This weekend I had the honor of attending my boss’s gorgeous wedding at Sugar Bowl Resort in Norden, California. The proceedings even involved everyone riding a chairlift to the top of a run for cocktail hour. It was a blast! I’ve wanted to check out Bodie (a gold mining ghost town) and Mono Lake for a while now, so I decided to tack them onto the weekend adventure.
I woke up bright and early (read: 5am) Sunday morning after the wedding to make the three-hour drive from the Truckee Donner Lodge, where we were staying for the wedding, to the ghost town Bodie. The drive from Truckee to Bodie was incredibly scenic, running along Lake Tahoe and through some cute little old fashioned towns and the capital of Nevada, Carson City. All with the Sierras as a constant stunning backdrop.
To give some background on Bodie and give some context to the eerie vibes, W.S. Bodey discovered gold here in 1859 after gold prospectors moved toward the eastern side of the Sierras to try their luck there. In 1875, a giant body of gold ore was discovered when a mine collapsed. At its peak, the population of Bodie was around 7,000. Mining in the town stopped in 1942, after the success of mining operations dwindled and mines closed down one by one. Because there were no moving companies in the area, people packed out only what they could fit in their wagon. As a result, many things were left behind and you can see what remains inside the deteriorating buildings. For example, peeking into the schoolhouse, it looks like people just disappeared in the midst of a lesson.
I rolled up to the turnoff for Bodie right at 9am, opening time for the park. The road after the turnoff is 12.5 miles, the last two and half miles of which are unpaved and gravely. When I arrived at the ranger booth around 9:30am, there was already a small line of cars waiting to enter. The price to enter the park is $8 per adult and $5 per child. I also paid the $2 extra for the self-guided tour book, which included a map of the State Historic Park and details corresponding with the different building stops on the tour route. They also offer free guided tours.
The history of the town and what remains of the buildings is intriguing to say the least. Apparently, along with the mining industry, Bodie attracted a wilder crowd, meaning that in its heyday the streets were lined with saloons, brothels and opium dens. I really enjoyed seeing the church, which was built in 1882, burned in 1928 and then was restored by of the heads of a mining company at Bodie.
It was also super creepy to see the morgue building with caskets still inside. Some say that Bodie carries a curse and others claim to have seen ghosts inhabiting the ramshackle buildings. There is a museum/bookstore in the complex where I had the chance to flip through a book of letters that visitors had written about returning items that they had taken from Bodie, as they swore they were cursed as a result.
Overall, I think Bodie is definitely worth a visit if you are in the Yosemite/Tahoe area, especially if you are a gold rush history buff. I’d recommend getting there early to beat the heat and the crowds.
After turning back onto Highway 395, I continued south to Mono Lake. I had done minimal research on the area, so I pulled into the first Mono Lake vista that I saw advertised, which happened to be the Mono Lake Boardwalk Trail. As I continued on the highway around the lake, I also stopped along Picnic Shortcut Road to walk along the lakefront there.
After my first two lake pit stops I was running on empty, having only had gas station coffee when I took off from Truckee at 6am. I pulled over at a cute little restaurant called the Mono Cone in Lee Vining. It was the type of old fashioned place with a window outdoors to order and pick up. I did what any reasonable adult would do after a night of partying down and ordered a strawberry milkshake and French fries. The food was delish. The French fries were fabulously greasy, but still maintained a slight crisp. The strawberry shake was perfect as well, even having little chunks of strawberry in it. Interestingly, however, that they didn’t serve strawberry ice cream… I tried not to think about that one too hard.
I continued on to the South Tufa Area of Mono Lake. This is arguably the most picturesque (and tourist-filled) vantage point of the lake. In the South Tufa, you can see many of the limestone pillar formations that Mono Lake is famous for.
In just a one-mile loop trail, you can get right up to the water’s edge to observe the tufa tower formations, which form when calcium-rich fresh water springs push up through the lake water, which contains carbonate. Together, calcium and carbonate form the white limestone.
Mono Lake was stunning and certainly worth every moment of the hours of driving I completed on Sunday. The day of traveling by myself was a nice change of pace, as I was on my own schedule and didn’t feel as ridiculous stopping to take photos every two minutes. I can’t wait to go back to Mono Lake soon when I have more time and explore the area more!
Taco Bell Critique
This review is for the Taco Bell at 1420 Ary Lane, Dixon, California. This was strangely my third time visiting this Taco Bell, just by complete coincidence. I went here over Fourth of July weekend last year after a float on the American River and again this past Fourth of July weekend on my way back from Tahoe. This location has been fantastic each time I have visited. This time around it was the perfect dinner on my way to Truckee after a long day at work. I ordered a Fiery Doritos Locos Taco and a Beefy Fritos Burrito off of the Dollar Cravings menu. I slathered everything in taco sauce, as I usually do; this time opting for mild. The Beefy Fritos Burrito tastes like one of the concoctions I’ve created on trail when backpacking, with the addition of nacho cheese. Everything about my experience at this Taco Bell was superb, though I will deduct a couple of ambiance points for the restrooms, which were not the cleanest. I would definitely randomly and accidentally take this turnoff without realizing I’ve visited this Taco Bell, only to realize I’ve been here before as I pull in the parking lot, again. My final rating is as follows:
- Ambiance: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Food: 9/10
More pictures from the weekend: