Eastern High Sierras, California (Sep 16/14) – Ghost towns are alluring as they provide a glimpse into the past, a romantic ideation and flirtation of a time gone by. Bodie, a town of 10,000 in it’s 1880’s heyday of mining gold, gambling and prostitution is left intact like the day it was vacated; the store shelves stocked with provisions from the early 1900’s, the schoolhouse with the day’s assignment on the chalkboard, and clothes hanging in the closets. The air heavy with dust and the stories Bodie holds tight create an eerie ‘un-comfortable-ness’. The abandonment seemed rushed, loose ends were still loose ends, it seemed nothing was taken by the previous inhabitants… just left behind as is. As quoted by a young girl whose family moved there, “Goodbye God, I’m going to Bodie”. Her words rang true considering the town was inhabitated by 65 saloons, and gunfire was a daily occurrence. One man on his way home was shot 3 times by stray bullets.
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Joining N&J on the visit to Bodie were 2 flight attendants from Brussels and Holland touring on motorcycles who weren’t able to manoeuvre the bumpy dirt road into Bodie.
Driving south from Bodie was Mono Lake known for its high salt content (2.5 times that of the ocean)… it’s volcanic islands and huge limestone fortifications known as ’tufa’ could be found all along the lake side. They were formed from the spring water that bubbled up from the bottom. The lake level has slowly dropped over the decades due to the water exports to the Los Angeles region from the creeks that feed Mono Lake, causing the salt concentration to rise, threatening the existence of the lake and it’s inhabitants (thick with algae, billions of brine shrimp larvae, dense with tiny alkali flies & gulls feeding on them). The mandate now is to return the lake back to original levels, thus LA will have to look for its water elsewhere. A Californian in conversation with N&J offhandedly remarked, “We’ll Just Buy Our Water From Canada”. N&J responded that irregardless of Vancouver’s vast supply of water, restrictions are implemented every year in May as a precaution… too bad California is now is reacting to their plight now, instead of being proactive years ago.
Apparently the salt content of the lake is good for washing clothes because of the high alkalinity… here is J doing the laundry, first time since leaving Vancouver???
Next stop: Mammoth Lakes. Essentially a ski resort (2100’ vertical). Usually their ski season starts in early November, but with the ensuing drought they are experiencing difficulties with sufficient snow levels to start up their season on time. The village very much a carbon copy of Whistler (albeit a miniature version) was developed by Intrawest, the same as Whistler. Just so happens a Music & Whiskey festival was well underway. 31 distilleries & 7 Breweries showcasing their spirits, along with live music. After spending the evening listening to the music, N&J found a cozy spot along one of the residential streets nearby. Next day checked out an earthquake fault up in the nearby mountain, scary to see the earth’s potential so up close & graphic.
The Eastern Sierra’s are known for the hot springs bubbling up all along the route. Eager to soak out travel weary bones (and “scrub off the stink”), a stop at the Keough Hot Springs was mandatory. Upon first visiting the advertised campground, it was discovered the prices to be extraordinary ($23 camping & $10 per person to use the hot pool)… this was not to be.
While driving back to the highway, N had a feeling to drive down a ‘power line’ dirt road only to discover natural hot spring fed pools (5 pools to be exact). With delight & excitement upon their good luck & fortune, stayed for two days soaking up the heat and minerals from the hot spring. Although the signs posted by ‘The City of Los Angeles’ (it is their power line) says ’No Overnight Camping’, a local said not to worry, they do it all the time.
Met some incredible people visiting the pools, some who visit regularly. Other than the buzzing of the high voltage lines (sounded like rain)… it was quite peaceful & remarkable.