About thirty miles from here lies the Bodie State Historic Park, a 19th century gold mining boom town that was abandoned in the 1940’s, and developed into a state park in the 1960’s but left in its state of “arrested decay.”
(Don’t worry. I’ll get to the pants.)
Here’s a shot I took today, capturing almost all of the main part of town.
Back in 1879, it looked more like this. There were about 2,000 buildings and close to 10,000 residents.
(Photo of handout passed around by park ranger)
There are no re-enactors in period costumes strolling about, and that helps add to the ghostly feel of the place. If you go — and it is well worth the drive and the price of admission — you’ll hear only the wind, the sound of footsteps on dirt streets, a few birds, maybe the buzz of a fly. You’ll also hear gasps, camera clicks, and comments in at least three languages from your fellow tourists (the park packs in about 14,000 every summer), but everyone in the comparatively small crowd there with me on this Monday morning in July was surprisingly quiet and respectful of the surroundings.
You can walk around and up to the buildings at your own pace, and peer inside the glass to see what’s been left behind. I spent about 2.5 hours doing just that. Most of my photos need no explanation. Enjoy the haunting silence.
Barkeep. Shot o’ whiskey, please.
See the two old gas pumps?
In the next shot, you’ll see what they look like in the winter.
That’s one of them in the left foreground. This place gets 5-10 feet of snow in the winter, and is accessible only by skis, snowshoes, or snowmobile. (Photo of handout passed around by park ranger)
Leave it to molder long enough, and apparently a globe of the earth turns into the Death Star.
Here’s my thought. If I were a local cardiologist? I’d pay someone to stand inside one of these buildings, and just quietly lean sideways and say “boo” every time a tourist hoods eyes with hands and peers in the window. Because that would cause instant heart attacks, several times a day.
Guaranteed stream of additional income, right there.
Main Street during the heyday (photo of handout passed around by park ranger)…
… and today
Why do so few buildings remain?
This kid. Bodie Bill.
In 1932 he played with matches, exactly like you’re not supposed to, and the resulting fire destroyed all but 5-10% of the town.
That’s a big accomplishment for a 2 1/2-year-old. (photo of handout passed around by park ranger)
And the dead people’s view of town
My favorite shot of the day. You can make out my silhouette in the glass, see the building reflected behind me to the right, and you can see into this room that used to be a gymnasium. Don’t freak. That’s just an old deflated speed bag hanging in the window, looking all sinister and spectral-like.
I was pretty dusty after walking around the ghost town all morning, so I decided to head about 20 miles to Bridgeport, to dip myself into the Travertine Hot Springs. Word has it that clothing is optional here, but everyone I saw was wearing a bathing suit, including the two women coating each other with mineral mud while speaking in what I think was an eastern European language, and I figured if they weren’t naked, nobody else was gonna be either. So I ducked behind some low scrubby bushes and changed into my suit.
(Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about the pants.)
The view from my “dressing room” was breathtaking.
Sitting in a hot one!
Got into this one too.
Here’s a video of the bubbling source of one of the pools. It’s about the size of a softball, and you really shouldn’t stick your finger in it. Guess how I know.
And now… the story of my traveling pants. A few things to keep in mind:
- Our RV park does not allow clotheslines.
- When we are in an RV park that does not allow clotheslines, I defiantly use the truck’s grille guard as a drying rack.
- Sometimes I forget that I’ve hung an item or two on the grille guard.
And that is how, after driving fifty miles today (mostly highway, maybe ten on dirt roads), and returning to the BFT after my dip in the hot springs, I noticed this “rag” caught in the bars, untangled it, and realized I’d gone all that way with my own damn leggings leading the charge. The cute ones! With the skirt attached! Might as well have been a flag bearing the slogan “Forgetful Laundresses of the World — Unite!” Sheesus, Emily.
Lessons of the day, which I learned when I was two, but clearly needed reminding of at age 47:
- Don’t play with matches.
- Don’t stick your finger in boiling water.
- Know where your pants are at all times.