Pie, Tides and Aurora Dora


I really didn't have a plan for the next couple of days so I took a look at the weather forecast in various areas. I saw that it was going to be nice in Denali National Park later in the week so I decided to start making my way north.

There was a full moon last night and I had read that the bore tide is higher in the days surrounding a full moon so I thought I would head up to Hope to check it out. The Turnagain Arm is one of only a relative few places in the world where you can see this phenomenon. A tidal bore occurs when the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave (or waves) of water that travels up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the river or bay's current. A bunch of variables are required for a tidal bore to occur and Turnagain Arm has all of them. When particularly good bore tides are predicted, people will surf them all the way into the arm.

I traveled north on the Seward Highway and then took the Hope Highway into the small town of Hope. I arrived in the early evening, found a campsite at Porcupine Rec Area Campground and settled in for the night. I was planning to go into town in the morning, get breakfast at a cafe, and hopefully find wifi so that I could work on the blog until it was time to watch the tide.

When I drove into town in the morning, I discovered that Hope is a REALLY small town - what I thought was the only restaurant in town (Seaview Cafe and Bar) is only open on the weekends. The Seaview has live music on Friday and Saturday and, from what I've heard, becomes quite the party place. But now it was very quiet here. I did find a restaurant called New Discovery and they had a decently fast wifi connection so I ordered a breakfast burrito and got to work on my blog. I ended up sitting there so long that I felt obligated to order more food and they had the best-looking pie I have ever seen. I went with the Salted Caramel Apple (ala mode of course) and, it was not only the best-looking pie... it was the best tasting pie I have ever had! It was incredible.

I drove around and took a few pictures of the historic buildings and learned a little about the town's past. As is the case with many towns in Alaska, gold was the reason for its existence. Most of the buildings I saw were built in the late 1800's and mining occurred until around 1940. It is now a quaint town with a beautiful location on Turnagain Arm, a few cafes and one bar. There are a few cabins that look like they might be places that Anchorage residents come to in the summer and the live music at the Seaview appears to attract a young, hip crowd on the weekends.

I had looked up the tide tables and discovered that low tide would be at 2:51 pm. That was Anchorage time so I had to account for the fact that it would take the wave a while to reach Hope. This is where I made my mistake. I missed the initial wave because I had figured too much time and didn't start watching for it until it was over. Oh well - maybe I will have another opportunity to see it while I am here.


After leaving Hope, I went to Anchorage for a couple of nights. I really like the free camping at Cabela's and now know where I can find decent wifi. It's funny but I had not planned to spend any nights in Anchorage initially - partly because people talked about how unsafe it is (?) and partly because I didn't think I needed to spend time in a big city - but I do like the options of larger grocery stores and cheaper gas. I had been keeping my eye on the weather forecast and it still looked like it was going to be nice in Denali so I started north. 

I wanted to check out Talkeetna even though it sounded kind of touristy from what I had heard so I had that be my destination for the day. The Talkeetna area is where many flightseeing tours leave from so I saw a lot of float planes on lakes along the road to town as well as flying above. Right before town there is a rest stop that offered my first peek at Denali. It was a beautiful view of the Alaska Range but, as usual, Denali was shrouded in clouds. There was a time where the tip of the mountain came out of the top of the clouds but I didn't see the mountain in its full glory. 

Once I got into Talkeetna, I could see that my preconception of the town being touristy was correct. I decided to park and walk around a bit anyway. There were the usual tour operators as well as shops and restaurants but there was also some historic buildings and a salmon education center. I couldn't resist walking into a shop named Aurora Dora and found it was a woman named Dora who photographs and sells prints of the Aurora Borealis. Dora herself mans the shop and I got talking with her about my desire to photograph some northern lights while I am here. She gave me a couple of websites to check the probability of seeing them and showed me a couple of pictures she shot in late August so I left encouraged. She was a really helpful and interesting woman.

I left Talkeetna and continued north  toward Alaska's newest State Park campground - K’esugi Ken in Denali State Park. I had heard good things about it and, it has electric and is only $30/night. This is a great price for a campsite with electric in Alaska. It's a huge bonus that it comes with jaw-dropping views of the Alaska Range and, if you're lucky, Denali. The Great One didn't reveal itself to me that day but I am hoping to see it in it's namesake National Park when I visit tomorrow.

I'll take one more hike to the lookout at the campground tomorrow morning and then it's on to Denali!