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TRAVEL JOURNAL INDEX > A Drinking Village With a Fishing Problem

Homer, AK  10/06-10/06 (Day 164-168)
A Drinking Village With a Fishing Problem

We’ve driven down the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage once already on this trip, but we didn’t have time to get to Homer and we’re not willing to leave Alaska without checking out the southernmost town on the Kenai.

The Seward Highway out of Anchorage is gorgeous even in rainy, gloomy weather and soon we turn off the Seward and onto the Sterling Highway, reaching Homer at dusk. You can usually camp at a bunch of areas on the Homer Spit, a 4.5 mile gravel bar that juts out into the Kachemak Bay, but everything is already closed for the season. Instead, we talk our way into an RV park in town and park our [email protected] trailer. We’re the only ones there and Eric has to use the ladies room and showers since the owners have already closed up the men’s room, but it’s home.

We expect to find a lot of things in Homer (fishermen featured on “Deadliest Catch,” halibut as big as a horse, maybe even enough rain to shut down the Seward Highway for days)—and we get all that. But wood-fired brick-oven pizza is not on our list of Homer attractions. Then we discover Fat Olives which, among other delicious things, makes real pizza in a Mugnaini wood-burning brick oven imported straight from Italy.

We just happen to have a bottle of perfect pizza wine (Fratelli Perata sangiovese) squirreled away in our [email protected], so we order a pie and take it back to the RV park where we devour it and reminisce about ordering take out back in New York City. The pizza is so delicious that we do it again the next night before heading out to a bar called Kharacters (not a mistake—that’s really how they spell it) where a local band called Twitching Sushi is playing.

The band is about to lose their lead singer, Atz Lee, to the lure of Hollywood so the show is particularly boozed-up and raucous—which is saying something when the group already delivers kazoo and a banjo player sporting huge lamb chop sideburns. Twitching Sushi’s songs turn out to be slyly funny. For example, there’s The Pirate Song which has helpful lyrics like “Johnny Depp is not a pirate he’s a poser” interspersed with the occasional enthusiastic “Arrrggggh!” from Atz. Then there’s a song about small town life that bemoans the fact that “You can’t steal a kiss in a town this size. How the rumors do fly in a town this size” which has the audience of locals clapping and nodding in recognition—probably of themselves.

To make a long story (and a long night) short, it turns out that Atz is Jewel’s brother (we all have a cross to bear, right?). Somewhere between the 17th and 18th on-stage shot of brown liquor, members of the audience start playfully requesting Jewel songs (we’re not going to tell you which ones because they’d just get stuck in your head and we like you way too much to do that to you). Atz gets a bit testy, but he’s clearly used to the ribbing. And totally drunk.

A rumored reunion of Twitching Sushi isn’t the only reason to drop by Karachters the next time you’re in Homer: the sign above the men’s urinal says “Stand close. It’s shorter than you think.”

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