Day 33: From Ghost Town to Tourist Town

Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
Trip End Jul 29, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, July 3, 2010

Route: From Lee Vining, CA to Sonora, CA
Kilometres: 365

We had a very full day planned ahead, so it was an early start – lucky for us our motel had a brilliant coffee shop attached! The local beans and baking were a mint way to start the day. Our first stop was the town of Bodie, about 45mins north. Bodie is a ghost town, that's been preserved as a California State Park. This town was booming during the Gold Rush, and the population boomed over 10,000 – it was apparently one of the biggest and craziest of its time, which boasted over 40 saloons (bit of a party town!) and everything from a general store to a schoolhouse. What is fascinating about this town is that once the gold rush ended, everyone just abandoned their homes, leaving Bodie in a state of 'arrested decay’ – many of the buildings are still standing and have the contents within, just abandoned and collecting many layers of dust! It’s hard to think of it not has a movie set, but a place where thousands of people lived and thrived... and then just left once the gold ran out. It was really interesting to walk into a few of the houses, peer into windows, and capture random items of its day. We wandered through the entire townsite, walking guided tour book in hand, and then went up to the graveyard on the hill – fascinating to read where everyone was from and dates that even went within the last few decades.

Thankful we made the early start (as the crowds started rolling in once we were wrapping up our tour – kind of takes away from the ghost town feel!), we made our way back towards Lee Vining (with a quick viewpoint over Mono Lake – very cool looking!) and to the eastern gates of Yosemite. We knew it was going to be a very busy day to be hitting Yosemite as it was the 4th of July weekend (Saturday at that!), so we braced ourselves for a lot of traffic. Not so bad on the scenic winding road leading into Yosemite, but you could definitely tell by amount of cars parked on the side at any scenic viewpoint within the park! Alas, we were able to find some quieter spaces in recommended vantage spots – at the Toulumne Meadows, Tayenta Lake, and Olmstead Point for an amazing view of El Capitan and Half Dome (and the entire Yosemite Valley).  Driving into the actual valley was another nice drive, though we didn’t bother to stop at many other viewpoints, dissuaded by the many other cars overflowing. Little did we know the amount of traffic we would hit once we were in the valley! Sigh – at least the traffic allowed us to take some great pics from the car and not bother finding any parking. We did end up parking in the day lot for a bit, and wandered with the masses into the village, though only to grab a bite to eat and then make our way out of the park.

We can see the beauty of this great park, it’s just unfortunate the only chance we had to see it was probably on one of the busiest days of the year! Finally making our way from the masses, the windy intestine-like road made for some interesting driving out the western side, and we made it to our Sonora, our home for the night. Can’t believe we’ll be having our first 4th of July tomorrow in America, and can’t WAIT to catch up with Becky and Tim on countdown to their wedding next week!
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