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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Seward, Homer and Peterson Bay – Community Service Alaska

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Hello to our friends and family following our trip back home!

The past several days have been full of fun adventures in Seward, Homer, and Peterson Bay! Our final day staying in Cooper Landing was on July 3rd. That day we traveled to the Kenai Fjords National Park in the Chugach National Forest to hike up to Exit Glacier. We learned that the glacier has been receding a lot in recent years, and saw the difference in pictures from 1998 to now. Tibbon, Mike, and Daniel had a lot of fun seeing who could throw rocks into the holes in the glacier. The park was beautiful, with phenomenal views of the forest and foggy Kenai Mountains. After having a glamorous photo shoot on the glacier, we headed over to the Iditaride Sled Dog Tours nearby. There, we met real Iditarod sled mushers who taught us all about the race history and route. We were taken into the woods where many different sled dogs are kept—they got so excited when they realize they’re about to go out for a ride. which they were! We all had a ride on a wheeled cart pulled by a team of sled dogs! We learned about all the gear the musher has to bring along with him for the dogs and about the giant boots and coat he or she has to wear. Josh even modeled a coat and boots for us!

After the ride our group met some adorable 3-week old puppies! They were precious. The blonde puppy especially loved Brooke. While there we also met Buddy, the gigantic retired sled dog that sits on his own throne (check out the pictures!) That night, we ate dinner at Salmon Bake, a restaurant that’s well known for the salmon that is caught fresh from Resurrection Bay (where we recently kayaked). I think everyone enjoyed his or her meal and free jumbo pickle! Our group has been playing the game GOTCHA (where each member of the trip is assigned another member that they have to ‘get’ by showing them a sock and saying “Gotcha”).
Most people got ‘out’ during the first few days of the game. These last few days though it was down to the wire with Dakota, Josh, Erin, and Lisa still in the game. But in the end, Lisa dominated the game, getting Erin, Dakota, and Josh out! Way to go Lisa!

Our group traveled to the seaside town of Homer on the 4th of July where we checked in at Mossy’s Seaside Farm to stay for two nights (interesting fact: Mossy is the aunt to the famous singer Jewel!) Our group got to stay in her large farmhouse that is right by the beach. Evan built a superb fire for us at the fire pit and we all had a delicious treat of s’mores.

The next day we headed to the Wynn Nature Center in Homer for a day of service. The guides at the center had two projects for our group to work on. The first project was tearing down and replacing an old boardwalk trail through a bog. The second was clearing an area full of brush and dead roots, which will eventually be turned into a natural playground area for kids. Josh showed off his sawing skills and Chris, Alec, and Monica dug out the old section of the boardwalk like champs, not minding the mud. Meanwhile, Daniel, Lindsey, Tibbon, Evan, Mike, Ali and Perri charmed our guide Curtis to the point where he made us brownies! The guides were extremely grateful for the help we gave them at the end of the day. The next day we got to sleep in at Mossy’s and pack up for our trip to Peterson Bay!

Alaska

Before taking the boat to the bay we got to spend some time out on the “spit”, a section of Homer that juts out into Katchemak Bay and is filled with eclectic little shops, eateries, and cafes.  It is a really interesting part of town, right by the harbor. We then took a boat out to Peterson Bay, where we currently are staying at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies. When we arrived at Peterson Bay we met our amazing guides, Katie and Loretta, who have been teaching us all sorts of things about nature and sea life! Here, we’ve been staying in yurts, which are like large luxury tents, equipped with heaters! The first night here we got a little tour of the center, which is like a big house, complete with a kitchen and living area. The center is right on the bay, where the tides rise and lower each day. We’ve been enjoying the slower pace out here, learning about the coast and tides, working on our service projects, and consuming endless cups of delicious tea! The leaders have given the trip members a challenge to ‘unplug’ during this short section of the trip and instead to ‘plug in’ to nature and the people around them. Mike, Gabe, Tibbon, Chris, Mano, Erin, and Alec have all impressively spent their time phone-less while camping here!

In the mornings at the center Loretta and Katie have been taking our group tide-pooling. We head out while the tide is low to walk around on the ocean floor and find interesting sea creatures. We’ve seen lots of crabs, sea stars, sea cucumbers, anemones, urchins, and even an octopus! Katie and Loretta are experts, explaining information about each creature our members find. Monica found out that the starfish like clinging to fleece! One clung onto her sweater! Chris enjoyed sweet-talking the crabs, Dakota held a Butter Clam, and Alec found more sea stars than anyone (and knows they aren’t called starfish!) In the afternoons at the center we’ve been working on several projects. Some of our trip members worked on creating a mosquito-free section of the deck by sewing a mosquito net. Others worked on adding netting to the deck stairs so visitors don’t slip when they’re wet. Some helped dig up and replace rotten spots on the boardwalk, and others wacked and chopped the foliage that had overgrown on the trails.We also added our creative touch to the inside of the center, decorating the kitchen and mud-room with paintings and quotes. Lindsey proved to be an excellent nail-hammerer. She replaced four or five boards on the boardwalk in just a couple minutes! Lisa, Josh, Monica, Alec and Travis worked hard on the stairs to the deck, they worked until the tide came in and they couldn’t anymore! Chris, Dakota, and Daniel sketched and painted some awesome outdoor scenes in the kitchen, the place looks great! Mike, Beth, Erin, and Mano went to town on the trail, cutting back all the over grown branches they could find!

Tomorrow we will head back to Anchorage for some more service projects at the Boys and Girls Club. We’ll be staying in the dorms at the university again, and seeing the sights of the city.
Hope all is well back home! Can you believe we only have 6 days left?!

The Westcoast Blogger