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Gail's Quilting Blog

Coming to Alaska

Potter's Marsh

Potter’s Marsh

When Maret Anderson of Seams Like Home Quilt Shop in Anchorage first contacted me about teaching for her retreat, I was beyond excited!  We would be staying in a roadless area across the bay from Homer, called Halibut Cove.  Of course, I had never before heard of that place.   My second surprise occurred when I called Maret to confirm my flight arrangements.  I was planning to fly to Anchorage on June 5, the day before I began teaching.  Much to my surprise, Maret said, “Oh no!  You need to fly to Anchorage on June 2!” Then, she went on to explain all the birdly treats she had in store for the trip down to Halibut Cove as you will see in this series of posts.  My friend and colleague, Michele Hymel, had never been to Alaska before, so she decided to come along too.

Girls at Potters Marsh

Girl’s at Potter’s Marsh, Maret, Gail and Michele

So I packed my trusty spotting scope and tripod.  Arriving in Anchorage laaaaate evening, we went straight to bed.  Maret picked us up at 9 a.m. sharp and off we went, driving for a whole — 10 minutes!  That’s how far Potter’s Marsh is from Anchorage, one of the premier birding stops in southern Alaska.  We saw some amazing birds, like . . .

Red-necked Grebe

A nesting Red-necked Grebe, and

several nesting Mew Gulls

several nesting Mew Gulls

We probably spent a couple of hours only 10 minutes down the road.  But then, with our destination in mind – Homer – we set off down the road with plenty of leisure time for stopping, to look at birds, of course, but also Alaska specialty artists.

The Antler Shed at the Gem and Mineral shop

The Antler Shed at the Gem and Mineral shop

This particular shop took a fair amount of time as the rocks (not photographed here) were impressive as were some of the native carvings and the baleen woven baskets.  We did not dally too long and soon were back on the road.

Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Duck

Only to have me shout, “STOP!”, as we passed over a bridge.  There, right before my eyes, was the second and third Harlequin Ducks I had ever seen.  Found only in the far north, this pair was a rare discovery and a real treat.

Handed carved Wooden Urn

Handed carved Wooden Urn

Our next stop was a wood carving shop that held some unbelievable carved bowls and urns, the likes of which I had never before seen.  The shop owners quite friendly and gave us a tour of the carving workshop out back.  They even give classes in how to make these bowls.  If only the commute weren’t so long.

Moose near Ninilchik

Moose near Ninilchik

Finally, we turned south at Soldotna, meandering our way along the coastal highway and keeping a sharp eye out for wildlife.  Shortly after Maret showed us a stretch of beach, off the beaten path, that held probably 30 Bald Eagles, we were returning to the main road, when we all shouted in unison, “MOOSE!”  It was a female moose and her gangly legged baby who seemed to just be learning to use those long legs.  I couldn’t get a good photo though as Mama Moose was adept at blending  in with the shrubbery and also keeping her baby behind her.

Bald Eagle on nest

Bald Eagle on nest

In addition to the spectacular scenery, there was one final wildlife treasure to be seen.  As we rounded a corner on the highway, I looked over to see a large mass of sticks in a tree.   I hollered, “STOP” and we pulled over.  I knew it had to be the nest of a Bald Eagle, whether occupied or not.  So, I dragged out the scope, walked back along the shoulder of the highway, and set it up.  And, there she was, a huge female sitting on this year’s progeny!  This image gives you an idea of the massive structure that eagles can build, adding new sticks each year.  Some nests can be as much as 10-12 feet across and 10 feet deep.  What a wonderful way to end our first day in Alaska.

I think it only took 10 hours for us to complete the drive that normally take five!

Stay tuned for our Day 2 adventure — Homer and Surroundings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to “Coming to Alaska”

  1. Sally Gonzalez says:

    What a wonderful review–we took a trip a few years ago and my favorite stops were the quilt shops in Fairbanks and Homer–couldn’t believe such a nice quilt shop could be in such a remote area! Have fun and looking forward to more pics. We only had 3 flat tires on our little trailer.

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