Homer’s Best Bets

The Juneau artist William Spear designed a special pin for 2020: a flaming trash Dumpster. That seemed to be the symbol of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, but boy howdy it worked for 2021 as well.

Here’s hoping for no Dumpster fires this year — or, at least, little ones that a volunteer firefighter passing by could put out quickly with a fire extinguisher.

Here in the first week of the new year, things started off just dandy as long as you weren’t trying to fly back from Outside and had a good supply of firewood. The Betster heard a horror story of a neighbor stuck in Maui who can’t get home for a whole week. Holy flip flops! What happens if you run out of clean Aloha shirts?

The cold weather that snuck in last weekend has reminded we Banana Belters about the true suffering our northern friends endure. Can you believe it got down to zero? That’s like spring in Fairbanks. Nonetheless, we persevered, even if we had to double up on the longjohns and throw another comforter on the bed.

Those winds let up just enough to let a few flights come in from Anchorage and — better yet — the fourth annual Fireworks Fantastical happen. The Betster got a good view from Ocean Drive away from the Spit crowds and it turned out to be a fine show even from a distance.

Will the pandemic fade away? Will the economy bounce back stronger? Will we return to a semblance of normal? Will we be able to travel safely and not have to camp out in strange airports? As the joke goes, “Do you know how to make God laugh? Make plans.” Try to have some fun anyway, perhaps with these best bets:

BEST FIRST FRIDAY BET: While many art galleries are not hosting First Friday events this month, Homer Council on the Arts and Ptarmigan Arts are featuring new artists! At HCOA, Dr. Sami Ali of Anchorage presents “The Mind of A Healthcare Worker During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which came about from her experience as an emergency room physician and an artist. The show will be up at HCOA until Jan. 31 and then it will move over to the South Peninsula Hospital gallery for February. HCOA is the only gallery hosting a First Friday event, however, Ptarmigan Arts has added several new members in the past four months and invites visitors to come see their contributions to the gallery. They include Diane Briggs, wildlife photography; Sarah Sims, graffito pottery; Kim Schuster, marine themed watercolors and wood carvings; and Jean Steele, paintings, jewelry and wall hangings. Ptarmigan will not have extended First Friday hours in January, but they are open every day of the week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

BEST VIGIL FOR DEMOCRACY BET: The Homer Unitarian Universalists will host a Vigil for Democracy at Wisdom, Knowledge, Friendship and Love Park from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, Jan. 6 in recognition of the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Capitol insurrection. Americans across race, place, party, and background are holding candlelight vigils to say: In America, the voters decide the outcome of elections. To prevent this kind of attack from happening again, advocates are demanding that elected leaders pass urgent legislation including the Freedom to Vote Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and D.C. Statehood. This event in Homer is one of more than 175 events that will take place across the country, including at the U.S. Capitol. Signs and placards condemning the insurrection at the Capitol and in support of democracy will be available at WKFL Park. For more information, contact Hal Shepherd at uuhomer@gmail.com or 907-491-1355.

BEST GET OUTSIDE BET: Last weekend’s storm canceled the First Day Ski & Snowshoe at Eveline State Recreation Area, so we’ll try again at noon this Saturday, Jan 8. Join Alaska State Park & Friends of Kachemak Bay State Parks for the first ski and snowshoe of the year — a week late. Meet at noon and guides will lead you on skis and snowshoes around the beautiful Eveline trails.

Or, volunteer to be a guide. Hot drinks, hot dogs, sweets, finger foods provided. Bring your skis, snowshoes and water bottle. Dogs must be on a leash. Donations welcome. Directions: drive 13.8 miles on East End Road, watch for the State Park signs and turn left at Alpine Meadow Drive. Go about .3 miles and pullout on the left.

BEST WYNNTER SUNDAY FUNDAY: Join the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies at the Wynn Nature Center this Sunday from 1-3 p.m. for the first Wynnter Sunday of the year! Bring the whole family out and learn about fire building for free. Snowshoe rentals will be available for free. For more information, call 907-235-6667.

BEST WASTE REMOVAL BET: The Homer Transfer Facility is hosting a Hazardous Waste Collection Day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday. This event is for households and small businesses. All businesses must pre-register with NRC Alaska. Households with 55 gallons or more total must also pre-register. NRC Alaska manages this event; the Kenai Peninsula Borough Solid Waste Dept. provides the location. For specific questions regarding disposal, fees and to pre-register, call NRC Alaska at 877-375-5040. For general questions, call Kenai Peninsula Borough Solid Waste Dept. at 907-262-9667.

“The cold never bothered me anyways” … OK, maybe it does
The icy view of Kachemak Bay and the Homer Spit is enough to make any person shiver from the recent cold weather. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)

“The cold never bothered me anyways” … OK, maybe it does The icy view of Kachemak Bay and the Homer Spit is enough to make any person shiver from the recent cold weather. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)