June 16-18: Most every place we choose to wander holds a few hidden treasures. Our brief home-spot in Hope revealed its own garden of finds. For a population of 250, this town has a good crop of tales that can be unearthed with a small amount of effort. Hope’s residents are diverse, but seem to have a common thread of desire for both the solitude and camaraderie that exists in this tiny place.
The history of Hope began in the late 1800s when gold seekers made discoveries in the same creeks flowing swiftly through the nearby forests today. In fact, the panners are still at work diligently seeking their fortunes. The Sea View Cafe was once the local general store providing food and supplies for these citizens and now serves delicious meals to locals and travelers. The Social Hall where turn-of-the-century residents had town meetings and gatherings still serves that purpose. Obviously, it’s important to a certain group of people that Hope continue to be.
Do you wonder? Who moves into a tiny remote Alaskan town where it’s three hours in good weather to the nearest shopping and income potential is extremely limited? Being ever curious, we “hoped” to dig up a few answers. There was a logical place to start. Regardless of time, one ingredient that doesn’t change over decades is the local saloon as a resource for people stories. Our visit in the Sea View Bar met these expectations. We had enlightening conversations with several people as we enjoyed a few beers.
Mora, the bartender, had a welcoming smile and bright mind. As an example of who lives in Hope, she is a six-year resident, probably late 20s, who is completely satisfied in her situation. Her real job is being a caretaker for a special, developmentally-challenged child in the local community. She works two days at the bar, where she even discovered a fellow bartender to be a cousin she never met before. Her boyfriend builds scaffolding and travels to the necessary locations. Mora says: “We don’t get bored or want for other activities. Our lives are busy and we have many interests. If I need those other things, I drive the 100 miles to Anchorage and get my fix. “
There seems to be a portion of the population that returns annually for the summer season. They just like it. One such person was Adam, pictured here with Mora. Hailing from Dallas, he is back for his twelfth consecutive summer. Adam will find work painting or whatever comes up, keeping in touch with whomever necessary using his computer and air card. The town’s stories include wealthy and not, old and young, male and female, artists and carpenters and retired and shop owners, etc. We did learn from one 25-year resident that some Alaskans, who can afford it, escape the long winter darkness in Hawaii for short periods of time. That answers some questions. In addition to our interesting talks in the bar, museum and shops, we watched the goings on from our advantageous spot at the end of Main Street. The Thursday-night jam session brought in a “crowd,” some pitched their tents to stay over. People do seek out their own type of satisfaction, wherever it is.
But, of course, we also spent time in the surrounding countryside. On the recommendation of a friendly library volunteer, one of our trips was a long ride up Palmer Creek Road to see the canyon views and along the forest road to see the scenes of stampeding Resurrection Creek. What a great tip! We watched gold panners camped out with their wares, searching for their pay days. And then we took a few walks, soaked up more fabulous canyon views and listened to the wind and water without another soul to be seen.
Put your cursor over the photos below if you’d like to know a little more. These are just a few of our stops in the neighborhood.
Taking the Hope Cutoff was the right turn for us. See you again down the road.