Best Bets

Last weekend the first cruise ships of the season pulled into Juneau, and what did Homer get? A big gray ship armed with enough missiles to flatten every town on the Kenai Peninsula, that’s what. Last Saturday the Betster went out to the Spit and got a bit confused. Much of the town showed up to wave flags and toot horns and welcome the first big ship of the season — but it wasn’t a gleaming white floating hotel.

Holy Amazing Grace! We’re talking USS Hopper, DDG 70, 505 feet of lean, kick-butt military fighting machine. Juneau gets Holland America. We get the United States Navy. Bonus: Hopper is named after Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, known as the mother of computing for her pioneering work in computer sciences. Her crew doesn’t live in luxury suites with two staterooms and three heads, but berths packed with 18 racks — and that’s for the junior officers.

Hopper’s sailors aren’t the only visitors from Hawaii who’ve arrived here. Last Friday the Betster went out for a little early bird peeping and spotted a Pacific golden plover at Louie’s Lagoon on the Spit. This weekend we’ll see more shorebirds, perhaps tens of thousands, for the annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. Along with them will come birders, world travelers who can tell the difference at 100 yards between a killdeer and a semipalmated plover. They’re tough, those birders, as you’ll see when the rain blows sideways and they’re still out there.

We’re not quite into summer, not yet, and winter still doesn’t want to let go, eh? But the snow at the higher elevations melts daily, the crocuses have bloomed and soon enough birch and alder and willow will have leaves. Bask in the sun and enjoy this marvelous season with these Best Bets:

BEST ALL ABOUT THE BIRDS BET: For a list of fun shorebird events, see page 1. This weekend, it’s all birds, all the time.

BEST EXCEPT FOR ART BET: OK, it’s First Friday, too, so check out the art openings on page 8. Don’t miss West Homer Elementary School’s big all-student art show, with artist statements and even audio descriptions.

BEST PERFECT COMBO BET: Beer and oysters. Yeah, that’s the perfect appetizer combo for Homer. Enjoy loal oysters and beer from 4-8 p.m. Saturday at the Kachemak Bay Shellfish Coop on the Spit for a fundraiser for the Kevin Bell Ice Arena.

BEST GET SMART BET: Learn about Alaska’s educational issues and how we prepare kids for the future across this big state when Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson speaks for the noon Tuesday Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center luncheon at Beluga Lake Lodge. Lunch is $15; RSVP at 235-7740.

BEST IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK BET: Or is that what you don’t think? Need a little quiet and calm in your life? Check out Floating Leaf Sangha’s meditation from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Many Rivers Cedar House on East End Road. Relax.