The Alaska and U.S. flags fly at half staff on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer, Alaska. President Joe Biden on Monday ordered flags to be flown at half staff at federal facilities for five days to honor the 500,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

The Alaska and U.S. flags fly at half staff on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer, Alaska. President Joe Biden on Monday ordered flags to be flown at half staff at federal facilities for five days to honor the 500,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Best Bets

It’s hard to believe we’re already two months into 2021, but here we are. After Sunday, February will be all over except for the snow shoveling. If you live up in the hills, that could keep you busy until May. Meanwhile, the daylight hours get longer and longer and though snow keeps falling in small dustings, maybe — just maybe — we won’t see any more big dumps.

Seasoned Alaskans know to take winter in small doses. First comes the celebration of the winter solstice, when daylight hours start getting longer. Then it’s Alaska Marmot Day, when we’re halfway between the solstice and the equinox. Though the shortest month, February feels like rounding the corner.

Bushes and trees start getting that warm glow in their twigs. Temperatures keep rising, and hopefully we won’t see anything below 10 degrees until next fall. The ski and snowmachine trails are setting up nicely. We’ll get some get minus tides. Whew. Enjoy the best time of winter ever with these best bets:

BEST ICY BET: Public skating is back! If you’ve been missing the chance to get out on the ice, but not outdoors at a lake, head to the Kevin Bell Ice Arena this weekend for the return of its public skating events. Public skate is open at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Friday and at 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday. If you don’t make it out this weekend though, don’t fear.! These sessions will continue through the end of March. Pre-registration for public skate is required to reserve one of 40 spots available each session. Skating costs $5 per person, with skate rental included. You can register online at kevinbellarena.org. Masks are required by all people at all times for public skating, even when on the ice.

BEST SNOWY BET: Wynn-ter Sunday Family FUNdays continue from 1-3 p.m. Sunday at the Carl E. Wynn Nature Center on East Skyline Drive. Free for all. Snowshoes are provided, two firepits will be going to keep you warm and safely distanced, with s’more kits for a tasty treat. Self guided or naturalist led hikes and activities are held every Sunday through March. With longer daylight, there is plenty of snow up on the bluff. Some of the upcoming activities include learning how to identify birds that visit your backyard, make fire starters, explore snow science, off trail snow crust snowshoeing, building snow caves and more. Snowshoes are also available to rent at CACS headquarters at 708 Smokey Bay Way for $5 per pair for a 3-day rental. Rentals for members are free. If you have made a donation to CACS , you are a member. Please bring a mask/face-covering. They are required indoors at Wynn and when people are within 6 feet of non-household members. Please do not participate if you or anyone in your family is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.

BEST THAT’S “SNOWMACHINES” BET: The poor Washington Post Tik-Tok guy got the burn when he called them “snowmobiles.” We Alaskans know better, of course. Feel the need for speed? Join this Saturday’s Snomads Snowmachine Fun Run. It starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday from McNeil Canyon Elementary School off East End Road. The event features 70 miles of trail riding with new routes and seven checkpoints. It will finish between noon and 2 p.m. and includes drawings and prizes. Registration ends at noon on Friday. Register a local power sports dealers All Seasons Honda and Peninsula Ski-Doo, Homer Saw and Cycle and Lower Peninsula Power Sports. For more information visit snomadsonline.org/funrun2021.htm.

People walk their dogs at sunset on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, at Bishop’s Beach in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

People walk their dogs at sunset on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, at Bishop’s Beach in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

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