Visiting a California Ghost Town

Before summer’s end, I finally got to visit the Bodie ghost town, known officially as Bodie State Historic Park. Today, only about 5% of the buildings remain from the town’s 1877-1881 heyday, most having fallen victim to time, fire, and the elements. Designated a California state park in 1962, it is now preserved in a state of “arrested decay.” This means that buildings’ roofs, windows and foundations are repaired and stabilized, not restored.

It was smooth sailing on pavement most of the way there, but the last several miles or so were on dirt.

Following the 1849 Gold Rush, mining declined along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Prospectors, ever hungry for the next big strike, crossed the Sierra Nevada to prospect the eastern slopes.

Methodist Church. This church, built in 1882, is Bodie’s only church still standing. A Catholic church, also built in 1882, burned in 1928. E.J. Clinton, head of a mining company at Bodie in the late 1920’s, restored the church with his own funds and often preached sermons. An oilcloth with the Ten Commandments, which once hung behind the pulpit, was stolen (Thou Shalt Not Steal”).

W.S. Bodey, from Poughkeepsie, New York, discovered gold here in 1859. He died months later in a blizzard, never seeing the town that honors him. Bodey’s bones were re-discovered in 1879 and then “misplaced” after burial. His final resting place is now thought to be somewhere on the hill above the cemetery, which I skipped, but could see from the dirt road leading to the parking lot. The town‘s name came to be spelled “Bodie.”

D.V. Cain House. Built in 1873, this was home to David Victor Cain, son of James S. Cain. The Cains sold Bodie to California State Parks in 1962. In 1904, D.V. Cain married Ella M. Cody, a Bodie schoolteacher who later founded the Bodie Museum.

Mining in the district progressed at a slow pace until 1875, when a mine collapse revealed a rich body of gold ore. Word spread fast, and Bodie’s boomtown days began. While period accounts estimated Bodie’s population as high as 8,000 and later writers claimed 10,000, census records do not reflect these high numbers. Bodie’s peak population probably ranged from 7,000 to 8,000.

Inside the morgue.

During 1877 – 1881, Bodie’s mining district included 30 different mines and nine stamp mills. Along with miners and merchants, Bodie attracted a rougher element, who gave the town a reputation for bad men and wild times. There were more than 60 saloons, many near Bonanza Street prostitutes’ “cribs” and opium dens in Chinatown. The boom years were over quickly as unsuccessful mines began closing. The population dropped quickly and continued to dwindle into the 1900s. Mining continued until 1942.

Remnants of a home.
View from the hill at the end of Green Street.
The Standard Mill.

The family of Bodie’s last major landowner, James S. Cain, hired caretakers to watch over the town and protect it from looters and vandals. In 1962, California State Parks purchased the town to preserve the historic buildings and artifacts.

Looking across town.

I enjoyed my visit to Bodie.

Women's pants banners for Fall 2022

Arts, Crafts and Luru

On the last day of our Amazon jungle river cruise, we visited an indigenous community where they made arts and crafts for us to see how they were made. Many of these arts and crafts were available for purchase afterwards and we also saw them in the stores that we visited in the Amazon. It was so nice to see how those beautiful items were skillfully crafted and put on display. We also had the pleasure of meeting the parrot, Luru, who provided us with lots of great entertainment.

I want to give a special shout out to my friends Eduardo and Leigh of 1000 Treks for putting this trip together. I met Eduardo about 10 years ago in his hiking group and then began training with him in his fitness Boot Camp so that I could prepare to climb Kilimanjaro with his group. I ended up having to cancel on Kilimanjaro due to an injury, but I stayed in touch with Eduardo and went on some other adventures with his group over the years. I had always wanted to go on one of his trips abroad and was so happy I got this experience.

Jungle Cruise – The Indian Village

On the second day of the Amazon jungle cruise, we went to visit an Indian village. Because their small dock couldn’t accommodate our large boat, we were shuttled to the community in a smaller boat in groups of 10 at a time. Once we arrived at the village, we were welcomed and treated to a ritual of music and dance.

Afterwards, we got to play with some of their pets, like a sweet little furry sloth. I had always wanted to meet a sloth. Those creatures are so huggable and lovable. They just latch onto you and make you feel all warm and fuzzy. We also had the opportunity to try some roasted termites, which I passed on, but the Brazilian nuts were great!

South America – Off to the Amazon

Well, hello. I’m back. It’s been a while, but I’m here again and will be posting more consistently because I have so much to share. I’ve been quite busy over the last year and have done quite a bit of traveling. I spent most of July in Brazil, my first ever trip to South America, and it was the adventure of a lifetime.

I realized I haven’t done anything with the more than 200 videos I recorded on that trip. I’ve posted a few short ones on other channels, but that was it. My intention of recording these videos was to put together a full documentary of the adventure, making it into a series. So here it is, the first episode, and the beginning of my adventures in the Amazon jungle, starting with a three-day jungle river cruise.