After four days of non-stop moving, I thought it best to take a well deserved break. Day five certainly delivered on that promise. The day started slow and I deliberately chose not to pick up the pace. I had discussed the option of returning to Homer to shoot the great scenery I knew was behind the clouds. One check of the weather told me to just sit back down and have another cup of coffee. The sky was still dreary so this sealed the deal. No traveling for me today.
I spent the rest of the day in the Soldatna area with my most gracious host, Deb. Once I finally got my blog updated and pictures edited, Deb and I took a short drive over to the township of Kenai. Kenai is a small town on the eastern shore of the Cook Inlet on the western side of the Kenai Peninsula. Deb and I drove around and looked at some of the old buildings that had been in the area since the original homesteaders moved into the area. One thing you’ll notice is that a lot of the structures in Alaska are really small in comparison to the space around them. After thinking about it for a while and trying to decide why the homesteaders would build them this way, I finally understood. To survive the Alaskan winter, you need a lot of heat. In the homesteading days, and even today, this heat is from wood that you chop in the summer months. If you want to have any time to do anything but cut wood in the summer, I guess you need a smaller structure to heat. These little buildings from the homesteading days certainly bring that fact home. They are tiny, multi-level structures that have a little attic area and an open floor plan beneath.
After driving around a bit, Deb and I found a coffee house which appeared to have half of the township under it’s roof. One thing I learned while living in New Orleans, you never stop at a restaurant or coffee house that doesn’t have a lot of cars out front. Seriously, when you see this many cars in one place in this size of a town, something really great must be within its doors. We thought we were in for the coffee experience of our lives. We walked in only to be turned away because the coffee house that had been reserved for a special event. (Insert whining sound here followed by a small fit that resembled Tourette’s syndrome – Sassafrackamuderuckinsonofabizatch). Turned away, we drove down the road just a bit to take a peek at the Cook Inlet. As luck would have it, we were treated with a great view of the Cook Inlet. The Inlet was at low tide. This exposed an amazing texture for a photograph. I immediately began looking around for something interesting to put into the foreground of the shot. If I had just taken a picture of the cloudy sky and draining shore, it would have been very boring. I needed something to perk up the shot and to make it something special. Deb and I took a walk along the rocky shore. I found a nice little cluster of rocks and I took my shot.
Cook Inlet, Low Tide, Kenai, AK
Not only were my senses enjoying the view but the air was filled with one of my favorite things – cool air with the aroma of burning wood. A few families had gathered on the beach for a little gathering. The city of Kenai has now put burn pits on the beach so that its citizens can do this without marring the shore for everyone. The families were in a circle around the flames and leaning back, rocking, in their beach chairs. Don’t get the idea that they weren’t wearing fleece and hats.
They were sitting in front of a fire, on a beach, in Alaska. The wind was lightly blowing so there was a light chill in the air. I can see why people love the Kenai Peninsula. Life outside of the metropolitan areas of Alaska is similar to small town America in the “lower 48″. However, people in Alaska know the value of working hard, living right and playing outdoors when the weather cooperates. If anything, I now further understand my friends in the “lower 48″ that come from Alaska. When the sun is shining, you won’t find them home. When it’s raining, they won’t answer their phone. They go into a little bit of seclusion and relaxation so they’ll be able to maintain the pace they enjoy when the sun is shining.