In April 2011 my ol' Bristol chum Ash Boddy and I attempted to get to Bodie-an old ghost-town from the gold rush era near Yosemite. However the winter had been particularly harsh and the mountain pass was still snow-bound!
So Ash returned to visit California this summer and we made a second successful trip into the mountains.
From San Francisco it's a 5 hour drive to Bodie so we covered that the first day and stayed overnight in Bridgeport so we could have a full day to draw. Our B&B was where Robert Mitchum stayed while filming 'Out of the Past' in 1947.
Early next morn we set off up the dirt track towards Bodie- once the most thriving and lawless mining town in the West.
Reputedly the most well-preserved ghost-town Bodie is a fraction of the size it became in its heyday due to a devastating fire in the early part of the last century. But the buildings and artifacts that remain are fascinatingly suspended in a state of 'arrested decay'.
Peering through windows is like looking into the past; a poker table abandoned seemingly mid-game; a school class-room eerily still fully equipped; the gym, saloon bar, grocery -store all frozen in time.
The wooden buildings look ready to collapse at any moment; their wind-blasted and sun-scorched walls warped and twisted. No straight lines or right angles- heaven to draw!
If memory serves the shack above was to store ice!
Some of the buildings looked like they were saved from collapse just in time. The fire-house below is one of the more sturdy constructions.
The old saw-mill is still standing . . . just.
At a 10,000 ft elevation the site is that much closer to the sun and drawing in the baking heat was a trial, even breathing was more of a struggle at that altitude. However it was still a pleasure to try and capture as many of the warped buildings and out-houses as we could.
Life was hard living in Bodie-even going to the toilet would've been arduous, braving the elements not to mention the prospect of encountering rattlesnakes.
Read Ash's alternative account with a whole load o' untruths he just plain made up right here!