Hope is hopelessly charming. (Or as my friend Margaret says, there is Hope after all.) Yes, there is a wonderful, utterly charming town called Hope in Alaska, 88 scenic miles from Anchorage, nestled near the end of the road at the mouth of Resurrection Creek on Turnagain Arm.
And we are camped literally at the end of the road, watching the fisherpeople pulling in many, many Pink Salmon from Resurrection Creek, and gazing at the gorgeous scenery across Turnagain Arm. The people here are mostly Alaskans; not many tourists find their way to this quaint little town. And that’s ok with me. I think that’s one of the reasons I love it.
Hope is one of the original gold rush towns. It was a gold rush town even before Dawson or Nome. The origin of its name is as quirky as the town itself. Gold was discovered in Resurrection Creek in 1889, bringing a rush of prospectors to this area setting up tents and building cabins. On a lark, the community decided to name itself for the youngest gold rusher to step off the next boat. His name was Percy Hope, and thus Hope, the town was born.
Gold was also discovered in nearby Six Mile Creek, and those who settled there called themselves Sunrise City. Between the two communities, the population swelled to 3,000 people. Both towns actually developed and duplicated all necessary services: stores, social halls, post offices, and of course, saloons. The first apple tree planted in Alaska was in Hope.
As happened in so many of the gold rush towns, it was over as quickly as it started, the population eventually dropping to just 23 hardy folks. Today it is estimated to be home to between 150 and 200 residents. And can you imagine, for a town this size, they even have a library! Staffed by volunteers and populated mostly by donations, I spent a little time in there yesterday, perusing the books, videos, CD’s and DVD’s. They even had one room dedicated only to books about Alaska. Next door is a gift shop and an espresso shack (have I told you before, they are absolutely everywhere up here??!!).
We spent some time meandering around town, snapping lots of pictures of all the quaint original log buildings. There is a general store with a laundry, which also happens to have a full hookup RV park adjacent. They offer showers for $6 (which were spotlessly clean), and we could bring our rig over to dump for $10 or fill our fresh water tank for $10.
We’ve been conserving quite well, so don’t need to avail ourselves of those opportunities. But I think we’ve decided that we will stay here only three nights, leaving tomorrow to spend a few days in Seward before our visitors arrive. I could have stayed longer, but Fred is restless and bored and tired of eating off paper plates and listening to me harp about water conservation.
The rain is moving in and any place loses a lot of its charm in the rain. We listened to more music last night in the little bar and will probably go over there again tonight. It’s been delightful free entertainment. Last night we spent the evening chatting with a guy who had driven down from Wasilla. He’s been in Alaska for about 25 years, and at one time lived in Hope. He told me he had actually been headed to Seward this evening, but decided to stop here instead.
The drive from Wasilla to Hope is two and a half hours. To Seward it would have been three hours. By our standards, a long drive for the purpose, but Alaskans look at distances considerably differently than we do. When I talked with one of the store proprietors yesterday, she mentioned getting something “in town”. She meant Anchorage. That’s 88 miles away. I would imagine lots of people in this area regularly drive to Anchorage to stock up on stuff as prices there are significantly lower and selection infinitely better.
I’ve included some wildflower pictures today. One especially prolific plant up here is Fireweed. The stalks grow very tall with many magenta colored flowers on each. The flowers start blooming from the bottom up. The Alaskans say when the flowers on the very top of the stalk bloom, winter is just around the corner. I’m keeping my eye on them :)
I’ve also published another rainbow picture. I realized that I put up the wrong one on my last blog. The second faint rainbow above the main one didn’t show up as well, and there was a trailer mucking up the shot. I had a much better one, so I replaced it in yesterday’s blog, but for those who had already read the entry, I’m putting the good one in again today to save you the trouble of going back to look. I also had a few pictures from Kenai that I never posted so I’ve included them here.
See you in Seward tomorrow.