Everything you need to know about Homer
Q: Is Homer really named after Homer Simpson?
A: We get asked that a lot, but no, Homer is named after Homer Pennock. In 1896, 51 people with the Alaska Gold Mining Company settled on the Homer Spit and had to come up with a name. As Della Banks, the only woman in the group, later wrote, "J.E. Guillbault exclaimed, 'Why not call it "Homer" after you, Pennock?' Everyone agreed. Thus Homer was named after a not-too-successful promoter." Pennock went on to seek his fortune in the Yukon Gold Rush, and eventually wound up in New York City, where he's buried.
Q: What's the Spit?
A: Drive up East Hill Road and hang a left to the top of Skyline Drive. See that little wiggly piece of land sticking out into the bay? That's the Spit. It's a natural, not manmade, formation composed of sand, gravel, coal and other debris left by a glacier as it retreated into the Kenai Mountains.
Q: What's the elevation of the Spit?
A: High tide or low tide? Let's see, if you're standing on the beach on a normal tide oh, about zero.
Q: Where the heck is Homer, anyway?
A: There's the city of Homer and then the greater Homer area. The actual city limits run from the top of Baycrest Hill (that's the killer view as you come into town) to where East End Road meets Kachemak Drive, with a population of about 5,400 people. The greater Homer area from Diamond Ridge to Fritz Creek is 8,300 people. Add in the Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet villages of Seldovia, Halibut Cove, Nanwalek and Port Graham, and then throw in Anchor Point, Ninilchik and points in between, you're talking a big small town of about 13,000 people on what we call the lower Kenai Peninsula.
Q: I just love Tom Bodett's books. Where can I visit him?
A: Try Maine. A lot of people who made Homer famous, like Jewel, no longer live here.
Q: How many hours of daylight does Homer get?
A: From June 18-22, Homer gets 18 hours and 44 minutes daily of beautiful sunshine. From Dec. 19-22, Homer gets 18 hours and 1 minute of glorious starry skies, and the sun sort of hovers on the southern horizon for 5 hours and 59 minutes.
Q: Outside magazine said of Homer's climate: "Cold. Get over it." How bad is it?
A: Homer has some of the best weather you'll find in Alaska. Extremes run from 81 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 24. The average maximum temperature in July, typically the hottest month, is 60.5 degrees and the average minimum temperature in July is 46.2. In January, typically the coldest month, the average maximum temperature is 28.5 degrees and the average minimum temperature is 16.8. Chances are, it's either a lot hotter, a lot colder or both than it is here.
Q: How can you spot a Homerite?
A: Easy: look for the worn and battered XtraTuf rubber boots.
Q: Is Homer really "too rough and too weird to be a tourist trap?"
A: That's what the New York Times said. Parts of Homer might be a bit scruffy around the edges, but we like to think we clean up nice.
Q: Is the TV show "Deadliest Catch" shot in Homer?
A: No, the bulk of the reality hit is shot on the truly deadly waters of the Bering Sea, but two of it's stars brothers Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand live in Homer. If you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of their crab boat, the F/V Time Bandit, in the Homer Harbor. Or, better yet, head down to the Salty Dawg, where you might meet the Hillstrand boys in person.
Q: Who coined the phrase "Cosmic Hamlet By the Sea?"
A: One of Homer's civic leaders and colorful characters, Brother Asaiah Bates, is the man responsible for the whimsical nickname. Bates, who first came to Homer in 1955 with the "barefooters," a group of folks who vowed to grow their hair and go without shoes until world peace was achieved, was a city council member and spiritual leader for many years. He died in 2000 at age 78.