This morning before I left, I was chatting with my cottage neighbor, Richard–who is a retired 5th grade school teacher and comes to Willow Creek Motel to rent the same cottage for a week almost every month. He was an interesting guy and big into geology. He had some rocks that he picked and insisted I pick some out to take home. My favorites were called Thunder Eggs. They are formed from lava under the earth into what looks like lumpy eggs. You cut them open and he said “you always get a surprise”. The cross sections were beautiful so I chose my favorite ones and went on my way. He is also a photographer and recommended I visit Bodie closer to late afternoon, when the light hits it the best. So, I started off on some other destinations first. This was my view heading south on 395.
My first stop was Mono Lake. This is one of the oldest lakes in the Western hemisphere and hauntingly beautiful. I have seen it before and this time was quite shocked at how low it was. It’s a saline soda lake that was formed 760,000 years ago. Because there is no outlet, it causes high levels of salts to accumulate so the water is highly alkaline. It smells pretty briney when you walk out and its definitely low on water.
After hanging out here for a bit, I continued south on 395, this portion is a scenic byway and was just gorgeous. Beautiful fall colors against the mountainside made for a perfect ride. My destination was Mammoth Lakes. I wanted to see Devil’s Postpile, but amazingly enough, they said the parking was full. I would have to wait at least an hour. I did not want to cut my time short on Bodie so I decided to save that for next time. However, the ride out was worth every minute of it.
After a good few hours of Mammoth Lakes and scenic loops, I headed back up to start my tour of Bodie. The road in was just as fun, twists and turns, open meadows with yellow aspens, and mountain tops to look at on my way in. The last 3 miles into Bodie is a washboard gravel road. Coming into town gave me a smile, I love this place.
First stop was the morgue. I didn’t realize what it was until I looked in the window and read my self guided tour brochure.
If you don’t know about the town of Bodie, a quick summary. The town’s heyday was short-lived, between 1877-1881. W.S. Bodey discovered gold here in 1859. He died months later in a blizzard. Bodey’s bones were re-discovered in 1879 and somehow the town’s name came to be spelled “Bodie”.
At it’s peak in 1879 it had 8,500 people with over 60 saloons. It had a wild and lawless reputation. It’s poplualtion decreased to only 1,500 by the 1890’s and was destroyed by fire twice. The last fire in 1932 wiped out all but 10% of it, it then became a ghost town in the 40’s. The odd thing about it though was that people’s belongings were left behind as if they just walked out. Pots left on the stove, hair brushes left on the dresser, saddles, bridles, all left in their places. As if they all just walked away. There are some claims of hauntings and they say to look at your photos carefully when you get home. Hmmm….
There is a book in the small museum from people that have written letters saying they took an item from Bodie ghost town and have either been haunted or had bad luck every since. So they sent the items back along with the letter. There must have been 50 to 80 letters written like that. Could be a ploy not to steal but…it was pretty convincing.
Afterwards, I headed out with Bodie in my side mirrors and reflected on what a great day I had. I had dinner at the hotel I am staying at (The Topaz Lodge) and had a view of Topaz Lake. The weekend went fast but it was well worth the ride out. Hope you enjoyed the photo journey. Until next time!