Sunday, May 29, 2011

Now We Are Official “Mooseketeers”


Map picture


Today in Homer, Alaska, events really turned into one funny incident after another, ending with an official Hunt For The Moose. But first, let me back up a moment.

After our last two shore excursions in which it seemed that all we did was to tramp from one museum to another without really seeing the surrounding area, Lisa and I looked at our schedule for Homer with a new understanding. Before we left home, we booked the one and only excursion which “toured” Homer, but in re-reading the material it turns out that it would not depart until 1pm and then it would go from one art gallery to another, then to a museum, then onto yet another art gallery, ending back at the ship as we were to sail at 5pm. This sounded BORING. The only other choice was to take a shuttle service offered by the ship into town and back which ran every 30 minutes.

The morning had dawned with a sunny partly cloudy sky which made the surrounding snowcapped mountains just jump out at us across the clear and calm waters of the bay. We opted to “blow off” the tour for which we had tickets, and jumped on the second shuttle to depart the dock. The choice of using the shuttle was a wise one because the distance into Homer itself was almost six miles. The bus finally pulled into a deserted parking lot in front of a small mall in which all the stores seemed to be closed. After all, it was Sunday morning on the Memorial Day weekend. The driver opened the door and announced this to be the first of 4 stops if anyone would care to get off. Seeing absolutely nothing around, not even a car on the road, everyone wisely decided to skip the first stop. Several minutes pass and the bus pulls to the side of a main street, opens the door once again, and announces this to be the second stop.

Homer, Alaska

Here again, it did not seem that anything was open, and traffic was non-existent. Everyone just sat and looked at each other, when I decided” to hell with it!” We were already half-way through our circuit, so Lisa and I decided to jolly well get off and do something. In fact, during our drive, I had been reading over some promotional material handed to us on the dock and had spotted the phone number for the local cab service. I figured at this point, we had nothing to lose but to ring it up and see if we could grab a car and driver, because obviously this shuttle was going nowhere in particular. Talk about following the crowd at chow time, as we were standing on the sidewalk waiting for the bus to depart, the next thing we know everyone on the bus decides if this stop is good enough for us, then by golly they are going to get off also!

As it turns out, some of the galleries nearby were open, and when I turned around Lisa had already disappeared into one. My, oh my, that woman never misses an opportunity to shop! Anyway, I did phone for a cab, and to my surprise in less than two minutes, up pulls a local cab driven by a young girl wearing shredded jeans whose name was Sabrina. She said that for $50/hr she would show us around. So once I rescued Lisa mid-purchase, and we set off for an adventurous day in Homer.

Our first stop was to the “north” overlook from which we got some wonderful photographs of the entire bay and snowcapped mountains on the other side.

Homer, Alaska

There was even a glacier for us to photograph. As we are getting back in the cab, I overhear something on the radio about a moose sighting. Lisa and I both got excited and wanted to know if that was by any chance nearby and could we actually see a moose? Sabrina laughs and says that moose are everywhere, and she will get us a picture: thus the adventure began. Racing off down a dirt road in the direction of the “sighting,” we bounce along scanning the roadside, but after several miles, alas there was no moose to be found. Sabrina assured us that she would find us a moose in town because they are always hanging around there. Homer, AlaskaSo we headed back into town after taking a detour to photograph a local Greek Orthodox Church.

Sabrina put the “moose” alert out on the radio, and soon sightings were coming back to us. Each time we would run off to see “the moose,” it was only to find absolutely nothing. At this point, I started teasing Sabrina that this is all some hoax put on by the cab company to run up the meter while we ran all over town looking for the non-existent moose. In fact, I said, I was starting to doubt this entire moose thing! This made her even more determined than ever to find a moose. I cannot tell you how many sightings we chased, but in the process we saw Homer quite literally from one end of town to the other. It was really becoming comical in the car, and all three of us were into moose jokes. Suddenly, there was a moose sighting very near our location, and so with a quick “u-turn,” Sabrina was off and looking. The moose is presumably “right next to the old cemetery, behind the white house that is falling down, and is resting in the grass.” I mean, how could you miss it? But miss it we did, again and again, until I had Sabrina stop at the cemetery and we got out of the car. In walking around, I heard a rustle and looking left saw a huge moose indeed resting in the grass but back in the shrubs. Homer, AlaskaThen we realized that it was a mother when we saw two very young animals trying to make their first steps. It was really hard to get a photograph, but I did get enough recorded that you can clearly see the mother.

By now, a moose in a bush was not going to do it. I told Sabrina that it was so far away that for all I know that was a cow tied to a stake in an effort to fool tourists, and that we must have a real moose sighting. We were just about to give up when another sighting came at the Post Office which was just across the street from us. Zooming over in that direction, there in the flesh was a beautiful moose crossing the parking lot. Homer, AlaskaSabrina pulled in and stopped so that we could take pictures, when all of a sudden there is a loud screeching of tires and the roar of a motor as some “bozo” in a red pickup comes careening across the lot chasing after the moose. I really figured this clown had to be drunk, and for a moment I thought he was going to just run the poor animal over. Honking his horn and acting like a jerk, he ran the moose off before we could get many pictures. Then to my complete surprise after the moose departs, the truck comes roaring over to where we are standing and the guy rolls down his window, and in a threating manner asks if I am mad at him? My reply was “I don’t even know you, so how can I be mad at you?” He mouths off a little more and I said “but if you keep up this attitude, I am going to become real mad at you real fast.” Anyway, we got back in the cab and he pulled off!

On our way back to the ship, I spotted a bald eagle sitting atop a nearby tree, so Sabrina pulled over and I was able to take a photograph which turned out pretty well.Homer, Alaska Before you knew it, we had returned back at our ship after three hours chasing moose, but we had a great time and got some great photographs. Homer is a very picturesque community, but it is small and is rarely visited by cruise ships. Once again, we got to see the real Alaska, and not just the tourist Alaska.

Homer, Alaska

Tonight the ship sails up the Cook Inlet into Anchorage which marks the end of our first of two cruises. Tomorrow the ship will fill to capacity as we sail south to Vancouver, Canada.

Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend.

“Mooseketeer Jim”

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