I had the realization driving home today that Homer’s just the right size to me. It’s not too big, like our Minneapolis home was. It’s not too small like plenty of rural America communities, or Alaskan bush towns. It’s smack dab in the middle.
Homer has 100% of what we need, and 90% of what we want. Anything that isn’t available here is available in either Kenai/Soldotna, or worst-case in Anchorage. And what’s in town, we have at least two options for everything. If I need hardware we have Ulmer’s Ace Hardware, Kachemak Gear Shed (now Redden Marine Supply), and SBS. If we need groceries we can pick from Safeway, Save-U-More, and Kachemak Wholesale. Auto Parts? NAPA, O’Reilly and CarQuest. Coffee? We have plenty of that. Pizza? Finn’s, Fat Olives, and Starvin’ Marvin’s. Need to refill your grill’s propane tank? Essential One, Home Run Oil, and UHaul. Need a big propane tank refilled? Suburban Propane or AmeriGas. In need of some new reading material? Homer Bookstore, Old Inlet Bookshop, and Observance of Hermits will all get you flipping pages again in no time. Realtors? Story Real Estate, Coastal Real Estate, Alderfer Group, and on and on. You get the point. Mechanics, plumbers, electricians, carpenters – we have plenty of those. Churches and bars – one for every citizen, just like Wisconsin.
We’re a regular 5,000 person town. A high school, movie theater, hospital, lumber yard, harbor, restaurants, choice of internet service providers, library, animal shelter, food shelf, thrift shops, art galleries, cafes, police, fire, gas stations, ….
Many of the stores in town also carry larger inventories than the stores we patronized in MN, simply because they function as their own mini warehouses too. NAPA’s a great example. The store in town is larger than any NAPA store I’ve ever been in, likely because the closest warehouse is 4 hours away. In the Twin Cities, a store was never further than 30-40 minutes away from a warehouse. Mama B’s continually amazed at the variety of specialty items available in our 3 grocery stores. It seems Save-U-More sells the entire Bob’s Red Mill lineup, and Kachemak Wholesale sells anything spice, nut or dried fruit you could possibly want in their bulk bins. Any item we can’t find in town is just an Amazon order away. While it might (read: will) take longer to reach us, free shipping is still available and expedited shipping is an option.
All of our needs are covered here in town, with a good share of the wants too, but we’re no longer residing with 3.5 million other people. We get the peace and quiet that comes with living at the end of the road. The traffic at its worst is still leaps and bounds better than any day in Twin Cities rush hour traffic (which I’m sure is nothing compared to Los Angeles rush hour). Even in the short 6 months we’ve been here, we feel far more like members of a large family than nameless faces in a sea of people. Yet it’s big enough that we haven’t experienced the feeling that everybody has their nose in everyone else’s business like small towns are often known to exhibit. In Minneapolis, we never saw our midwives outside of our appointments, or after Little B was born. In Homer, we see them around town all the time and I’m sure we will continue to long after Baby B is born. I bet they’ll continue to greet us with a hug every time, too. The folks at Duncan House Diner recognize us and Brad even remembers my regular order. The realtor, midwives, mechanic, diner employees, neighbor across the street, etc – they’re all genuinely nice people that we’ve enjoyed getting to know. On the whole, the people of Homer and the surrounding area are just more friendly than the people in Minneapolis.
Not only is our proximity to people a good fit here, but our proximity to outdoor adventure is great as well. Wild, beautiful Alaska is just out the door. River or deep sea fishing, kayaking or kite surfing, hiking, four wheeling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, hunting…the world is our oyster.
We Three B’s spent a lot of time trying to decide where to live on our post-MN adventure. Even after picking the Kenai Peninsula, we were unsure where the right spot would be. I’m thrilled that our choice of Homer has turned out as well as it has. The town’s not too big, it’s not too small. It’s juuuuuust right.