After Manzanar we went further north along the 395 until we reached the town of Independence. There was no need to look up the address of our motel, because it was easily located along the roughly 4 block stretch that made up the entire city.
Ray's Den Motel inexpensive, no frills but clean little place run by a laid back Den Mother named Linda. She gave us our keys and told us with a hint of a smile about "Mule Days", coming up this weekend. The Mule is an important animal in the area.
Tech Support was still exhausted from his long week, so we lolled around our room and watched a man across the street do something in his yard. He was every kind of small town stereotype of an old man, stooped over and fussing around his packed dirt yard with his dog in a very focused way. When we walked by the place later we couldn't figure out what he'd been up to.
Considering the size of the town I wasn't too optimistic about dinner. But when I went online I discovered that there was actually a French Bistro in town, across the street from a Subway (there are Subways EVERYWHERE).
The Still Life Cafe is a legend in the area. The place is run by a husband-wife team and boasts long wait times and irregular hours. However, reviews said the food was supposed to be wonderful.
After a few bewildering calls between Tech Support and the husband, where we tried to determine if they would be open tonight and the husband wasn't quite sure because his wife wasn't home yet, we wandered over around 7pm. Luckily for us the wife had arrived.
Tech Support and I relaxed and enjoyed the wait, prepared by the reviews and aware that the wife was the only one in the kitchen.
I had the best Brie Burger I had ever had. It was so, so, so good. Worth the wait, and it wasn't like there was much else we had to be doing anyway.
Now over two hours later, it was dark outside. We made our way carefully to the motel since there weren't too many street lights and the sidewalk came and went. Full of delicious French Food and delighted with such a unique experience, we went to bed.
Breakfast at the motel was simpler. Cereal, milk, muffins and yogurt were laid out in the tiny office for us. Since the motel was half the cost of our B&B in Kernville, and also cheaper than our dinner, this was very fair. We packed up and headed out of town, bound for Bodie.
We passed the Mammoth area without stopping with some regrets, but I wanted to be sure to have enough time in the Ghost Town that had inspired this entire trip. We did take a little time to check out Mono lake.
Swallows flittered all around the exterior of the Information Center, and had made their nests in the eaves of the building. Inside we learned about local wildlife and history. Mono Lake is another one Los Angeles attempted to drain as recently as the 80s. I considered telling anyone who asked that I was Canadian. Luckily the issue never came up.
Another place I will have to return and explore more.
We pressed on, turning off the 395 and onto a road that appeared to go on forever.
We turned off that road, and started up a pitted and rough asphalt road that promised to lead us to Bodie. The road was a shakey mess, but it was lined with pretty purple wildflowers.
After a bit the road ended.
And a little while after that we saw the town.
Bodie met every expectation and then some. When we got there it was hot and bright. The light was just perfect for my funky hand-me-down camera to take absolutely gorgeous photos with little effort on our parts.
Going up to windows and peeking in we found deliciously Silent-Hill like deteriorated interiors.
As the day went on the skies turned dark and ominous and wind whipped over the grass and into my hair. There was even thunder and lightning in the the distance. A perfect taste of how miserable it must have been to live here.
Why is this house covered in fabric?
Forget Tombstone, it's all about Bodie.
We explored as much of the abandoned city as we could before dehydration (and maybe a little altitude sickness) got to us. We'd done our best to keep hydrated, but we're just too used to being sea level and weren't doing too well at 8000 feet.
Despite that, I couldn't be more pleased by Bodie. I'd love to go back sometime, maybe when we explore Mammoth and Mono lake.