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The Places We Live – Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

By Cathy W.  (Firefly)

 

If there is one thing I have learned about Alaska that I didn’t know before, it is that there are many different climates and cultures. It makes sense if you think about it, given that Alaska is the largest state by a significant margin. It covers a vast amount of real estate, roughly the same width as the contiguous US from east coast to west coast. I know I never thought about it until I lived here! I couldn’t begin to describe everywhere in one little blog post, so I thought I’d share a bit with you about Alaska in general, and then some about the small portion of Alaska where I live – the Kenai Peninsula.

One of the most common misconceptions about Alaska is that it is cold, snowy, and dark all the time. Not true. For instance, here in Homer, a coastal town on Kachemak Bay, the weather is more like the Pacific Northwest. Winter time temperatures hover around freezing, often raining instead of snowing. The higher elevations of the mountains or the bluffs usually have more freezing temperatures and larger snow accumulations, though it is not uncommon to have warmer spells with rain throughout the winter.

Photo by Cathy W. (Firefly)

 

Summers are glorious, with rich vegetation and usable light for almost 24 hours a day. If you look at climate details, you will see that there supposedly is only 6 hours of daylight on the darkest day of the year. What this doesn’t take into account is the more than an hour of light before the sun comes up and after the sun goes down! And speaking of light, the quality of the winter light is amazing. The rich oranges, pinks, and purples that highlight the mountains at this time of year will just take your breath away. Often winter comes with clear skies, which means the moon and stars reflect off the snow, making the earth seem to glow around you.

 

Photo by Cathy W. (Firefly)

The people in Alaska seem to be of two types: those that were born here, and those that came from somewhere else. That about covers everyone, doesn’t it? People that live in Alaska are from varied walks of life, but they all seem to end up here because they want a change or an adventure. They come either to get away from it all, or experience it all. Life is a little more laid back than other places. People take time to enjoy some of the simpler things in life, like sharing a cup of coffee and a chat with the neighbor. Those that live here on the Kenai Peninsula are fun loving, don’t mind the flood of tourists that arrive in the summer (much), and like the calmness of the winters. (I have to say, though, that we can’t really call this winter calm, as we received over 16 feet of snow!) Generally, winter is a time of pot-lucks and resting up for summer. With the sun not setting until after midnight in the summer, it is truly hard to tell yourself to go to bed. Blackout shades are a common sight in any household – usually something custom made by the inhabitants to fit their window and habits. Alaskans are a hardy bunch, usually with a bit of an independent streak. Individuality is valued. Both privacy and camaraderie are treasured.

State Flag of Alaska

The Kenai is known as Alaska’s Playground. You know those photos you’ve seen of bears grabbing salmon from the river? Those were taken here. You see tourist photos of men with smiles ear to ear while standing next to halibut that weigh as much as they do? That’s here. You read about volcanoes smoking or spewing ash? Well, we can see those from here. I’ve been told that you can find on the Kenai examples of any of the climates that you can find anywhere else in Alaska. Talk about diversity! The Kenai peninsula is home to many, many small communities and a few larger ones. The biggest are the Kenai/Soldotna area, Seward, and Homer. Others include Hope, Sterling, Anchor Point, and Ninilchik. And there are plenty of people that live off the road system, only accessing their homes by snow machine, boat, or airplane.

Photo by Cathy W. (Firefly)

 

What can you do here on the Kenai? It is indeed a playground – you can fish for halibut, salmon (5 kinds!), trout, rockfish, lingcod, and more. You can take a plane or helicopter to look at the glaciers of the Kenai Mountains. You can go bear viewing. You can take a hike in amazing wilderness areas. You can pick wild raspberries, blueberries, salmon berries, currants, fireweed, and more in the fall. Kayakers take advantage of the calm waters in the brilliant mornings. Skiers and snowshoers traverse the landscape both by the light of day and the light of the moon at night. Locals and tourists alike take in a play or an art show opening, or visit a gallery of locally made crafts. You can watch the eagles soar off the Homer bluffs, majestically slicing through the air. You can camp in the Kenai Wildlife Refuge. Take a guided hike on the boardwalks of Beluga Slough and learn about the ‘soup’ that is the estuary in Kachemak Bay. Take a cruise and look for whales and puffins. Dig for razor clams in Cook Inlet. Drive through Anchor Point and you’ll have driven on the western-most point of the US road system. Do some tide pooling on Bishop’s Beach. Enjoy a pampering session at local day spa, with a view that can’t be beat. And – cliche as it sounds – that’s just for starters!

 

The state flower of Alaska is the Forget-Me-Not…truly, once you’ve been here, you won’t forget it.

photo by Cathy W. (Firefly)

 

 

 


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12 Responses to “The Places We Live – Kenai Peninsula, Alaska”

  1. Cis H. (californiadreamin) says:

    Cathy, thanks so much for a great description of your Alaska. I enjoyed it so much, I’m ready to hop on the next plane!

  2. Maria (SassenachD) says:

    WOW! When it gets to be 114 here in AZ, I am coming to your house! I loved this!

  3. Brenna B. (demiducky25) says:

    What gorgeous pictures! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  4. Hunter S. (Hunter1) says:

    Loved it!

  5. SirryD says:

    Cathy, thank you for your beautifully written piece! Also your pictures are breathtaking! I just made my first Alaska swap to North Pole, Alaska so this came at the perfect time! Now I really want to visit your amazing state!

  6. SirryD says:

    P.S. Happy Birthday for April 15!!!!

  7. D. G. (riahekans) says:

    What a wonderful post, Cathy!

    Being from the Caribbean, I’ve never wanted to visit Alaska but your descriptions have tempted me!

  8. Patty P. (Patouie) , says:

    Beautifully written and photographed! Thanks, Cathy! I hope to see some of those sites in a year or two.

  9. Katethegreat says:

    Beautifully written! I can’t wait to see it when I go in September.

  10. Carole (craftnut) says:

    Sounds like a truly lovely place to live. Your pictures are gorgeous.

  11. MIRAH W. (mwelday) says:

    Great to read…I’m going on a cruise to Alaska in just a few weeks. I know it won’t include all I want to see and do in Alaska, but it will be a good start. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  12. Sianeka N Hollywood, CA says:

    It is sooo tempting, now, after having read and viewed the gorgeous pics, to want to take a trip to Alaska! Although, after living so many years now in Southern California after growing up in New England, I’ve pretty much decided I never want to deal with winter and snow and cold temps ever again. But still, this piece has me wanting to brave those harsh foes and visit!!!!

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