Yep, it’s Throwback Thursday. Today, I’m recalling a wonderful visit last July to Stillpoint Lodge in Halibut Cove, Alaska—across Kachemak Bay from Homer.
Are you looking for a luxurious Alaska getaway? Has someone on your gift list been good? I mean really good? Or really b-a-d? You know…in a very good way? HAHAHAHA
It all started with the smoked cod that Christy ordered last week at a restaurant here in Anchorage. It was good, but NOTHING like the maple syrup-smoked cod that Lodge Manager Beka Thoning made when we arrived at the lodge. I took several photos of the dishes that she served—but the cod…it was a standout!
Stillpoint Lodge is the brainchild of longtime Anchorage residents Jim and Jan Thurston. The first version of the lodge was a simple cabin—built on an outcropping overlooking Halibut Cove. But it kept growing, eventually becoming a spiritual retreat center. This is clear from the moment you enter the lodge. There’s a large open area, with a creek running through the entryway. Fear not—there’s a bridge to the other side! The open area is perfect for group meditation or yoga classes. But we just enjoyed hanging out and getting to know the other guests. Jim and Jan still live on the property, but their son, JT, now runs the place.
Before you even get to the lodge, you’ll get a ride from Homer’s small boat harbor over to the dock in Halibut Cove. Along the way, keep an eye out for whales, sea otters and the occasional Dall’s Porpoise.
We arrived just in time for Happy Hour. Don’t be surprised if your host asks you about your favorite cocktails. It’s quite possible they’ll have one waiting for you! They had set a beer out for me, but I made a bee-line for the fresh Alaska oysters!
The long summer days means there’s plenty of time after dinner to explore the grounds. Right outside the lodge is a beautiful garden where they grow many of their own vegetables including strawberries, raspberries, lettuce, cabbage, kale, chard and a host of other green goodies (photo, TOP)! Don’t look for the traditional row-upon-row garden, though. No, this is a beautiful layout with flowers and structure—lovely to the eye as well as the palate!
Jan led us first to the outdoor labyrinth so we all could “do the labyrinth” as we said a silent prayer. Or, in my case, just tried to keep from tripping over myself as we walked in circles. I’m a big fan of labyrinths—and I’ve found as I walk the circular patterns, I’m able to stop and listen more fully to the beauty of the natural setting.
Overlooking the labyrinth is a small “poustinia,” which is a Russian word for a cabin where you can meditate. There were six or seven of us in the small group that Jan was showing around. We all sat in a circle and enjoyed a quiet moment on a sunny summer evening!
The lodge building is a perfect spot for dining and gathering, while the guest cabins are scattered strategically to take advantage of the best waterfront views. It’s at this point, after the meditation and walking the labyrinth, that we begin to appreciate the name: Stillpoint. Folks…it’s quiet! And the beds=comfy. Truthfully, I can sleep on a variety of surfaces: hard or soft, smooth or lumpy. But Christy r-e-a-l-l-y likes the beds—and that means I, too, am a big fan!
We got up early—not too early, though. Just early enough for a big breakfast. Smoked salmon, eggs and a special Hollandaise sauce. YUMMM. After all, we were headed out for some kayaking at the Grewingk Glacier. Beka’s husband and co-manager Lucas Thoning loaded us up in the boat for the short ride to the trailhead.
Before we got to the glacier, we hiked up and over the “Saddle Trail” through the woods and over some hills from Halibut Cove. Along the way, there are some beautiful vistas where you can look over Halibut Cove and beyond to Kachemak Bay. Just another #KodakMoment.
We arrived at the beach in front of the glacier and Lucas suggested we break out our “shore lunches” that Beka and her crew made for us. Afterwards, we scrambled over the beach to the secret hiding place where they stash the inflatable kayaks. Pump pump pump and then HOP ABOARD!
These are sturdy boats! Lucas even STOOD UP ON ONE to prove that you could do a little SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) if you wish. SHOW-OFF (see photo of iceberg, above). Actually, that’s not the half of it.
We paddled out to this promontory right in front of the giant glacier. After securing the boats, we pondered whether or not to climb up the loose scree to the official “lookout” point. “HELL, YEAH” was the general consensus. But Lucas went one step further…doing a doggone HEADSTAND at the top of the trail. Hey—I have it on FILM!!
On the way back, we paddled TOO CLOSE to the icebergs in the lake. But we couldn’t resist the photo opp. HAHA. Then, it was over the river and through the woods to get back to the boat…and then back to the lodge in time for happy hour. Whew.
Just to make you top off your relaxation tank, there are special massage rooms for you to get a 90-minute full-body massage. Let me share: that certainly took the kinks out of my sore body after my day of hiking and paddling!!
There are plenty of other activities, including other guided hikes in Kachemak State Park, fishing, kayaking and tide-pooling. But don’t be afraid to simply sit back and look at the flowers…or meditate in the poustina. Remember…it’s “Still” point lodge. And when you’re worn out from that…it’ll be time to eat. May I suggest some lightly-wrapped halibut? I don’t know the exact term for the puffy pastry that surrounds the fish…but you get the idea. Yummmmm.
There’s a three-night minimum if you go to the lodge. All of your meals and beverages are included, as are most of your activities and your boat ride over from Homer. Stillpoint Lodge qualifies as an “aspirational travel experience” in the “luxury” category. Let me ask again: Has someone on your Holiday List been good this year? I mean r-e-a-l-l-y good? Three-night packages are $3,723 per adult.
Trust me…you’ll want to stay for a week. Call Beka at (907)299-7240…tell ‘em Scott sent you.
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