On the Road Adventures

Saturday, July 18, 2009

July 18 - Homer Day 3

We had a rainy day today. Just had to say something about it, didn’t I? It wasn’t terribly cold, in the mid 50’s but with the damp and slight wind it was a little chillish. I’ve been wanting to check out the art galleries in Homer, so I left Gerry to keep the dog company and went gallery prowling. I found some neat small prints of wildlife drawings I liked, and lots of bigger, much more expensive stuff I also liked but didn’t buy.

We had the guided walk of Homer on our schedule for today, so I picked Gerry up and we met the docent (who was more reliable than the one scheduled for yesterday) and got the guided tour of Homer. We learned that the front building of the Salty Dawg was the original building on the Homer Spit and dates from the end of the 19th century. It started life as the office building for a coal company located at the end of the spit. There is a great deal of soft coal here, and three prospectors hoped to make an easier living selling coal to steamships. But it turned out that because the coal was so soft, when it was all piled up it tended to spontaneously combust. Few steamships found that an admirable trait, so the company went out of business, but one of the owners did give his name to the town.

Then after WWII, residents decided to create a harbor at the end of the spit, and the fishing and packing industry caught on at Homer. While there’s no cannery there now, there are a lot of fishing boats harbored there for both the commercial and tourist trade. Our guide explained the differences between a halibut boat and boats designed for catching salmon, cod or crab. This boat is for catching halibut.

Instead of a cannery there’s an outfit there that specializes in processing, freezing and shipping the tourists’ catches, and on a good day during the fishing season they might ship out as much as 15,000 pounds of fish. Here we were, chilled to the bone from the cold, and the kids who were working in the processing plant were wearing shorts and t-shirts and working with icy fish in icy water and a -40 degree freezer unit. Tough kids!

After our tour we went back to one of the galleries because an artist I admire, Barbara Lavallee was going to be there doing a signing. When we were in Alaska last time, I bought one of her little prints of native women weaving hats that has been on the wall over my computer ever since. It’s just one of those cheery works that makes the soul happy to look at. So I was pleased to have the chance to meet her and I got a couple of prints, a book and a calendar she personalized with some of her sketches. So now I have a treasure from Alaska.

No comments: