California

So I flew out of Los Angeles after visiting Mr. Hitler’s home and headed north. It gets damn hot once you get “over the hill”. That’s LA talk for the hill between the city and the valley. I really pushed it and the hot winds were kicking my ass. Pushing it in LA is rough. You can be riding 85MPH and people will fly past you. Not on this route. Traffic was tight, therefor it was cutting the lane time. This is a freaky California experience. In Cali if the traffic gets tight, bikers ride between the cars. It is a frightening thrill ride. That’s just what I did for many a mile. The further I went the hotter and windier it got. I was headed up the road that goes between the Sierra Mountains and Death Valley. Hot stuff! I decided I would stay at a campsite in a town called Bishop. I knew the place. I stayed there before. The reason for this route was two fold. One, I was going to take that western route across Nevada that Bruce at Hovenweep told me about, and two, there was a ghost town where I wanted to spend some time. Bodie!

On the way to Bodie is Mono Lake. I was planning to pass it right by but the light was attracting me. There were holes of sunlight hitting Mono Lake as multiple storms surrounded it. I had to have a look. I am glad I did!

Pretty freaky huh? Mono Lake is a shallow saline soda lake. It’s one of the oldest lakes in North America. In certain parts where freshwater springs and the alkaline lake water mix these calcium-carbonate spires and knobs called tufa appear.

But my real reason for being up this way was to see Bodie. I had tried to see it once before, but I showed up  after 5pm and they are very serious about having everyone out by 6pm. Being that the day was getting late and I would have put myself in that same situation, plus there were these storms to the north, I decided to stay in the nearest town Lee Vining.

Staying in Lee Vining allowed me to return to the lake and take a few more shots. A number of people were trying to capture the lightning coming from the storms in the background. I was not successful with the lightning, but the place still looked super cool.

I had hoped to do some work on this blog while I was in Lee Vining, but a storm knocked out the internet. In fact, it knocked out all the power for a short time. In the morning I had a delicious breakfast sandwich at the motel next door as I sat in their garden. Then it was off to the ghost town.

Bodie.

Bodie is actually named after a guy named Bodey who discovered gold there. No one is exactly sure why the spelling was changed. They say a sign painter wrote it that way and it stuck. Unfortunately for Bodey, he couldn’t correct them as he froze to death the first winter after discovering the gold.

Once word was out about the discovery of gold, Bodie soon grew to a town of about 10,000.

Bodie became one of the most notorious wild west towns. It didn’t have the iconic names and legends of the wild west, but it did have 65 saloons at one point. Murders, shootouts, bar room brawls and stagecoach holdups were regular occurrences. It had a Chinatown with many opium dens as well.

 

Only about a fifth of Bodie’s original buildings exist, but they are left pristine. Everything has been maintained as it was after the people left. It would have been more expensive to ship things out of Bodie than for people to buy new things, so much was left behind.

I was fortunate to be able to take a tour of the old refinery. They only give tours to 20 at a time and when I had shown up there were 19 names on the list.

This guy Mike was real knowledgeable about Bodie’s history and he is passionate about it’s preservation. That’s a giant cam shaft he is leaning on.

 

So that’s it for California. I would have love to stay longer, but I really wanted to catch the end of Sturgis. It was time to head east!

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