Date: May 7, 2013
Tonight’s Location: Homer, AK
Weather: mostly cloudy
Temperature: start 34º
Wildlife count: Moose, Sea Otters
Year List: 214 Life list: 349
Birds: Magpie, Bald Eagle, Northwestern Crow, Common Raven, Red-breasted Merganser, Northern Pintail, Long-tailed Duck, Pelagic Cormorant, Whimbrel, Black-bellied Plover, Pacific Golden-Plover, Greater White-fronted Geese, Red-necked Grebe, Mallard, Greater Yellowlegs, Scaup, Green-winged Teal, Ruddy Turnstone, Western Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Common Loon, White-winged Scoter, Tundra Swan, Pacific Loon, Pigeon Guillemot, Common Murre, Black-legged Kittiwake, Mew Gull,
How did the pioneers live without running water? Or, how do present day pioneers – that would be us – live without water? I suppose we never think about what we have until we don’t have it. For the last week of our travel, and our first week here in Homer, we have been without water, so our daily drill has been slightly altered. (The issue is that it is just too cold for water to remain liquid outdoors.)
We have carried water in 4 gallon milk jugs while we were on the road, and we didn’t use much water, as we didn’t cook – just heated food we had prepared and frozen. We were able to get water in the laundry rooms of the campgrounds.
Here in Homer, the campground has not yet turned on water and we have been here a week today. Our water is obtained from the local Safeway grocery, where there is an outside spigot that gushes water from the city water supply. We are using our 4 jugs and a 5 gallon collapsible water carrier that we threw in at the last moment – so glad we did!
Brushing teeth is the first order of the day, and we keep a coke bottle of drinking water at the sink. John’s shaving water needs to be hot (there is no hot water when one is carrying water), so we either heat it in a small pan, OR, we have found that heating two coffee cups of water allows twice the bang for our buck. Our cups get hot, the water gets hot using electricity, which comes free with the park fee (instead of using propane for the stove, stored in tanks that we have to fill weekly to keep the furnace running). John can shave and wash his face with a little left over in one cup for me to wash my face.
Using the bathroom requires water, and we keep 3 jugs by the stool for that purpose. Hand washing is by sanitizer only – takes too much water.
The 5 gallon carrier has a spigot, stored at the kitchen sink for drinking water, coffee, etc. The last jug is for washing dishes. Last night we cooked, so there was the need for a full sink of dishwater. Water was heated in a pot, soap added, cold water added to cool it below boiling and dishes were washed. However, that does not include rinsing the soap, which takes a LOT of water!
We have filled the 5 gallon container twice since we have been here, and fill the jugs every other day – good thing the Safeway is only ½ mile down the street. We understand, though, that many houses not on city water rely on Safeway water all winter, as their well water freezes coming up through the frozen ground.
Oh yes, about showers. We have showered in the NWR Visitor’s Center showers here and in campgrounds along the way. As temperatures along the trip were seldom above freezing, showers were rather infrequent, actually VERY infrequent! We resorted to foam shampoo and basin baths. It is just too cold to be running around outdoors after a warm shower.
No wonder Alaska is called the last frontier! We get that a little more now.
Today we splurged with breakfast out at the Duncan House, followed by a walk through the Save-U-More grocery – a wild conglomeration of big box store, exotic foods from around the world, and a relatively good produce section. We decided to take a trip up to Anchor Point to bird, as well as to get an idea of what was available, as we will be helping with a birding walk there on Sunday afternoon. We saw a couple of Long-tailed Ducks, a lifer for us.
After a quick bite of lunch at home, we spent the afternoon volunteering for the Chamber, putting up signs for the Festival. A trip out to the spit afterward netted several old favorite birds, which we have not seen since last fall in Oregon.
Spending the day outdoors in the cold wind has made us really tired. Dinner was ham & beans & cornbread, and we have spent the evening working on bird identification.