The weekend after Labor Day is the first weekend of the riding season in my book, and what do I do? Sleep in. Finally on the road by 8am I'm still not sure where exactly I want to ride, I just know I want to ride. I'd been considering the northern coast but with the type of weather I love forecast for the Sierras I started heading East. 20 minutes into my ride it was decision time as I reached a split in the highways, the bike almost turned for me so I knew it must be the right thing to head towards Bodie one of my potential destinations.
I've been to Bodie, or should I say through it at least a dozen times, but usually on my way to dualsporting in Nevada. It's been a good twenty years since I've got off the bike and walked around the ghost town. The few snapshots I have of the place are are really just silly, so it's time to go try and capture the feeling of 100 years ago.
Isn't it a great problem that the most tedious part of my ride will be crossing the Sierras through Yosemite? While people come from all over the world to spend time here, I just have to try and keep my sanity with the ridiculously low speed limits as I'm just passing through. Getting in the park at 10 am I have all of TWO cars in front of me, see what I mean about the riding season? A few weeks ago there might be a half hour wait to get through the backup at the gate at this time on a Saturday morning. Running Tioga Pass was a breeze with only a couple of RVs to get around and the people in a Prius that think it's "just prudent" to do 38 in a 45 zone.
Something just seems morally wrong about passing through Yosemite with a bunch of photography equipment and not taking a single photo, but I was trying to make up for the late start. However heading down the east side where the sierras meet the desert I saw a scene in my mirror that I just couldn't pass up, so a quick stab of the brakes and I was on the side of the road. As I pull out my camera I get to enjoy the sneers of all the RV drivers going by that probably wonder why I would stop here after being in such a hurry to pass them earlier
I think it was worth it:
Soon with the Sierras behind me I'm in the high desert. Man I love this stuff. With rain in the distance the skies are shaping up for a dramatic afternoon, why does this feel so right? After the turn off from the highway Bodie is about 13 miles, the last 3 of that being dirt. Now the dirt section is designed to work for passenger cars, so it's not off roading by any means but wow does it have some crazy washboard from all of the traffic. Speaking of traffic the few cars that are out here tend to be taking it pretty easy and the last speed limit sign I saw said 55, so I assume that is good for the dirt to .Something a little rebellious about getting sideways while passing, but that's why we ride adventure bikes, right? Besides the kids in the back seat where waving and giving me a thumbs up, it was my DUTY to give em a little something for a show.
In case you've never been to Bodie (or heard about it) it's a ghost town from the 1800s that has been turned into a state park in a "preserved state of decay" They did a heck of a job of not screwing it up by turning it into a Disneyland version a ghost town, but instead left it pretty much alone while protecting the artifacts from being stolen by desert rats. I'm not about to try and give a history lesson here, you can google and find the fascinating history yourself, and you should. I just love stepping into the past like this.
I'll let the pictures do more of the talking here.
One of the more iconic scenes. Couldn't help but think......
"Next thing you know he'd be wanting a big church and fancy clothes.....that's why it wouldn't work"
Preacher -Pale Rider
I'm not the only one out there with a camera, I spied this character that seemed he may have actually been in Bodie taking photos back then. I approached him to discuss his camera and had the most interesting conversation. Seems his job is a cinematographer and he does photos on the side. he proceeded to show me why his camera was better than all of the new digital stuff. Really an enjoyable moment on the road that I won't forget.
I googled him when I got home and I'll bet there was at least something on his resume that you would be familiar with.
These valves probably haven't been adjusted in almost 100 years, but it's good to know the specs are right there. Must've been real men back then, the clearances are for a HOT motor...ouch!
This was the most interesting find. What appears to be a steam motor, with a boiler just out of view, used to lower and raise the man lifts in the back ground. Foundry dates were in the 1880s.
Evidently ghosts don't photograph well, thankfully awesome skies and worn down buildings do
I bet Clint Eastwood would take a dump here.
After feeling like a cowboy for almost 4 hours it was time to head home. I decided to take the northern route over Masonic Road and Aurora Canyon, a fair amount more remote than the civilized entrance was just what I needed. Mostly smooth dirt It's really easy to slide a big bike and play, but I never feel a need to hurry through scenery like this.
One last shot for the day, this is only a few miles outside of Bridgeport in Aurora Canyon. I thought this would make an awesome scene if the Sun poked through on the foreground, with plenty of clouds in the Sierras I decided it was time for a meal to wait for a ray of sun and just enjoy the moment. Food, drink and a cigar but the sun never cooperated. That's o.k. it's not like it sucked being there. So I enjoyed the solitude just a little longer before taking this shot, and then in true cowboy fashion I rode off into the sunset. ( I swear I could hear a slow tune on an acoustic guitar)