After our day of quaffing wines in Napa we travelled further east towards the Nevada/California border, and just inside the California border is a true bona fide ghost town named Bodie.
Bodie was one of the many American towns that seemingly popped up overnight in the middle of nowhere during the great gold rushes of the 19th century. At the peak of the gold rush the town totalled nearly 10,000 residents, however this number would steadily decline until the last resident left the town in the 1950’s. After being declared a national historic landmark in 1961 there are around 110 of the original buildings (roughly 5%) still standing in various states. With most falling victim to time, fire and the elements, it is now preserved in a state of “arrested decay”. This means that building’s roofs, windows and foundations are repaired and stabilised, not restored.To enter Bodie State Historic Park, our family of four paid $26 USD/$37.72 NZD for the privilege to walk the grounds and explore the township. This included a self guided tour which was really well done and interesting, and marks points of interest such as the post office, fire station and saloons; as well as where gun fights and even the odd hanging took place.I’m so glad we chose to visit Bodie, as walking the dusty roads with even the odd tumbleweed rolling past was as close to visiting 1800’s America as anyone is ever likely to get. Also despite being very much a ‘point and shoot’ photographer there are endless photo opportunities to make even me look half decent. I’m not sure how many photographs I took as just as I would put the camera away, Paula or I would see something else that we just had to take a photo of. After spending five hours travelling in the car just to get to Bodie we were a little concerned about the boys attitude and the dreaded “I’m bored” or “can we go now” words to come out. But both Lincoln and Braxton really enjoyed the time we spent exploring the town and even role-played their own 10 paces quick-draw gun fight.We managed about three hours walking the streets and imagining what living in the town during its peak would have been like, before calling it a day and heading towards our very homely accommodation for the night at Virginia Creek Settlement (read our review here). Here every cabin had its own fire pit so I managed to pick up some marshmallows and as the sun went down on another long, but incredible day’s experience, we toasted them around the fire next to the creek.
The next day we were quickly back in the car for the 400 kms (250 miles) west towards San Francisco. On our way to San Fran we decided to venture into Yosemite National Park and explore some of the 3,000 km2 national park. We entered the park at its eastern most entrance near Lee Vining and after paying our $35 USD/$50.84 NZD entrance fee we started our slow drive through the park. This national park is absolutely incredible, we found it hard not to stop every five minutes to take photographs of the sprawling landscape with large mountains, winding rivers and lakes appearing and disappearing from view around each and every corner. However, knowing we had a good three-hour drive upon exiting Yosemite on the western edge, we had to manage our time efficiently. Often this meant I would park up the car on the shoulder of the road and quickly jump out and take a photograph while everyone waited in the car.One of the main attractions within the park is the iconic Half Dome, this large rocky outcrop is seen from many different view points within the park itself and we managed to view it from most of its sides as we climbed and turned the roads throughout Yosemite. The Tunnel View, another well-known site, offers expansive views of Yosemite Valley, including Half Dome, El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall.We had packed a picnic lunch for the day so we stopped within Yosemite Valley and enjoyed our sandwiches next to one of the flowing rivers along the valley floor. Lincoln even managed to navigate himself to a rock in the middle of the river, which he decided was as good a place as any, to sit down and enjoy his sandwiches. Both Paula and I were sure that Lincoln would fall into the water as he has one of those habits (similar to me when I was his age) of falling over himself. But he surprised us and emerged back to dry land without a drop of water on him.Although Yosemite was one of the first national parks in America that we visited, I can tell you after now visiting a handful of them, they are managed and looked after incredibly well. Each park we have visited has not disappointed and although we feel there should be a single day pass available to purchase, rather than the compulsory seven day one, they are well worth the visit, even if for just a couple of hours. After a little more of taking in the natural wonder that is Yosemite, we exited the park and headed towards our first major city of America, arguably the cultural capital of the USA, “The Golden City” of San Francisco.
Average Daily Spend for 2 nights – $259.75 NZD ($27.75 under budget per day)