Bodie State Historic Park, California 10/22/10

One of the main streets. The mill appears in the background. Touring it was off limits.

Here we are at another ghost town! Bodie was once a bustling and lawless gold mining town boasting a population of about 10,000 in 1879. Today it's a ghost town maintained in a state of "arrested decay" by the State of California. Only about five percent of the buildings remain from its 1880's heyday - fire took out most of the town in 1932. According to the brochure, between 1860 and 1941, the Bodie Mining District produced close to $100 million in gold and silver! Mama Mia!

Enlarge the right photo to read the text -- it's quite thought-provoking....

Bodie is in the middle of nowhere and the day we visited was chilly and windy. Apparently the town was second to none for wickedness, badmen, and "the worst climate out of doors." Here's a quote from the brochure: One little girl, whose family was taking her to the remote and infamous town, wrote in her diary, "Goodbye God. I'm going to Bodie." The phrase came to be known throughout the West.

We walked the dusty lanes and peeked in grimy windows... and none remains of Bodie's glory days.


Yosemite! 10/21/10

Breathtaking Tioga Peak. El Capitan in all its glory. Walking in the meadow, with Yosemite Falls in view.

Lunch below the three-tier falls. So much beauty here. Jimmy posing "in front" of Half Dome - good one, Jimmy!

Yosemite: If you’re lucky enough to be able to visit this queen of National Parks – GO! We did! The 9945’ Tioga Pass into Yosemite was open*, so Thurs morning we dressed in layers and took off. The temp really was freezing at the top of the pass: 32° with patches of snow visible, but the day warmed nicely by the time we made it into Yosemite Valley. I hadn’t visited in more than 20 years and this was Jimmy’s first time here. We gawked and walked as much as we could in one day, hiking to the base of both Bridalveil Fall and 2,425’ Yosemite Falls (the tallest in North America), where we ate our picnic lunch. The fragrance of balsam fir filled the air, and we breathed in appreciably. I could live here, but Jimmy sez I can’t live in a National Park. What a wonderful day!
Giant sequoias in the Tuolumne Grove. Jimmy (the rascal) throwing snowballs at the camera!

On our way out of the Park, we stopped at Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, and we walked down (and then back UP) the one-mile trail. Pretty healthy trek when a 500’ elevation loss/gain difference is thrown in. Sequoiadendron giganteum – they’re not the tallest and they’re not the oldest, but they are the most massive tree in existence: sequoia giants!
And finally, when we reached the Tioga Pass close to 5 pm, we stopped so Jimmy could throw a snowball or two!
*[Tioga Pass closed several days later due to snow]


Mono Lake Tufa Towers - 10/20/10

On our way back from driving the June Lake Loop, we stopped at the South Tufa area of Mono Lake and walked the Tufa Trail. Tufa is calcium carbonate knobs and spires that were exposed as the lake's water level dropped. The lake itself is said to be three times saltier than the ocean. It's a stopover for migrating birds, such as the eared grebe, and briny shrimp and a brazillion alkali flies feed everybody! The water level is increasing now that Los Angeles can no longer divert water like they did for many years. The following link is chock-a-block full of info for anybody that would like to learn more about the lake and the chronology of the water levels.


October 20th - June Lake Loop Road

On Hwy 395... Oh, lucky us -- fall color seems to be at its peak!  We were on the way to Lee Vining, California (Yosemite's "back door"), where we stopped at Mono Vista RV Park for a few nights. Absolutely gorgeous vistas! Jimmy and I drove the June Lake Loop and snapped some (actually, a lot!) pictures. Here are a few dandies!



Autumn in the high country.  It doesn't get any better!


On the Truckee River in Nevada

The Biggest Little City in the World! Truckee River zipping thru the city.

Biker Chick next to a gorgeous flaming bush. Canada geese on the river.

Blew into Reno on the 18th and parked our fine little home at River's Edge RV Park (actually in Sparks) for a couple of nights. We were literally parked on the Truckee River. That was nice. And we could walk out our door and hop on the bike path that parallels the river and ride from East Sparks to West Reno, approx 12 miles, one way. But first, we drove to downtown Reno and dropped a dollar or two in the $lot machines... keep the economy afloat and all that, which didn't take us very long! Next morning we hit the pedals and rode the path thru Reno, marveling on the many beautiful parks we saw. Others might spend their time in Reno differently, but for us riding the bike path was the highlight of our stay.

On the way to Reno NV 10/17/10

Kind of a rainy, gray day - good travel day... from Ely, driving west on Hwy 50 "The Loneliest Road in America." When it came time to stop for the night, we didn't see anything that suited us, till past Austin NV when we saw a plain sign that read: Big Creek Campground. We turned in. No sign indicated how far it was from the hwy, but we ASSumed the C/G was close. Ended up driving down an excruciatingly bad gravel road for 12 miles (it only seemed longer). There was no place to turn around or we might have. Be that as it may, we found a lovely quiet C/G in the Toiyable Nat'l Forest (no hookups, of course), and went for a walk along the creek. It was pretty chilly, and snow had fallen on the mtn peaks. We were stopped in our tracks when the creek crossed the gravel road and since we didn't have our boots and weren't willing to get a knee-deep soaker, we turned around! There were only five sites in this C/G and we were all by ourselves. Talk about quiet!

The next morning we had to repeat the jaw-jarring drive back to Hwy 50, and continued west in better weather, heading for Reno. We stopped when we saw the Shoe Tree near Middlegate NV (Google it), and I got out to photo it. The pumpkin display was in Austin or Eureka (?) and if you enlarge the photo, you should be able to read the sign: A five-holer! Only one in Nevada. Un-huh!


