One Man's Alaska

The long drive to Homer

September 26, 2008

As I took the long drive out of Homer yesterday, I realized for the fourth time what a beat-down that drive is. The first couple times I thought it was just me, but man, that drive wears me out. So instead of driving on to Talkeetna yesterday as planned, I decided to just take a break and stop here in Anchorage.

I think there are several reasons for the beat-down. First, it's roughly a four-hour drive, so it's not something you want to do too often anyway. Second, it's a narrow, two-lane road almost the entire way, and the traffic is heavier on this road than almost any other road I've been on in rural Alaska. That's not to say that's it's heavy, but there is always someone else nearby, so the chances of spotting wildlife are remote. Third, though you could easily drive faster in most spots, the speed limit is 55 MPH most of the way.

Fourth --  and I think this is the kicker -- the scenery along the road from the point where it splits off from Highway 1 near Hope Junction is, um, boring. Okay, it's probably better to look at than 95% of the USA, but compared to everything else here it's a snooze.

That's not to say there aren't a few highlights. The green water of Cooper River is incredible. And after you pass Soldotna and Ninilchik on the way to Homer, if the sky is clear the two mountains on the right side of the road are gorgeous. But where the rest of the drive down from Anchorage to Hope Junction has you in the valley between the mountains or otherwise surrounded by water, the terrain here is all flat.

So, getting to my point: I'm not a big fan of taking the driving trip to Homer, Alaska. Homer is a cool little town, similar to Seward, and probably a little cleaner than Seward. But if you're thinking about driving to Homer just to visit for a day or two, I'd discourage you from doing that.

If you drive to Homer, you're really going to pay a mental price on this drive, and if you only have a week here I wouldn't do it. For me the beat-down of the drive outweighs the beauty that is Homer, and if you're just coming to Homer for a day, you're going to lose a full day just driving back and forth, and the drive to Seward is shorter and more attractive. There are a few more shops in Homer than in Seward, but if you're coming for the land and not the shopping I'd take Seward.

On the other hand, if you're coming to Homer because you want to get to Halibut Cover, or hop a plane a to Kodiak Island, the long drive to Homer may be worth the price.

And finally, if you just have to shop, yes, Homer does have a few more stores than Seward. (But please don't come to Alaska to go shopping.)

Okay, that's my honest opinion. To try to end this on an upbeat note I'll include a picture here of the trees and water near Cooper River, Alaska.

Near Cooper River, Alaska

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