The Billetts in the Old West

Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
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Trip End Oct 06, 2009


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Where I stayed
Mono Vista RV Park

Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

After waking up in the coldest place ever, and this place was freezing! We packed up and heading into Lee Vining to warm up and have another hearty American breakfast before heading to a town called ghost town called Bodie (clip 1 - clip 2), it was about a 45 minute drive from Lee Vining (where we had stayed in the Mobil gas station). The road to Bodie wasn't paved for the last 3 miles and that alone was a bit of an adventure. A 31 foot RV driving down a very bumpy, dusty windy track, the RV was rattling and shaking and anything that wasn't fixed down or in a cupboard ended up on the floor. As Kathryn was driving I recorded a short clip out of the back window of the RV as we drove down the track, you can see it here. It was all worth it though, when we finally reached Bodie it was almost unbelievable, that such a large part of this old gold mining town (born during the gold rush) had survived for so long. Considering the buildings are all wooden and winters in Bodie are incredibly harsh with snow 10ft deep and 100 mile an hour winds, survival was tough if you lived in Bodie. About 5% of the town still stands today, the town at it's maximum had a population of 10,000. The town looked like it could have been used in Back to the Future III, I kept seeing Marty, Doc and Mad Dog go about their business.

Many of the buildings still have furniture, food boxes and drinking bottles left inside of them which makes peering through the windows very interesting. It it only possible to go into one of the buildings and it felt quite eerie seeing the house deserted with all the belongings left, Bodie, unlike some ghost towns was abandoned for other reasons and not through disease and death. Outside many of the buildings you will see cars, machinery, cans and all kinds of things scattered around. We thought some of this may have been staged for the tourists so we asked one of the rangers and apparently everything was found with the town, some pieces may have been moved but only for the rangers to keep an eye on them to prevent them from going missing.

Movie clips:

Out of the darkness
The jail and the blacksmiths
The bank vault 
The carpenter's house
The hotel and bar

This leads me to another very eerie part of the visit. In the town museum is a book containing photos of Bodie including when the town can be hardly seen or reached after a snow storm. The book also contains letters from visitors to the town, the oldest I could find was from the 80s. These letters mostly share a theme, they are letters apologising for taking items from Bodie whether it be a rock or a nail or something larger and are being returned to Bodie, nails had been returned from as far away as France. The reason for the item being returned was that the household who had taken the item was suffering from so much bad luck. One letter that I read a couple of times was very creepy. It was from a lady returning rocks that her son had taken from Bodie cemetery, the family had been experiencing a run of very bad luck after they returning home and only linked the rocks to their bad luck when the son told his mum what had happened in the cemetery. The boy had put a couple or rocks in his pocket while in the cemetery and as he was walking away there was a tugging as his pocket containing the rocks, this happened a few times, the boy then saw a young girl standing next to him. Was it the girl pulling his pocket indicating the boy should leave the rocks? After reading this I made sure I had no stones stuck in my shoes before we left!!

We're off to the moon tomorrow.

J&K
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