Alaskan vacations are generally busy. Fishing, camping, hiking, biking; many of us consider the kinetic aspects of getting away in the 49th state to be just that. It’s easy, sometimes, to forget about the slower pace found in much of rural Alaska for all the brochures advertising the “get-going” sort of adventure tour.
Our family, for all its hustling and bustling around, takes an annual time-out each summer at the end of the Sterling Highway in Homer. Snuggling in at the charming Homer Seaside Cottages in “Old Homer”, just down the street from famed Two Sister’s Bakery and equally famous Bishop’s Beach, AKontheGO takes a decidedly slower pace to daily exploring. For the second year in a row, however, we’ve taken the concept of “chillin’” to a whole new level with the discovery of sleepy Seldovia.
Located across Kachemak Bay from Homer, Seldovia’s population alone lends reason to visit. With around 265 souls residing in this hamlet of tranquility, Seldovia is the site of welcoming smiles, lazy walks, and stunning scenery. Alaskan to the very core, residents here know the value of, as the city’s visitor booklet states, “finding the perfect something, or nothing, to do.” Indeed. Our crew of nine caught a Mako’s Water Taxi around 8:30 a.m. and motored 45 minutes across the smooth waters of K-Bay to the Seldovia Boat Harbor where our skipper and his first mate, a dog named Daisy, promised to return promptly at 5 p.m. Thus left with a day to explore on foot, we took advantage of sunny skies and energetic children to make tracks for the city’s accessible trail systems.
A favorite of AK Fam is the aptly-named “Otterbahn” trail, beginning on a hill near the local school and traversing along the wide ridge to Outside Beach, a 1.5 mile hike one way. Easy for kids and parents, the trail weaves through giant spruce trees and placid meadows, crossing a slough before terminating at a beautiful beach just right for rock-throwing, picnicking, and just plain loafing. Otters poked curious heads out of the water to watch our silly kids who shouted and climbed and tossed pebbles around. The grownups took photos and marveled at the quiet slap-slap of waves whose music was only interrupted by the occasional small plane (the Seldovia airport is not far from the beach) or boat motor.
With kids, however, comes intense hunger after such a morning of activity, and fortunately the Tide Pool Cafe in the Seldovia Harbor was not too busy. Popular due to its location and friendly service, the Tide Pool offers kid-pleasing menu items and wait staff who understand how it is to wrangle a youngster while sipping a pale ale. Books and interesting table displays make wait time easier, and passing boats in the harbor keep children busy.
Seldovia knows it doesn’t take much to make kids happy, and they’ve supplied both resident and visiting families with little Lollipop Park right next to the harbor. A fenced-in playground provides fun for kids under 10 or so, and a picnic table for parents to catch boats coming and going, or fishermen pursuing the current salmon run.
A short walk around the historic boardwalk, a quick stop at the local bookstore/coffee shop/pottery barn, and 5 p.m. came quickly. Climbing onto the aluminum boat, where Daisy Dog welcomed us with quiet wags of her tail, the kids donned life jackets and settled into their plastic deck chairs for the short return trip to Homer. In about two minutes both were snoring, lulled to sleep by the gentle waves and humming motor.
Skipper asked us about our day, and I replied, “It was fantastic.”
“What did you do?” he asked.
“Oh, just took a hike or two and wandered around,” I replied.
“Good,” said Skipper. “I wish more people would do that when they come over here.”
How right he was.