Aug 07, 2011
Aug 26, 2011
We packed up at Lake Tahoe and got ready for our trip to Lee Vining, on the way to Yosemite. It was about a three and a half hour drive and we stopped on the way at a really authentic western diner - there was even a cowboy in there wearing a Stetson! It was run by two lovely ladies - really good value and and full of diner memorabilia. Considering how out of the way this roadside stop was we didn't feel that it was decorated for the tourists, more that it had evolved over a number of years. They were obviously fans of John Wayne as there were numerous photos of him in various westerns. Flo had soup and biscuits (home made broccoli and cheese soup) and the lads commented that the burger was one of the best they had so far on the trip. The ladies suggested that we should visit Bodie on our way to Lee Vining as they thought it would be well worth our time. So Tom Tom was duly reset and we ventured across the plains towards Bodie which is known as a ghost town in the area. It is in fact an abandoned mining town which has been left in a state of " arrested decay" - so not Disneyfied but left as the inhabitants had just gone out for a walk. Bodie was the largest gold rush town in the 1870s and we happened to arrive on a "Friends of Bodie" celebration day - so some of the conservation group were dressed in authentic costumes and were giving talks about the town and its history. In its heyday Bodie was considered to be a town of debauchery and loose living - one road was devoted to the shacks of the ladies of the night and there was a thriving Chinese community within the town as they were used as cheap labour for the railway, laundry and the mines. We all found walking round Bodie fascinating, if rather hot, as you could peer in through the windows of the boarded up buildings and look at the beds, school books, even the newspaper torn up in the outside lav. Some buildings were open to visit, like the church, one of the 30 saloons and the jailhouse and a building which had been turned into a Bodie museum. When the gold rush came to an end, many townspeople simply left their belongings and moved on, as they could not afford to ship on any of their furniture, or gave items away to their neighbours. A lot of the town had been destroyed by fire but the remains were actually some authentic American history. Paul and Julian were keen on the onward journey to Lee Vining as it involved off roading on an unmade road for several bumpy miles. We reached Lee Vining late afternoon and checked into our B & B at Hess House and booked Mark into a nearby motel.