By Edward Nawotka
Every once in awhile you visit a place and think “I could live there.” That happened to me a few years back while vacationing in Alaska when I went to the tiny town of Homer to do some halibut and salmon fishing.
Homer is a small city at the end of the Kenai Peninsula, about 225 miles, or a six hour drive from Anchorage.
You can tell that the 6,000 or so people who’ve settled in Homer have found their bliss in this remote destination. There are plenty of bars and coffee shops, small hotels for visitors, and even a handful of decent restaurants. (In Alaska, where the cuisine seems to be dominated by high priced burgers of dubious quality, as well as, naturally seafood, the locally brewed beer from Juneau and the coffee “imported” from Seattle are real standouts.)
True, it may sound Homer has been a little corrupted by its success as an end-of-the-road outpost for oddballs, drifters, dreamers and the like — but its not so much that the place has become artificial. Its hipness is authentic, which is about the highest compliment you can pay to any kind of place that caters to tourists on a regular basis.
Aside from the breathtaking natural beauty (I literally saw Killer Whales breaching from the shore), part of the attraction of Homer, for me at least, was the presence of the Homer Bookstore. Despite its long distance from pretty much anything, this store had one of the best selections of titles I’d seen in any bookstore anywhere. Certainly it catered to local tastes (as outlined in our lead article), but also managed to display the kind of quirky, individual literary sensibility that marks a true independent bookstore. It may well be the coolest — both literally and figuratively — bookstore in America.
VISIT: The web site for the Homer Bookstore
READ: Tom Bodett’s As Far as You Can go Without a Passport, a sweet, though dated book about Homer.
JEWEL: The singer is another native of Homer and wrote about it a bit as well.