Ghostly grandeur Road Trip: Bodie State Historic Park
Take a day trip back in time – visit Bodie State Historic Park, and finish the day off by munching on really good Texas barbecue in the hamlet of Walker en route home.
The dramatic, high-desert ghost town of Bodie lies at 8,000 feet and it’s an easy run from Truckee south along the delightful Highway 395.
As you explore Bodie, the ghosts of history sets the imagination gears into overdrive.
The popular saying in the days of yore, “Goodbye God, I’m going to Bodie,” has a ring of truth to it, especially considering the town’s founder froze to death during the first winter.
However, it wasn’t just the weather that did the good townsfolk in.
Back in the late 1800s, “bawdy” probably described Bodie rather well.
The raucous gold-mining town of approximately 10,000 featured three breweries, about 60 saloons, any number of dance halls, brothels lined Bonanza Street and opium dens did a roaring trade.
Many of the mining towns scattered throughout Nevada and California lay claim to being the roughest, wildest or raunchiest in the hey-days of the mining boom, but Bodie seems to be a serious contender for the title.
Legend has it every day started with a gun fight on Main Street.
As with many of the mining boom towns, Bodie went bust pretty quickly.
The town suffered more ignominious trouble when it was ravaged by fire and much of the town burnt down but a number of buildings remained standing.
Now California maintains the town buildings in a state of arrested decay. It’s an example of the town time stood still in. For instance, the mortician’s office still has coffins piled up inside.
Bodie was declared a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park in 1962.
After exploring the eerily mystical, but well-preserved, remains of Bodie, head back north about 40-odd miles to Walker.
The sleepy little town of Walker means barbecue big-time.
Mountain View BBQ can’t be missed: just look for the big smoker out front on Highway 395 and follow your nose.
In 1994 Jeff and Michelle Hinds had successful careers in Houston. Jeff was a commercial photographer and Michelle, an accountant.
It all changed that year when the Hinds visited the Nevada/California border area and fell in love with it.
By April the next year they’d opened their new venture, and wondered what on earth they were doing.
What they did do was build up the greatest little Texas barbecue spot in California.
It’s all good and their secret sauce will have your taste buds doing a tap dance.
History and good food combined make a memorable day out, in a easy weekend road-trip anyone in Truckee can make.
How to get there:
Take Hwy. 395 to about seven miles south of Bridgeport, turn left on to Route 270. The first 10 miles to Bodie are paved with the last three unpaved. The park is open all year but winter conditions require some planning. At present the park is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., as winter sets in the park closes at 4 p.m.
Entrance fee is $1 per person, children under six and dogs go in free. Dogs must be leashed.
Rangers do live there year-round, be careful not to enter their homes. For information, call (760) 647-6445.
Mountain View BBQ is located at 106834 Hwy. 395, Walker, CA 96107. Tel: (530) 495-2731.
At present they’re operating under their fall hours of Wednesday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., except Saturday they’re open to 9 p.m.
For information, call (530) 495-2107.
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