hay rides, a free community dinner and a Christmas play, all for canned food donations to support the new Ninilchik Food Pantry.

BEST YOU HAD ME AT HAIKU BET: Ice on the highway / hold on to your Christmas tree / whew that was so close. Try out your own haikus with "Holiday Haikus and Christmas Cookies," from 6-7:30 p.m. today at the Homer Public Library. Bring your own work to share.