This big fella greets visitors at Islands and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer

This big fella greets visitors at Islands and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer

All the extended family has arrived in Alaska for their introduction to summer in the 49th State. Why yes, it is still raining, but in the spirit of walking my talk as far as outdoor adventures go, I’m bundling up, wrapping people in rainsuits and rubber boots, and heading out.

Fortunately for all of us, Homer is our destination tomorrow, where rain or shine, fun is everywhere. We’ll be staying at our favorite Homer Seaside Cottages, a little cluster of cabins down on Bunnell Avenue in “Old Homer”, and close to such amenities as Two Sisters Bakery, Bishop’s Beach, and the Mermaid Bookstore and Cafe. We will also be within walking distance to AK Kid’s favorite Homer stop, Islands and Ocean Visitor Center.

Easily found at the end of the Sterling Highway, Islands and Ocean is a building of partnerships among outdoor agencies and organizations, and is dedicated to educating and inspiring all who visit there. Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. every day in the summer, kids and adults alike will enjoy their exhibits, classes, and knowledge.  Heck, even the front door is cool with a metal sculpture of kelp winding around the handles.

Islands and Ocean strives to bring nature to kids, and we’ll be attending the Discovery Lab on Wednesday (and Friday and Saturday, too) from 1-3 p.m. Kids are able to explore in-depth the wonders of the world under the tutelage of great staff who know how to engage small and big kids. The class, as is the visitor center, is free of charge although we usually put a donation in the box at the front of the building.

With a selection of short trails to explore, too, kids can run the ya-ya’s out around the center and even take a guided walk with a naturalist who will show all the flora, fauna, and bird life that call the grounds home. Even squirrely AK Kid enjoys the guided hikes.

There’s a quote by John Muir, noted naturalist and one of my outdoor heroes, on the wall of Islands and Ocean, in the One Big Ocean exhibit room. It says “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” I’m trying to get my kids to tug a little bit longer by visiting such places as this. Tug, and hold on.

Posted in Big Kid, Kenai Peninsula, Little Kid, Miscellaneous and tagged .