This year instead of a traditional vacation (leaving home for an extended period of time), we decided to enjoy a Staycation. A Staycation let us explore things nearby while sleeping in our own beds most nights. We had no real plans. And that added to the adventure.
Our first day trip was to Monterey for the Scottish Games and Celtic Festival. What fun! There were the competitions, the English Courts and the friendly people. It was our first time at the annual games in Monterey. We might just go back next year.
Naturally, a trip to Monterey had to include some beach time in nearby Seaside. It was Kiddo’s birthday and his one wish was to talk along the ocean shore. Naturally, we needed to give him that. There is something peaceful about walking on the beach even if it’s loud and crowded. Just tune out the noise until all you can hear are the waves and the cries of seagulls.
Even a Staycation needed to include a short overnight road trip. We decided to visit Bodie and Mono Lake. Although we live only a a couple of hours away, we’ve never explored the Sonora Pass over the mountains. The views were amazing – pictures really don’t do the pass justice. Even in mid-July there was snow on the upper peaks. No wonder the Sonora Pass is closed most of the year.
Our home away from home base was the small town of Bridgeport. It’s on the east side of Yosemite. With the travel restrictions during the pandemic, the fires that have further restricted travel, and now the high cost of gas, communities like Bridgeport are barely hanging on. Yet Bridgeport has its charm that should be appreciated.
Not far from Bridgeport is Mono Lake. This is an eerie place to visit. The lake was formed at least 760,000 years ago. Because there is no outlet, the high levels of salts accumulated in and around the lake. There are even brine shrimp that call Mono Lake home. The strange formations around Mono Lake would have been formed naturally, as the water slowly evaporated. But in 1941 Los Angeles began diverting water from Mono Lake to meet their grown needs for water. This sped up the process, creating the strange landscape of today.
The real reason for our overnight stay in Bridgeport was to spend time in the ghost town of Bodie. There is no shade in Bodie. It’s hot and dry, so the best time to visit is early in the morning. Bodie is a 5 hour drive from home. Staying nearby made sense. And you really need to want to visit Bodie because getting there requires effort. The best route involves 10 miles on a winding paved road, and another 3 miles on a rough gravel road.
But the moment Bodie comes into view, you realize the trip was worth it.
Bodie was booming in 1876 with the discovery of a large line of gold. Within 3 years the population reached 10,000 people. As a bustling gold mine center, Bodie had all the amenities of a large town. There was a Wells Fargo Bank, four volunteer fire companies, a brass band that played in the town square and several daily newspapers. At its peak, 65 saloons lined Main Street. But by 1915, the boom was coming to an end.
California established Bodie as a Historical Park in 1962 with plans to leave the town in a natural state of decay. With only about 110 structures still standing, only a small part of the town remains. Realizing the need to preserve what is there, Bodie is no longer in a state of natural decay. California Park Services maintains Bodie in a state of arrested decay, making repairs as needed to preserve what remains.
Sage brush covers so much of Bodie. It’s everywhere. The culinary side of me became curious about the sage. So I plucked some leaves, rubbing it between my fingers. Oh my word – the smell of fresh lemons was amazing. How I wish I could have taken some sage home with me.
But if we each took what struck our fancy from places like Bodie, there would be nothing left for future generations to see. It’s important to preserve our history and to stand in awe of those rugged people who ventured out into the unknown.
Not wanting to repeat the same route for the drive home, we chose another point over the Sierra Mountains through Ebbetts Pass. The highway began fine, but became was so narrow, you would think two cars could not pass each other in opposite directions. As scary as that was, the views were amazing. And the small Alpine lakes were beautiful. What a wonderful Staycation. It’s incredible to discover what wonders await in our own backyards.
Hope everyone has enjoyed happy and safe travels. God bless us all.