One of the best and worst reasons to live up here is Kachemak Bay: best because it’s beautiful, and there are a million things to see and do on it, worst because most of the coolest stuff is across it. For a couple of n00b/broke mofo’s like we were last year, getting across the bay is prohibitively expensive.
For the entire 12 months of 2009, we managed to get on or across the bay exactly twice. The first was a $10/person trip around Gull Island during the Shorebird Festival in May. The second was our Grace Ridge camping trip. Other than those two events, we just looked wistfully at the water and wondered about the secrets hidden on the far shore.
This year, things are different. We are slightly less broke, which is good for many reasons, one being we might be able to afford a trip or two across. Even better, we are far more integrated into the community. That translates directly into more opportunities.
As of today, I’ve been on the bay more times in the past 5 days than I had the entirety of last year. 3 trips so far since Thursday. Total cost: $0.
Thursday, I was sent by the Tribune to participate in and take pictures of the annual halibut tagging quest. Every year, Homer has a halibut derby, where fisherpeople can purchase a derby ticket for the day, and if they catch a tagged fish, they win fabulous cash and prizes. Skippy also participated for Era Aviation (her employer), so we spent the day catching fish and enjoying the weather (sunny, cloudy, snow, rain, sunny, really sunny, cloudy).
Yesterday and today, I volunteered with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies to help teach marine ecology to school groups on a big tour boat as we cruised around the bay. We dropped a crab pot to catch tanner crab, caught plankton with jars attached to pantyhose, looked at said plankton under microscopes, tested the water for salinity and pH, learned about oyster farming in Kachemak Bay, and saw: otters, cormorants, murres, bald eagles, thousands of gulls and a pod of orcas.
Friday, CACS is sending Skippy and I over to video and photograph a group of local school kids as they explore the tide pools. Expect some interesting photos to be posted following that excursion!