By DAVID GREEN
A few weeks back I re-printed an old By the Way column from 20 years ago about the newspapers from Alaska that I was receiving.
I had a newspaper exchange going at the time that emerged from a visit to Alaska. I stopped in at a newspaper office in Anchorage and introduced myself to the editor of a chain of small weeklies. One of us must have suggested an exchange and the deal came out heavily in my favor. They received one Observer a week for many months; I was given four or five papers from around the state. Fascinating stuff.
I did the same thing in the city of Homer and I received a paper from there, also. Homer seemed tame compared to some of the others. There was some odd stuff going on there, but it just never matched a location like Dutch Harbor on the island of Unalaska, out on the Aleutian Chain.
Dutch Harbor seemed like a cross between the wild frontier and a place where a lot of people are going a little nuts out in the ocean with nowhere to go and not a lot to do other than getting involved in really weird stuff.
The old column that I reprinted was primarily a summary of dog news from little Alaska towns. When the issue finally made its way to Homer where Fayette native Allan Crawford lives, he decided to write a letter and give me an update about how things are in Homer.
What I remember most about Homer are the eagles. Walk out onto the spit in Kachemak Bay and they are everywhere, more common than a southern Michigan cardinal. Here’s an update that I have for Allan: I wouldn’t be as impressed anymore. I saw two eagles near Morenci last week. The one picking at a deer carcass alongside M-156 north of town was the closest I have even been to an eagle since leaving Homer.
Allan reported that Homer had a pretty good earthquake in January. He lives inland and there were no worries about a tsunami wave for him, but he got shook up.
Allan says that Homer is quite the fishing destination with a large influx of tourists in warmer weather. Yes, I recall extensive coverage of halibut fishing tournaments.
Homer isn’t quite what many people think of when they picture Alaska. It’s much warmer than inland locations and averages only five inches of snow on the ground, according to the city website. Overall, they get about three times more snow than this area, but there’s a little rain in the forecast this week. For a brief moment on Jan. 14, the temperature in some southern Alaska areas was warmer than in Key West, Fla.
“Even with the changing climate, there are still good winter activities in the uplands,” Allan wrote.
There are fools who enjoy paddle-boarding and para-sailing year around. It’s mild enough for robins to winter over in the area.
Looking through the newspapers that Allan sent, I begin to wonder how anyone can afford to live in Homer. Parcels of land there cost as much as houses here. There’s a little cabin selling for $175,000.
Homer might soon get its first marijuana cultivation facility—Alaska Loven It. The building is located in an area described as “a mixture of moose and wildlife habitat” along with houses ranging from “dry cabins” to expensive homes overlooking the bay.
Here’s something I find interesting about Homer, and it comes from the obituaries. Those always interest me.
In one edition of the Homer News, the people listed were born in Honolulu, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Grassy Lake, Alberta. Another week it was Jamestown, N.Y., Van Buren, Ark., Gunnison, Col., and Hollywood, Cal.
I read a few more online and saw Buffalo, N.Y., Seattle, Salt Lake City, Fort Sill, Okla., Switzerland, Portland, Ore., and Pawtucket, R.I. It seems that most everyone comes from somewhere else.
Allan is one more of those people from somewhere else who discovered Homer and just couldn’t leave.
When he encounters someone from Michigan—and there are quite a few—he always asks if they know where Munson is located. He’s surprised by how many people do. He uses that location to point out where he came from.
“I tell them I grew up in a suburb of Munson,” he said.