I should have read my Moon Handbooks guide more carefully. Planning a trip to Homer, Alaska, I figured I could catch a bus from Anchorage and save the cost of a rental car. I booked three nights at the Seaside Farm Hostel, naively assuming I could walk each day to the famous Homer Spit.
Even though the guidebook clearly said the hostel was “five miles out East End Road from town” and described the Spit as a “four-mile finger of real estate jutting boldly into the tolerant and bounteous bay,” I didn’t actually make the connection until I was in the midst of the nine-mile walk.
At least the weather was cooperative — at first. But by the time I finally reached the end of the Spit, the sky was turning gray and the wind was starting to gust. Before exploring the Spit, I found a phone booth — a genuine, old-fashioned booth — and called my girlfriend in Kansas. We talked for about half an hour as the wind increased in intensity. We hung up only when I could no longer stand the cold.
I hurried to the nearest restaurant, a cozy little place called Whales Cove. I ordered a cup of hot chocolate and some halibut fish & chips. The warm meal raised my spirits.
I could see the first drops drizzling down outside as I finished my meal. I did not relish the thought of a nine-mile walk in this weather. I remembered seeing business cards for local cab companies taped to the walls of the phone booth, so I went back out through the drizzle to call one. I picked one at random, put my coins in the slot, and dialed.
“Hello?” said the voice on the other end.
Had I dialed a residential number by mistake? “Um, is this Best Cab?”
“No,” he replied.
I was cold and wet, and beginning to get discouraged. Then he added, “But I’m working for them tonight.”
I explained that I needed a ride from the Spit to Seaside Farm.
He asked me where I was, and I read the sign from the nearest business. “I’m at Thompson Halibut Charters.”
He said he would be there in a few minutes. Before he hung up, he asked, “Are you at the Silver Fox now?”
I briefly wondered if I was going to have to walk back after all.
I got him straightened out — at least I hoped — and waited in the drizzle for a taxi that I wasn’t sure would arrive.
By the time the cab did arrive, the drizzle had turned to rain. My misery faded into relief as I climbed into the taxi.
We hadn’t gone far when the driver’s cell phone rang. Apparently another cabbie was offering to split a pizza.
Papa John sped around a curve on the wet pavement, one hand on the wheel and one on the phone, saying, “I can pay seven dollars, but I can’t pay ten. But it is the best pizza in town.”
I wondered whether it would have been better to take my chances with the rain.
When we arrived safely at the hostel, I was so grateful to be alive that I gave him a generous tip. But the next morning when I wanted a ride back to the Spit, I stuck out my thumb. It seemed safer.