Ol' No. 93 - More Ely, Nevada!

“All aboard” for a trip back in time on 102-yr-old steam-powered No. 93, a workhorse of the Nevada Northern Railway. She was supposed to leave at 1 pm for her regularly scheduled 1½ hour train ride, but today was special – TJ Lanie, the engineer who took No. 93 on her last ore run in 1979 passed away this week at age 91. He was an Ely native and he was being buried today. Ol’ 93 departed the station @ 1:30 so she could stop at the top of a hill in view of the Ely cemetery. When the engineer's graveside service ended, today’s young engineer leaned on the horn in fond farewell. Being a part of this felt kind of special to all of us passengers and we waved our own farewells! The train continued on thru the sage-covered hills to the turn-around point at Keystone near Ruth, Nevada, home to one of the world's largest copper mines. Quite a nice train trip!

Train turn around point. Three different views of tailings. The last picture was taken at Garnet Mtn where we "rock hammered" for garnets... didn't find any gems, but enjoyed getting dusty-dirty immensely. We sounded like the steam-powered train ourselves puffing up the 7,000' mtn! You can see the HUGE "piles" of tailings in the background.

Ely NV Oct 14/15/16

We arrived in Ely on Thursday and signed up at the very nice KOA for three nights. Our first stop was Ely's excellent visitor’s center, where we learned the steam train would be running on Saturday (oboy) and about other sights, like the charcoal ovens and garnet hill. Our mail was supposed to be forwarded to the Ely PO and we hoped it would be here on Friday [got it on Saturday], so we had plenty to keep us busy in the meantime

Enlarge photo to read

These huge "beehive" ovens were made by Italian masons during the 1870's silver mining boom in Ward, and are in amazingly good condition 130+ years later. The 11-mile drive from Ely on a gravel road was very dusty, but from 7000', we could see miles and miles of the Steptoe Valley - wow!


Twin Falls, Idaho - Oct 13th

We overnighted here and our allergies kicked in big time -- the area flat-out stunk of cow manure and the air was filled with dust... harvest season was in full swing. We drove to the falls and were disappointed. Either the Snake River water level is WAY down or else water is being diverted to a hydroelectric plant, but the falls is puny and far from being a Niagara! I was, however, impressed with a couple of neat preying mantises I found while walking thru the park.

10-12-10 uh oh....

Smartie gets FLAT in Shoshone! See what happens when you drive on "less than stellar" roads...!
We noticed the low tire symbol on Smartie's dash as we were leaving Craters of the Moon, but the tire looked only marginally low. We hooked Smartie to Tergel. About 15 miles down the road, Jimmy checked the tire and it didn't look any worse, so we continued on toward Twin Falls ID. As we were driving thru Shoshone, a guy pulled up next to us and yelled, "You got a flat tire!" ...and we were right in front of Ben's Automotive! We wheeled in and Ben replaced the tire with what he had. The tire had actually split all the way around and was coming off the rim! The rim wasn't damaged; we averted disaster. When we got to Twin Falls, Jimmy went to a tire shop and bought two new matching rear tires for Smartie. This is one for the books: Right in front of a car-fix-it shop! We could've been in the middle of nowhere... with no cell service, of course.


Oct 11-12 Craters of the Moon Nat'l Monument

As soon as the temp rose above 40° Tues morning, we set out with our flashlights to explore three Craters of the Moon well-known caves (or lava tubes): Indian Tunnel, Boy Scout Cave, and Beauty Cave.  Craters of the Moon was established in 1924 by President Coolidge as a 750,000 national monument to preserve “a weird and scenic landscape, peculiar to itself.” 

Jimmy and I drove 40 miles “out of our way” to see for ourselves this stark and weird landscape, blackened by multiple lava flows roughly every two thousand years. Hmmm, the last flow was approx 2,000 years ago… so it seemed very prudent that we stay only one night! 


Jimmy @ a cave opening. 


Above and below: Me clambering my way thru hulking Indian Tunnel.

As you can see, Indian Tunnel is enormous, or at least we thought so – 30’ high, 50’ wide, and 800’ long. We had to scramble over large rock piles and climb through a small opening to exit the cave at the far end ... not an easy feat.

Outside Indian Tunnel exit -- look at this crazy mixed-up pile!


 A cave we didn't explore -- looks very fragile, tho it probably isn't.

Boy Scout Cave was really dark, with patches of ice on the floor. We didn’t get too far in before being blocked by barricades due to “unstable ceiling conditions.” Yikes! The light in dead center, above, is the opening of Boy Scout Cave.

We entered Beauty Cave by way of a gaping opening and had to scramble down a slope of mountainous rocks to reach the smooth pahoehoe* floor of this 300’ long tunnel. When we turned off our flashlights at one point, we saw absolutely nothing, no hand in front of the face ... just blackness.  At that point, we turned on the lights and got topside real quick. 😵


Nice, smooth volcanic path through pahoehoe and clinkery pieces called a'a.


Jimmy, above, stepped out of Tergel, which is parked at the edge of a drop-off. 
We had to watch our step the entire time we were at Craters of the Moon.

For two semi-claustrophobic people, we patted ourselves on the back for, a) being willing to go below, and b) actually following through! After the fact, this was an exciting morning!  Cool place to visit.

* Pahoehoe is basaltic lava forming smooth undulating or ropy masses.