Homer’s Best Bets

Worried that Homer had settled into a nice, calm stable weather pattern? Did you fear that our reputation as the banana belt of Alaska had been tarnished after that little subzero cold spell over the weekend? Holy goose down! Once again we had to dip into our coat closet and find just the right jacket for life in a coastal maritime climate. Big fluffy parka or light pile jacket? Decisions.

The weather wobbled all over the place last week. The average temperature was 22 degrees, with a high of 42 degrees on Jan. 23 and a low of 2 degrees on Jan. 27. Miami or Minneapolis? Yeah, the Betster got confused, too. One day we had rain that put puddles on Beluga Lake and another day a cold snap flipped that into ice. Who needs to hot mop the lake for ice skating when Ma Nature does it for you?

And it wasn’t just the lakes that had ice. Someone on Facebook posted a video of kids ice skating on the brand new Homer High School track, which the Betster is pretty sure is a big school district no-no. Heck, ice lurks beneath what you think might be a nice solid base of snow, only to find it’s a mere dusting. The chatter at local coffee shops has shifted from sewer and water rates to the best ice cleats. Citizens, conditions may have regressed from cleats to crampons. Get out your ice axes.

Well, if you got through Wednesday’s winter warning, we might be getting back into the same old, same old: cloudy, chance of snow, lows in the 20s and highs in the 30s. Cheer up, though: Alaska Marmot Day is Saturday, which means we’re halfway to spring, cause enough to celebrate with these Best Bets:


BEST HAPPENING HISTORY BET: If you were born after the end of the Vietnam War 40 years ago, count your blessings — that was a pretty rocky period in American history. Learn why in a talk at 7 p.m. today at Kachemak Bay Campus by history professor Michael Hawfield, “The Political, Social and Historical Ramifications of the Vietnam War.” It’s part of the Big Read of Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War novel, “The Things They Carried.”


BEST MAGIC TRAILS BET: After every big snowfall, a miracle happens. Beautiful ski trails mysteriously appear on the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club trails. Well, of course there’s no mystery — that’s the work of the groomers up at dawn. Celebrate their good efforts with the Groomer’s Ball at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Alaska Ridgetop Inn on Diamond Ridge. Dinner with jambalaya and gumbo is by Fritz Creek Kitchen and Ray-Jen Cajun provides the music. Tickets are $45, available at the Homer Bookstore or online through kachemaknordicskiclub.org.


BEST XX GAMES BET: Uh, that’s XX as in X chromosomes, which women have two of. Head to Lookout Mountain Trails on Sunday for the 10th annual Ski for Women, a fun women’s cross-country ski race. There’s a costume contest and other events. Registration starts at noon and the ski at 1 p.m. A $10 donation benefits South Peninsula Haven House.


BEST SLIP SLIDING BET: While at Ohlson Mountain on Sunday, go before or after the Ski for Women and mix downhill with cross-country at the Ohlson Mountain Rope Tow. It’s open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mile 2.5 Ohlson Mountain Road. Call 235-SNOW or check Facebook “Homer Rope Tow” for updates. Lift tickets are $10 adults and $5 for students 18 and under.


BEST UP IN THE AIR AND BELOW THE SEA BET: Can you tell the age of an eagle in flight or know what kind of crabs a sea otter ate? Learn about “Alaska’s Coastal Birds and Marine Mammals” at a Discovery Lab from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. Kachemak Bay Research Reserve scientists show what they’re learning about the habits and habitats of Alaska’s coastal birds and marine mammals. Free.