FIRST STOP: LONE PINE AND CERRO GORDO
As the saying goes: Where the hill is Cerro Gordo???
Known as one of California’s “most authentic ghost towns,” Cerro Gordo is perched on a saddle in the Inyo Mountains, a short ride from the Eastern Sierra town of Lone Pine. The 7.5 mile dirt road is usually maintained and it alone is an adventure. Across the Owens dry lake bed the Sierra Nevadas loom.
The mountain goats posing above are our grandchildren. Our assignment: Take them camping for 2 weeks and be sure they learn something. The Owens Valley lies below. The dry lakebed is, by court order, the subject of a renovation program by the DWP. After several years little has happened and it seems all they do is move sediment around.
In 1871 alone, 2,500 tons of silver bullion from the mines of Cerro Gordo were taken to Los Angeles by the famous freighter Remi Nadeau down this windy road. When the “bullion wagons” would descend the grade, the massive wheels on the wagons were chained together to prevent them from rotating, iron “shoes” were then attached to the wheels to prevent wear, and the wagon would then slide down the road with several spans of mules tied behind to hold the wagon back.
Finally reaching the town, we were glad to see it was in such good shape. We were greeted by the caretaker who took us on a tour. We learned alot about the rise and fall of this town and its silver mining history.
On our tour we spent time in the assay office/mercantile, the Belshaw House and the American Hotel. Some years ago we spent a weekend in this town, bedded down in the bunk house. Overnight arrangements may still be made. Sadly the previous owners are both deceased, vibrant young people struck down by cancer. We thought alot about them on our visit
The Belshaw House
Bedroom in the Belshaw house.
The American Hotel (below) has been the site of many a rowdy party. The amenities suggest a leisurely life, but such is not the case. Intermittent electricity, a shortage of water and severe weather make life on this perch a challenge.
The American Hotel was once the scene of many a wild party. It is rumored they still occur.
Life in Cerro Gordo is a challenge. But there is plenty to do.
You gotta know when to hold ’em.
Making good on our promise to teach them something.
NEXT STOP IS A TREK BACK IN TIME: BODIE STATE PARK
One of the most-visited of the California State Parks, Bodie needs no introduction. The photos tell it all so Alan was snapping like a crazy man. Here are a few:
HEADED FOR WHITNEY PORTALS WE ALWAYS PAY A VISIT TO THE ROCK MONSTER!
ONCE AT THE PORTALS, FISHING IS THE FOCUS
WE LIMITED OUT OUR FIRST DAY. GOOD THING TOO CUZ I WAS ASSIGNED TO MAKING TROUT CAKES FOR HAPPY HOUR AT CAMP.
KIRRA, 3, FISHES WITH HER PINK ‘DORA’ PLASTIC FISHING POLE.
OMG SHE CATCHES A FISH. MOM HELPS REEL IT IN, DAD GRABS THE FLAPPING BUGGER AND KIRRA SCREAMS
KIRRA POSES WITH HER CATCH. WE CLEANED IT AND COOKED IT BUT SHE REFUSED TO EAT IT!
(Above) Senad cleans his catch at the McGee Creek fishcleaning station.
HAILEY EMERGES FROM THE TRAILER TO SERVE THE TROUT CAKES. THEY WERE A BIG HIT.
AT NIGHT WE SAT AROUND THE FIRE AND TOLD STORIES.
JUST YARDS FROM THE CAMPGROUND IS A LITTLE BARNYARD FOR THE KIDS TO VISIT
ONE OF OUR FAVORITE FISHING SPOTS IS BENTON CROSSING. WE HAVE PRETTY GOOD LUCK, BUT EVEN IF WE GOT NO BITES, THE VIEW IS SPECTACULAR AND OFTEN WHITE PELICANS LAND ON THE MEADOWS ALONG THE RIVER.
THE BEST FOOD IN THE SIERRAS IS AT THE MOBIL STATION JUST SOUTH OF LEE VINING. THERE WE HAD LUNCH, SPENT A NIGHT AT THE MONO VISTA CAMPGROUND AND VISITED MONO LAKE. IT HAS AN EERIE KIND OF BEAUTY AND IS AN IMPORTANT STOP FOR MIGRATING BIRDS. PLAGUED WITH LEGAL BATTLES, IT SEEMS TO BE HOLDING ITS OWN. IT’S UP TO US TO SHORTEN OUR SHOWERS SO WE DON’T HAVE TO STEAL SO MUCH WATER FROM THIS AREA.
JOE IS INTENT ON CAPTURING A BRINE SHRIIMP
THESE FLIES MAY LOOK GROSS TO US BUT TO THE BIRDS THEY LOOK LIKE A MEAL
WE ENJOYED ANOTHER MINING TOWN WITH A VISIT TO VIRGINIA CITY:
THIS BUSY TOURIST TOWN IS ABOUT THE OPPOSITE OF BODIE. BUT THERE IS HISTORY IN THIS HOME OF THE COMSTOCK LOAD:
AFTER A GOLD PANNING LESSON, THE KIDS TOOK HOME VIALS WITH SPECKS OF GOLD
UPPER TWIN LAKE! THIS WAS OUR FAVORITE CAMPSITE. LOOK WHO ELSE LIKED IT:
AND ANOTHER VISITOR:
AS JOE SAID AS HE SPOTTED OUR FRIEND: “HOLY MOLY, IT’S A BEAR!
WE ENJOYED A PADDLEWHEELER RIDE ON LAKE TAHOE:
THE HIGHLIGHT OF OUR TRIP WAS THE FOURTH OF JULY. ROBBY SNAGGED A GREAT CAMPSITE ABOVE LAKE CROWLEY. EVEN THE KIDS WERE IN A PARTY MOOD. WHEN AT LAST DARKNESS FELL, THE FIREWORKS SHOW OVER THE LAKE WAS AMAZING. WHEN IT WAS OVER, THE FULLEST OF MOONS LIT UP THE SKY.
AFTER 3 WEEKS IN THE SIERRAS WE HEADED HOME…RELUCTANTLY. WE’LL GO BACK IN THE FALL WHEN THE WEATHER IS COOLER AND THE TREES HAVE TURNED RED AND GOLD.