Family visits Homer as part of Goodbye Alaska Tour
Douglas family will relocate to Colorado after three years at Eielson Air Force Base
Dyon and Trisha Douglas, along with their children Brooke, Reese Luke, Cameron and Syd, moved to Alaska in 2014, are relocating to Colorado, and recently visited Homer as part of their "goodbye Alaska tour."
For parents Dyon and Trisha, Homer provides a place to relax.
"Homer is such an easy place to relax, but there's also plenty of different things for all of us to do," Trisha said. "It's a great balance."
Married 11 years, Dyon and Trisha met while both were stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. Trisha left the military when her oldest children were born, and Dyon just retired and is about to embark on a new career as a pilot with United Airlines.
The couple moved to Fairbanks in 2014, when Dyon was stationed at Eielson Air Force Base.
"I put in for Alaska because we'd both been here before to work for shorter periods of time and we really liked it," he said. "We're both really outdoorsy people and thought it would be neat to have the opportunity to live here for a few years."
Trisha, an Aerospace Physiologist, had been to Alaska in 2002, attending an arctic survival class, and again in 2004, investigating an aircraft accident.
Dyon worked in Alaska for six weeks in 2007 and for one week in 2009. In 2009, he flew with the Air Force Thunderbirds, piloting an F-16 for an air show in Anchorage.
In Fairbanks, the family enjoyed a quiet life, situated 30 miles from Fairbanks at Eielson AFB, in an area with numerous outdoor activities available. They were immediately impressed with the attitude of locals.
"We noticed right away that people just do what needs to be done and they don't live to impress somebody else," Trisha said.
They enjoyed following the excitement of the Iditarod, watching the start both years that it was in Fairbanks.
During their first visit to Homer last summer, they camped in their RV on the Homer Spit and spent four days exploring, fishing, kayaking, tide pooling, walking the beaches and wandering through the shops.
During this visit, their daughter Syd got sick and had to be hospitalized. Physician, Dr. Martha Cotton, who was raised in Halibut Cove and practices at South Peninsula Hospital, attended to the family.
"We'd had plans together as a family and when Syd got sick, Dr. Cotton offered to take the rest of the family out on her boat," Trisha said. "She took Dyon and the kids across the bay so they could go hiking, and picked them up later in the afternoon."
This act of kindness allowed the other children to have an adventure while their sister was being looked after. It also made a deep impression with the family.
"I grew up in a small town," Trisha said. "Having that kind of an encounter at a hospital felt so much like the small town that I'm used to."
The family shared that they always enjoy exploring the spit and this trip, they kayaked, walked the bike trail, tidepooled, spent time on the beach, fished, ate ice cream, wandered the shops and, a family favorite, searched the harbor docks for marine life, joining the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies on their Creatures of the Dock tours.
"Seeing the sea stars and the sea anemones that looked like cucumbers was amazing," 8-year-old Brooke said.
Her twin sister, Reese, also liked seeing what was under the docks, but shared that this trip had a few other highlights for her as well.
"I like kayaking and eating ice cream," she said.
Four-year-old triplets, Luke, Cameron and Syd love spending time outdoors.
"I liked fishing at the fishing hole," Syd said.
"I really liked the 4th of July parade," Cameron said.
"I liked sand sliding," said Luke.
While Dyon and Trisha can imagine moving their family back to Alaska one day, it will not be any time soon.
"We would like to be able to figure out a way to stay in Alaska, but for right now we are moving for the job opportunities and to be close to family," Dyon said.
While some visitors might miss not being able to enjoy late night coffee shops or 24-hour restaurants, the Douglas family likes Homer just the way it is.
"We don't look at towns that we like for them to be different," Trisha said. "We just like them to be the way they are. If that's sufficient for the people living there, then it should be sufficient for us."
Of the many things they will miss about living in Alaska, seeing the northern lights tops the list.
"We will miss the many peaceful, cold nights watching the Aurora fill the sky," Trisha said.
Of the many aspects of Homer that they value, Dyon and Trisha shared that they especially appreciate Homer's small town atmosphere.
"It's not touristy like New York City or Las Vegas," Dyon said. "It's touristy in its own way, but it's quaint and small and that's the kind of tourist you get, not obnoxious.