Sarah and Michael enjoy a wildlife cruise through Resurrection Bay on Aug. 21.

Sarah and Michael enjoy a wildlife cruise through Resurrection Bay on Aug. 21.

Out of the Office: Finally feeling at home

Homer News reporter Sarah Knapp explores Alaska with Tennessee family.

My partner’s family came into town recently. While the thought of hosting in-laws would make many people I know fearful of the rest of this story, I was genuinely excited to welcome a piece of my Tennessee home here in Alaska.

His family is wonderful, and they were so excited for what this trip would bring. With all of our adventures, my favorite part had to be watching them experience Alaska for the first time. It’s a very surreal experience that can be overwhelming, which I would know considering I am still adjusting to it today.

It felt nice to not be the newest person, though, even if it was just for a week.

Hearing “I can’t believe we’re actually in Alaska” and “How does a place as beautiful as this even exist” as we explored the Kenai Peninsula reminded us that we live in an entirely different world compared to Tennessee. I still miss it sometimes, but Alaska has grown on me quickly. Ask me again this winter if I still feel that way, though.

As funny as it sounds, after living here for almost five months, I didn’t really feel like Alaska was my home until they came to see us. It all feels real now.

We decided to visit Seward during their trip, which was somewhere Michael and I hadn’t checked out yet. Believe me, we’ll be going back again soon if we can swing it. If the wildlife cruise we took wasn’t convincing enough that we should come back, the fantastic Reds #1 burger I had was.

The drive up Sterling Highway is always breathtaking, but the turn onto the Seward Highway left us all in awe. We knew there would be some incredible adventures in store for us as the Kenai River wound around the mountains, leading us to our destination.

Our trip to Seward began with a tour of the Alaska Sealife Center to learn about the wildlife that inhabit the water surrounding us. From watching seals chase each other around their habitat to touching sea urchins and starfish, the Sealife Center proved to be a great way to spend the afternoon. I could have spent the entire day sitting in front of the underwater seal enclosure watching them do flips in front of the glass. I honestly wish I had.

When we finally got to our AirBnB that night, I thought Michael’s dad was going to have a heart attack. It’s a good thing we stopped to get him a fishing license before hitting the road because the creek behind the house was full of more salmon than we’d ever seen in cans on the shelf at Walmart. That’s about the only way to find salmon in Nashville. While we had several more events planned for our time in Seward, his life would have been made had we left him there with his fishing pole.

A trip to Seward isn’t complete without a visit to the Kenai Fjords National Park and a sighting of Exit Glacier. I’m not much of a hiker myself as I tend to get hurt walking on flat pavement, but I genuinely enjoyed our small trek. We almost made it to the glacier overlook before turning around, so I hope we get to go back someday and finish the hike. Nonetheless, the photos we got of the glacier allowed us to see it up close without so many hikers around. I guess Alaska may be changing my mind on hiking considering most lead to an incredible view.

While all of these adventures were amazing individually, the absolute best part of our trip was the wildlife cruise we took around Resurrection Bay our last night there. We saw orcas, otters, seals, sea lions, puffins, jellyfish, icebergs, glaciers and so much more! Turns out being stuck on a boat in the middle of the bay for three hours is a great way to spend time with family.

By the time we made it back to Homer for the remainder of their trip, we were all exhausted and I had to go back to work. I loved coming home and listening to their tales from each day’s adventure. I think it’s safe to say they’ll eventually come back to see us again.

Hosting family in Alaska is something I never really thought would happen, so I’m glad they had a great time. Now they’re back to complaining about Tennessee’s summer heat and humidity, and I’ve never been more thankful to live in Alaska. Again, ask me this winter if I still feel that way.

Reach Sarah Knapp at sarah.knapp@homernews.com.

Sarah and Michael, along with family, hiked a trail to see Exit Glacier at the Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward.

Sarah and Michael, along with family, hiked a trail to see Exit Glacier at the Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward.

Michael, Sarah, Pete, Becky, Will and Margaret take a picture in front of Exit Glacier in Seward on Aug. 21.

Michael, Sarah, Pete, Becky, Will and Margaret take a picture in front of Exit Glacier in Seward on Aug. 21.

Sarah, Michael, Pete, Becky, Will and Margaret take a family picture in front of the Homer welcome sign on Baycrest.

Sarah, Michael, Pete, Becky, Will and Margaret take a family picture in front of the Homer welcome sign on Baycrest.

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