Alaska Unhinged: Spit overload

The Fourth of July celebration was enveloped by such a superb three day weather forecast that northern worker bees were attracted to our area in impressive swarms buzzing around in everything from over priced vanity convertibles to motorhomes with optional slide-out lawns.

There were humongous pickups featuring so many options that they were a control room short of being able to launch multiple surveillance drones in search of optimal camping sites while others piloted wheels that could have fit in the big boys’ glove compartments.

The Homer Spit was as over stuffed as a bear cub waddling around the carcass of an acutely deceased humpback and the growing horde gave me pause.

Then it came to me.

Several years ago a solemn official government personage questioned just how much stuff and people we could put on a piece of land before troubling results might occur.

During a House Armed Services Committee meeting held on 25 March 2010, Representative Hank Johnson from Lithonia, Georgia, questioned Admiral Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, about a proposal to move 8,000 Marines from the Japanese island of Okinawa to the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam. In the course of that questioning, Rep. Johnson expressed concern that adding thousands of Marines and their families to Guam might cause that island to “tip over and capsize.”

He was assured that everything would be cool and went back to studying for his pre-school graduation exam.

Since he had shown such trepidation about an earth overload, I wondered what would happen if a conscientious citizen fired him an emergency email describing the dire tonnage conditions facing the spit and if he thought that it might sink.

Unfortunately Rep. Johnson didn’t respond to the inquiry so I proceeded onto the stretch of sand without the luminous guidance of a member of congress.

The whole three days turned out to be a quintessential experience.

The harbor’s boat ramp, at times, resembled an assembly point for a massive invasion with small landing craft constantly launching to ferry supplies and passengers to remote hideaways while nearby day fishermen were loading coolers, kids and various curs ranging from teacup poodles to mutts big enough to tow the boat if it broke down.

There were a few vessels that looked like they could either troll or lay a pattern of depth chargers floating side by side with small Zodiacs that appeared like bumper buoys in comparison.  

In the afternoon, the cleaning tables were backed up with anglers anxious to process their fish before heading back to their camper for a cold one and a nap.

Most of the sportsmen wielded their knives like Ginsu salesmen and quickly laid out beautiful fillets and steaks in minimal time. Others were so filleting impaired that they turned potentially beautiful salmon sides into something resembling the aftermath of being jammed through a nuclear powered juicer while hacking easy halibut cuts into stew meat. They spent so much time turning their catches into fish sauce, offers of free beer and filleting started coming from the grumbling line behind them in hopes of moving the process along before someone took an involuntary header in the harbor.

Believe me, I’m not close to being an expert but my efforts do not result in what looks like a pile of exploded salmon dip either.

Several of those dipsticks would have had a lot better luck if they wouldn’t have shown up armed with fillet knives duller than a steamed clam’s reading skills while power burping the remains of a twelve pack. Their processing results should have been surrounded by yellow tape and designated as a crime scene.

For those who preferred to remain land based rather than test their capability to tummy hurl their breakfast McMuffins toward Halibut Cove after encountering six inch waves at the harbor’s exit, there were options aplenty.

It took just a short amble from the spit’s end to access huge ice cold cans of Fosters at the Dawg, ice cream stores, bear watching flights, shopping for arts and crafts, a superfluity of various restaurants, a trolley to town and plenty of free tanning sun the length of the spit.

Mid morning Sunday we took a drive to watch the mass exodus back north and to confirm that the spit hadn’t gone all Atlantis on us and sunk. We felt it was our duty in case Representative Johnson called from Georgia for an update. Thus he could reflect being deeply concerned about something for the rest of the summer and offer us the possibility of foreign aid if things went sideways with our visitor influx.

Anyway, the spit was in great shape but quite a few visitors were a bit worse for wear.

There were the usual, previous evening’s, over imbibers drifting around their campgrounds wondering what planet they were on and why their dogs, neighbors, and clan members, bolted for the hinterlands every time they exhaled.

But the ones who really blew the top off my astonishment meter were the hapless, bowlegged walking, sunbathers who took full advantage of the spectacular weather and used the spit as a complimentary tanning salon inadvertently turning themselves into crispy creatures glowing like barbeque briquettes in desperate need of a delicate basting of aloe vera.

By the time you read this, the northern invasion should have turned its attention to dip nets and the beaches of the Kasilof and Kenai Rivers.

You’ll be able to pick out the ones that were down here on the Fourth.

They’ll be the ones peeling skin like a subcommittee questioning the head of the IRS.

Nick can be reached at if you’re not cleaning fish.

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