A Day in Hope

August 13, 2012

We depart our Dacha Alaska Campground and drive one mile to the historic town of Hope.   At the end of Hope Highway is Porcupine Campground and we are in luck!  Some campers are just leaving a site with a view of the Turnagain Arm which is part of the Cook Inlet. Dick places some orange cones and a blue tarp on the area to reserve our spot and off we go.

Hope has a population of 151 and I have no idea where the people are.  The Seaview Cafe is closed although the sign says open at 12:00 and it is now 12:30. Someone told us they ran out of food yesterday and had to close early.  Maybe they’re out shopping?  We drive by a gift shop but that is also closed, as well as the panning for gold area.  This picturesque community was the site of the gold rush of 1896.  It is now a quiet, friendly oasis popular for hikers, campers, bicyclists, fishermen, bird watchers and recreational gold miners.

The Sunrise-Hope Museum is open and as we enter I hear a man’s voice, barely audible saying “sign the guestbook.” He is wearing dark glasses and is hard of hearing, but that doesn’t stop this 82 year old man from telling us the history of his town and pointing out old, yellowed with age photographs of the men and women who settled here and raised their families.  An elderly woman with white hair enters the building. She is 87 years old and the wife of the man showing us around.  Her fluffy white dog, Nicky  follows us around.  Behind the museum is a camp with a few dilapidated cabins and run-down equipment, which is all part of this town’s history.

The Seaview Café is still closed so we eat lunch at the only other restaurant in town; Discovery Café.

“Sourdough Dru’s” Gift shop is now open and outside on the porch I see a refrigerated box which holds a variety of ice cream bars.   This is really why we stop, but once inside, Dru (the owner) has us captivated with her chattering.  Dru’s red curls atop her head bounce around as she speaks of Sarah Palin and Alaska.  Her chubby body meanders between glass display cases filled with home- made jewelry and knick knacks.  Forty-five minutes later, we walk out of the store carrying an apron with Hope sewn on the front (the perfect gift for my friend, Hope) and a pretty feather barrette for me!

As we drive to the end of the road, we discover a lovely meadow with horses grazing in a grassy field.  There is a wide stream that runs along the side and it is filled with men, women, and children of all ages grasping fishing poles, hoping to catch “the big one.”  Dick & I leisurely walk the muddy bank and we can see dozens of salmon swimming below us.  It is illegal to catch a salmon anywhere but in the mouth, so many are thrown back for this reason or they are just not big enough.  This place is magical for us and we spend hours chatting with the friendly folks. When one of the pink salmon is caught and the man clubs the fish on the head, bright orange fish eggs blow out of the female’s body!

I find a grassy spot on the hillside to sit while Dick wanders off to discuss fishing with some of the guys.  Unfortunately he forgets about the high tide rolling in and within minutes he is surrounded by water.  Too bad he isn’t wearing “waders” as by the time he makes it back through the mud and silt, his shoes, socks and bottom of his jeans are soaked!

Time to return to our campsite and prepare the perfect camper’s meal of hot dogs and beans.

It is now 11 p.m. and darkness is falling.  I call out for Dick who is sitting by the campfire to come to bed.  He puts out his smelly cigar and reluctantly enters the RV, sad to see another Alaska night come to an end.

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