Jun 10, 2015
A sense of adventure....one of the many things I hope my kids come away with in life. The ability to just jump in the car and drive, not knowing where you will end up, but determined to have a good time no matter what. To get lost, to play tourist, to never stop exploring. I figure if I drag them along to fulfill my need to see every small town within driving distance, at least one of them will come away with the same happy feelings I get when I see old buildings and run down streets. One out of four means I have a chance right? I hope so...
And that is where we found ourselves....in Hope, AK! We have driven past this turn off on the highway no less than 30 times, never really asking ourselves what was down there, until the other day. So we took it...we drove down a long stretch of highway with amazing views on either side of the car. We drove until we saw a tiny little sign that said "main st". We parked, and everyone jumped out.
There are only a few buildings when you walk down main street, a little cafe with just as much charm as one can imagine. A tiny information center, and a couple private properties. The kids ran up and down the streets, jumping in puddles. The fear of cars was quite limited! We walked to the end of this one road of downtown to find ourselves fascinated by the "historical district".
There really is nothing I love more than a small town with a rich history. Hope was an old mining town, as many of the small towns in Alaska are. True to historical form, there are some buildings and properties they have kept, and maintained them for the tourist population such as ourselves!
I will never know if Chris truly enjoys going on these excursions with me, if he doesn't he puts on a really good act. We walked together as the kids were running around and talked about how quiet and incredibly charming this little town was. He would then make fun of me when I would throw out a "I would love to live in a small town where there is only one road in and out, where I walk to the same cafe every morning for my cup of coffee....." blah blah blah. Chris would chime in with "you know there isn't a Nordstrom's here...or a Target....and I doubt you would have any need for the 150 pairs of shoes in your closet...we might even have to share a closet in one of these small houses" OH THE HORROR!
Nevertheless, it had all the makings of a small town. Old cars in the middle of a vast overgrown lot. Old slides that I had to assure the children would fall apart should they defy my request to NOT get on them. Old fences that were hanging together by a few nails and some wire. I mean...I was in American Pickers heaven! (please tell me someone else watched that show religiously)
Just as you think you are done seeing all there is to see in this small gem, you turn a corner and find a lovely little "history museum". No admission but donations are welcome. This four building little spot was the original Hope. The buildings are old with creaking doors as the wind blows. The metal sheets on the roof bang as a gust rolls by. The kids would scream every time the doors would slam shut. The tools were rusted, the old saddles covered in dust, the smell of old wood was amazing! Like something you just wanted to bottle and take home with you. The kids would ask one million questions about what things were....if they too could live here. We would try to answer every question as quickly as possible before yelling "DON'T TOUCH THAT IT'S OLD!!!".
Once we explored all we could on foot, we headed back to the car and decided to make a few wrong turns for the sake of adventure. We took a road up to Resurrection Trail, a celebrity of trails as far as trails go in Alaska. We then turned onto a road called Palmer Creek, which took us up up and away! I don't know how many times I said ....uhh Christoper? Should we even be on this road? It was narrow...and the elevation was a little crazy. But as you can see the views were worth the anxiety attack. After driving for what felt like forever we found a campsite at the end of this road called Coeur D'Alene campground. Probably the most hidden, off the beaten path campground in Alaska. But now on our list for a must stay!
After making our way back down the crazy steep gravel road the kids were begging for pizza. We decided to come to the end of our adventure...literally the road just ends! One way into Hope...and one way out! (have you seen the movie Wrong Turn?) Anyway, the road does just end at yet another insanely beautiful campground that sits right on the edge of the mountain, with views that will literally make you gasp. It is so hidden, and the surroundings remind you more of a rain forest than the backwoods of Alaska. Chris and I, and probably Odette could have stayed all day and night, but the pizza heathens were declaring war so we departed....
Until next time Hope!