Bodie & Mono Lake have been on my radar for pretty much ever. A few times in my early years of map questing things, I’d make a half hearted attempt to map out a road trip to see it. The route would tell me it was several hours through foreign and winding terrain, of which I never had a friend who was up for the adventure and I’d put it in the back of my mind of things to do… alongside the task of finding more adventurous friends.
Then Blake began his career with the state and on his list of potential places to work… Bodie showed up again. And then one of his good friends went to work there, and we were tantalized with the idea of staying on the premise and getting personalized tours, so this definitely peaked my interest. So much so that, it made #2 on my bucket list for 2014 (visit Bodie & Mono Lake).
Enter 2017. Blake & I were eager to keep our 3 wild ones entertained and at the same time feed our urge to explore. Seeing as we had so much great luck driving to Minnesota and then Texas…. Bodie & Mono Lake seems like pie. Side note: Mono Lake was a sort of after thought, one I didn’t consider until exploring things to do for my list and saw all this amazing landscape photography of these other-worldly stalagmites rising up out of glass-like calm waters. Wow! Another planet, right here in California!…..Back to that in a minute.
So, off to Bodie we went. The drive is beautiful, and doesn’t seem like it’s in California. The towns are quaint, the weather was nice. We stayed at a really fun gold-rush-era themed Motel that was right near by and along a rushing river. Everyone had their own cabins, though for a different rate you can sleep in a Covered Wagon and use an outhouse. Charming!
Bodie itself is a mind trip. A winding gravel road off the highway for several miles before peaking & coming down the hill to see a full Ghost Town in every sense of the word. The silence is strange, especially with how many people are touring as well. No echos, as if the weight of the air is suffocating it all.
After touring Bodie (definitely an hour or more needed if you don’t do the group tour) we drove on up the highway to Mono Lake. Mono Lake, in our opinion, was a bust. First, the surrounding land looked dried out, pasty and barren. This was not a lake to picnic at- which we knew- nor is it a lake you even walk the dog around. It’s like God spilled water on concrete and then never bothered to clean it up. The Monstrous and colorful Stalagmites that jut from the water according to Photo-Magicians are actually no taller than the average person and are even more pasty and drab. I suppose on a good day with a glowing cloudy sunset one can have a different perspective, but we sure weren’t going to wait around for that. The lake itself has a pH level that is toxic so no one is fishing.
Essentially, this place is by no means an attraction, a destination, or a resource. But the restaurant we ate at was amazing and all the nearby hotels looked cute & clean. It’s a layover town for people looking to get to Yosemite, we learned.
Overall, seeing the Eastern side of the Sierras, and a whole new side of California was absolutely worth the drive. Bodie & Mono lake together are a great overnight destination get away and while I’m not in a hurry to go back… I would like to travel that road again.