Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

At Home in Homer

My Junior Prom date(and current boyfriend to my good friend Rachael) Tommy's parents lived in Alaska for seven years. They said it just sort of happened. They warned me that I should not move up to Alaska unless I was prepared to stay up here for at least a few years. They warned me that most people living in Alaska just came for short visit and found themselves never wanting to leave.
I couldn't understand this form of thinking pre-Homer. Now...now I get it. If I could stay in Homer permanently I would. I would absolutely live here for at least a few years to forever. Unfortunately the cost of living here is ridiculously inflated. Even more so than the average ridiculous inflation in Alaska in general. I find myself becoming increasingly bummed that I will be leaving Homer at the end of May. I'm just starting to get into the swing of things. I keep meeting cool and interesting people. I have only met one person who is originally from here, so my standard opening question is, "Where ya from originally?" Most of my clothes have Michigan State, Pistons, or Tigers scrawled across the chest in large letters ruining my answer to the question.
Since moving up here I have only left Homer once and it was to go to the town of Soldotna for some shopping. While there I ran into a girl from my high school whom I hadn't seen since my graduation in 2002. Neither of us knowing that the other had moved to Alaska.
Alaska genuinely has some cool people. I think Homer my have more than the average. This is an artist colony so many people are very involved in the arts. Despite only have around 5,000 people I am never lacking interesting cultural events. There are many art galleries in town. On the first Friday of each month they have something called First Friday(Clever I know) where all the galleries put out their new displays and have catered food and the artists come and give talks about their work. This past Friday I attended one about the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Oil Spill. It was fascinating as people's emotions ran high. I was coolly detached always thinking it was a tragedy but never having any personal connection to it.
Every Friday night there is a free foreign film at the college in town. It can be a bit hit or miss but overall I have been happy with the films, also there is free popcorn...if you know me you know Popcorn is my favorite food. There is a regular movie theater too that gets the movies a couple months after they originally came out.
There is a theatre in town and many grand productions that go on at the high school.They bring in artists from all around to perform.I saw an amazing one woman show called Wong flew over the Cucoos nest. On my birthday I attended one of the big events of the year-Jazzline. A monster-sized Dance recital. It was great! I'm hoping to start taking dance lesson from one of the stars of the show soon.
On top of this cool arts community there is very cool brewing community here. There is brewery, Meadery, and winery-wine in Alaska...yeppers and pretty good too. They all host events that are quite fun to introduce a new flavor. One Saturday there was a Home-brew competition. A five dollar donation got you a cup and all the beer you could drink. If you brought your own cup you could drink for free-something to know. These weren't just regular home-brews these were the best of the best. There was a Chocolate Hazelnut one brought down by a guy from Nome who has won tons of National competitions. It was amazing. There was also a large selection of Meads. At the end of the night my original group(a group of people I met just by sitting at their table, I only sat there because a guy had a Flint shirt on) had all left so I went out and stood where they were holding all the beers. I asked the man who was officially in charge to make me a little crate of all the beers that had already been judged by the judges meaning they were free to be drank by everyone. He did and when he left I suddenly became the de facto leader of the beers. Telling people what ones they could drink and giving my suggestions, pumping the keg, and filling their cups to the brim. I love being next to the keg, you meet everyone that way. This was something Tom and I figured out early in college that being in charge of the keg was where you wanted to be early on to meet everyone. The people were fun and energetic at the end of the night when the awards were given out.
There are quite a few bars in town. One even has a craft night. Most of them feature cool local bands most nights of the week. The music scene in this little town is awesome and only suppose to get better in the summer.
There is a cool Coffee Shop called All Hopped Up. I love drinking coffee from there and than saying I'm all hopped up. I am well aware of how dorky that is.
When I first arrived there wasn't much sun, however Michigan doesn't have much sun in January either. The good thing is the days get longer at an amazing rate. Now I would argue it is considerably sunnier than I remember in Michigan at this time of year. For my birthday I had the best weather I have ever seen.
The people up here are fearless. I have met several people who have lived in Antarctica for extended periods of time.There is a pretty big surfing community here but they only surf through the stormy winter weather. Taking the summer off to pursue other activities. The Time Bandit guys(featured on Deadliest Catch) live here.
Tonight I got invited to join a game night that some of the people in the community go to and my church is starting a game night soon... Playing board games is always something I miss after an extended stay at home(my mom and I really got into Boggle at the end of my visit) You better believe I will be bringing Settlers of Catan with me to game night(one of my only regrets in life is that I don't have a picture of my friends and I playing Settlers of Catan my last year at university-a pretty regular occurrence)
There are museums up here. The Pratt Museum being the most famous and respected of the museums. If you aren't into the natural history that the Pratt Museum offers there is also a hair comb museum.
There are many scientists and researchers up here. This past weekend had a science conference. In the summer there is a well known writers conference-Amy Tan attended one year. A Few weeks ago there was a big Quilters conference. I know one of the women that attended and she said it looked like little sweatshop with each woman pouring over her sewing machine.
My church is pretty awesome. Absolutely no people my age. Not even in the surrounding age brackets of my age. But it is still cool. I enjoy the vibe. Just wish they had better music...I'm amazed when we sing a song post-1919.
The sports and activities are great here to. There is a very large trail system throughout town and surrounding town. Many people spend the sunny afternoons in the weekend cross country skiing the trails. I don't know how to ski very well. I do know how to walk, wish is fortunate because at the Alaskan Coastal Studies they rent out free snow shoes. I have taken advantage of this and enjoyed walking around the trails with the snow shoes... Just have to keep your eyes open for Moose. There are also tons of sports you can join in through the community. I play volleyball on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I love it. Although tonight I stayed a half hour longer than I usual do and found I get a little loopy after 9:30 and just start doing my best impression of a Frisian boy dancing. Most of the rest of the week when I want a bit of exercise I got to the pool. Yep, in a community of 5,000 there is a 25 yard pool with three times through out the day to do Lap Swimming. It is a bit pricey(like everything here) which I don't mind because than I really try to get a full work out in.
Near the airport there is a lake where water planes can land in the summer. In the winter while it is frozen there have race car competitions. They are pretty big until the fiching derbies start. Homer is after all the Halibut Capital of the world.
Homer is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The architecture is crap, but the natural beauty is amazing. Located on the Katchamak Bay and surrounded by snow capped mountains it's no wonder so many cruises dock here in the summers.
I have also been lucky enough to be here in the winter and witness the huge Eagle population.
If I haven't convinced you this is an amazing community and that I truly regret that I won't be able to afford to stay here after my contract is up than please let me know what you need from a town that this place is missing. Because I don't see it. Sometimes the end of the road isn't too bad.

4 comments :

  1. Brandie said...

    Oh, Carol. This made me want to move to Homer. It's fantastic. I'm so glad you're enjoying it.

  2. *secret smile* said...

    We have First Friday in Philly too! I gotta say: Lots of wine and cheese and a little art thrown in makes me quite happy on a Friday evening! :)

  3. beachbunnydesigns said...

    Thanks for the nice comment :D Actually I have added the adult size in with the baby size...so it's both patterns. A few people had asked about an adult sized one so I thought I might as well write it up!

  4. Anonymous said...

    Carol, love the pictures. I just read most of your blog to your brother. He is jealous and would LOVE to visit sometime...but you known our life. If it does not revolve around a cattle auction, vacations are limited to the front yard! We miss you and take care!

    Doug and Amy and kids and cats and dogs and cows...did I miss anyone?