A Local's Guide to Homer Arts & Culture
Dana Stabenow was born in Anchorage, raised on a 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska, and now lives in Homer. She is the author of numerous mystery, suspense/thriller, and science fiction novels, including the Kate Shugak mystery series. The 22nd book in the Kate Shugak series was published in early 2020. Learn more about Dana Stabenow.
Homer is small, it's quiet, and it's just across the bay from Seldovia, where I grew up. It is heart-stoppingly, gob-smackingly beautiful. Through my windows I can see the lower Cook Inlet from Kachemak to Kamishak bays and four active volcanoes. Friends show up on my doorstep with fresh-caught salmon and halibut, and when I'm really lucky, a moose tongue. I am wealthy beyond dreams of avarice just to live here.
I write in my office at home and my friend Don keeps threatening to sneak over here late at night and paint all my windows black, because he doesn't see how I can get any work done with that view to distract me. But being a writer in Homer is like being a writer anywhere else in the world. You get the job done by putting your butt in the chair and your hands on the keyboard and not getting up again until you're done for the day.
Favorite Place to Find Books
My favorite bookstore is The Homer Bookstore, hands down. It's one of those wonderful little small town general interest bookstores. It's sort of like "Cheers," where everybody knows your name, only at the Homer Bookstore everybody also knows what you like to read and can recommend books they know you'll like. There is an entire bookshelf devoted to staff picks, with shelf talkers to tell you why the reader liked them, and once a year another entire shelf is given over to a display of the previous year's bestsellers.
Favorite Place to Read Them
I love taking a book and lunch down to the beach, building a fire and sitting down with my back to a driftwood log. I love the sound the rocks make when the surf throws them up on shore. I love looking up from my book to see the halibut charters going out to fish and coming home again.
There is something in the Homer culture that encourages excellence in music and also invites superb musicians of every stripe to perform here. One of the guys who built my bookshelves is a guitar player who has appeared on Mountain Stage. I saw a young Irish band called Slide at the Homer Theater that was phenomenal. I've never heard better, not even in Ireland. And the theater even figured out a way to serve draft beer during the concert. That was a good night. Other recommendations: sailing with the Homer Yacht Club, attending one or all of the hundred events associated with the annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, especially if Mr. Whitekeys, a notorious birder, is performing somewhere during it.
Two Sisters Bakery has great sweet and savory breakfast pastries. Sometimes on Saturday mornings I'll call as soon as I get up to ask them to save me a cinnamon roll with no frosting. And then I can go walk it off on Bishop's Beach, as access is just seconds down the road. I cook so I don't eat out a lot, but if I have company I'll always take them out at least once to Land's End for good bar food and the view of Poot Peak. Not to mention that sea otter hanging off the end of the Spit.
For an adventure that doesn’t involve a boat, I’d recommend the Diamond Creek Trail. It ends on the beach and at low tide you can walk all the way to Anchor Point (or back to Homer) if you want to. For an adventure that involves a boat, my favorite always and ever is to go across the bay to Seldovia, where I'll walk to the Outside Beach. For an outing that involves an airplane, I like going bear watching with Gary Porter (a friend from childhood) at Bald Mountain Air.
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