On being Bumppo Bremicker

By Christina Whiting
Homer Tribune

Photo provided Bumppo Bremicker (LEFT) demonstrates knot-tying at the 2013 Wooden Boat Festival. Bremicker is active with the Kachemak Bay festival, and sits on the board for Homer Area Trails and KBBI Public Radio.

Photo provided
Bumppo Bremicker (LEFT) demonstrates knot-tying at the 2013 Wooden Boat Festival. Bremicker is active with the Kachemak Bay festival, and sits on the board for Homer Area Trails and KBBI Public Radio.

In 1968, Rick Bremicker skillfully navigated a group of friends on a cross-country road trip, earning him the nickname Bumppo. (After Natty Bumppo, the path-finding main character in James Fenimoore Cooper’s western novels.)
“I tried to shake this name for a couple of years, but it just stuck,” Bremicker said.
While the name might have come by chance, Bumppo has been carving his own path ever since.
Bremicker grew up reading old Alaska Sportsmen’s magazines and dreamed of adventures in Alaska. In 1968, a year out of high school, he and a group of friends journeyed north.
While in Ketchikan, they were thrown in jail.
“We were jailed for trumped-up drug charges and then kicked out of Ketchikan,” he said.
Bremicker spent the next year fighting fires outside Fairbanks, but longed to live by the ocean. He moved to Homer, where he staked out five acres of land out East End Road that sat on a bluff, 500 feet above the ocean.
Frustrated that he was still not as close to the ocean as he wanted to be, Bremicker bought a boat and set out to explore Kachemak Bay. When he found an old cabin in Tutka Bay, he got permission to live in it and soon, he, his girlfriend and his friends Dick Dunn and Greg Christen were soon calling Tutka Bay home.
The foursome spent their first winter living on steamer clams and seal meat that a neighbor brought them, when seal hunting was still legal. On Valentine’s Day, 1972, the F.B.I and federal troopers stormed Tutka Bay and arrested Bremicker for draft resistance.
“I had good friends who had been in Vietnam, so the war wasn’t something abstract to me. It was very real,” he said. “Every time I asked myself what the right thing to do was, my inner voice would tell me to not go.”
 Bremicker spent three months in federal jail for his draft resistance.
 “When prisoners would ask if I was afraid to kill somebody, I told them that I wanted to decide for myself who I was going to kill and not let the government decide that for me,” he said.
 When he was acquitted, Bremicker returned to Tutka Bay. He worked on the Alaska pipeline for a couple of years, met and married his wife and had their daughter, Yarrow. The family commercial fished Cook Inlet for the next 10 years, fishing for pod shrimp as well as Tanner, dungeness and king crab.
“Mine was the last boat to deliver king crab to the Homer Harbor before that fishery was permanently closed,” Bremicker said.
 The family then moved to Bear Cove, where their son North was born. There, they fished the Inlet for herring and halibut. Bremicker also ran freight boats around the Inlet for a year and spent two summers running landing crafts during the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup. He also ran halibut charter boats on Kachemak Bay.
 “I loved being on the water,” he said. “I loved the challenge of making everything on a boat work. I didn’t get rich, but I made enough to keep going.”
 Transitioning from a life on the water, Bremicker enjoys having his feet now firmly planted on land. He bought land on Kachemak Drive, moved a 1938 Waddell house onto his property and has been remodeling it ever since.
He was a founding member of Cook Inletkeeper, helped start the Kachemak Bay Longshoremen Union across the Bay, sat on the Parks, Recreation and Beaches Commission, been involved with Alaskans for Peace and started the local group, “Truth, Justice and Reconciliation” with his partner Lindianne Sarno.
In the early 1980s, after reading about Germany’s Green Party, Bremicker and his friend Joni Whitmore wanted to start a Green Party in Homer.
 “Fifty people showed up to our first meeting and Kachemak Green Movement was formed,” he said. “This inspired people in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, and soon Alaska inspired California and the party was popping up all over the country.”
Bremicker is active with the Wooden Boat Society and sits on the board of Homer Area Trails and KBBI.
“This is my town and I want to make it a better place,” he said.
Bremicker is currently working on several books, including his second in a series of children’s books that feature “Everlasting,” a young Dene Athabascan girl who sets out to find her father and brother who are washed away when their village floods.
“Everlasting is bold and wise and learns from people and animals,” he said. “She is a medicine woman in training who is on the hero’s journey, and will return to her people with the knowledge she’s learned along the way.”
More than just a children’s story about adventures, Bremicker has woven philosophy, spirituality, anthropology, natural history and geography throughout the book.  
 Published last year, “Everlasting and the Great River” is currently available at the Homer Bookstore, the Homer Public Library, Lindianne’s Music Garden and on Amazon.
“Never do what you don’t want to do.”
For more than 40 years, Bremicker and his Homer band of brothers, Dick Dunn and Greg Christen, have lived this philosophy to the fullest. Christen passed away two weeks ago, and while Bremicker mourns this passing, he said their friendship is forever woven into the story of Bremicker’s life — along the rocky shores of the town he loves.

Meet Your Neighbor shares stories of people in Homer and the surrounding area. If you would like to suggest someone for a story, please contact christina@homertribune.com.

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Posted by on Feb 18th, 2014 and filed under Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses for “On being Bumppo Bremicker”

  1. Patricia Cue says:

    A great story. Thank you for living your dream and sharing it with others.

  2. Skip Landt says:

    Great story. Please tell Bumppo that he’s now an honorary member of the Natty Bumppo Society. Frankly, it’s even less related to Cooper’s character than Bremicker — it’s friends from the 1960’s at the University of Chicago who needed a nominal organization to qualify for getting permission for women living in the dorm to stay out overnight. (It was true: a trip to the headwaters of the Mississippi river). But we continue to meet from time to time. If Bumppo ever visits Chicago, he should contact me at the Old Town School of Folk Music and I’ll buy him a good meal.

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