Monday, April 23, 2012

The Bodie Hills - April 2012

Hangin’ With the Celebs

The exclusive scoop-

Ted's email read, "We're going camping this weekend. What are your plans?"
Wow, could this be true? Fresh from their triumphant feature article Boondocking the American West  and we get an email............................

The Teds are a great couple. They love the outdoors and have put together a lifestyle that allows them to get away with their truck and camper often to pull away from busy lives and take a deep breath and go look for a road to take them somewhere new.

We have enjoyed our opportunities to meet up with the Teds, so when that email showed up we were excited. Plus we’d get to hang out with real celebrities. Pretty cool!

We tied in with them at the small Mono County Park in Walker early Friday evening and quickly fell into conversation until one of the group pointed out we ought to find a camping spot before dark. Ted suggested a spot just off of Little Walker Road.

We made camp and settled in.

It is our habit to be up before sunrise. I wandered and took some photos as the Lady outfitted us with mugs of Peets coffee.

We returned to camp to find Ted up and about.

Ted wanted to walk and explore in the early morning and look for possible future boondocking sites. He is wise enough to know it takes serious on the ground intel on new places to satisfy his growing audience’s hunger for adventure. The Lady helped.

This was a great place to wake up on a Saturday morning.

We packed up and headed into Bridgeport. The Lady had a hankering for a Hays Street Café cinnamon roll.

When a fresh out of the oven cinnamon roll is involved, she is out of the truck, across the parking lot, and inside before I can stop the truck and kill the engine. There were birds overhead, so the Teds and I enjoyed getting out binoculars and doing some birding. There were American Pelicans, swallows, a Swainson Hawk, and California gulls – aka Dump Ducks.

There was a faint barely moving object high overhead. It was reflecting sunlight. It was not an airplane or a glider. Mrs. Ted and I were convinced it was a UFO. Ted set up their spotting scope and determined it was a weather balloon slowly returning to earth.

When the Lady returned with her treasure, Ted couldn’t stand it anymore and went inside. He needed a cinnamon roll too. The Lady joined in on the birding until we all complained of sore necks. We were also wondering what was taking Ted so long. We had noticed a couple of people run out of the café, grab their cameras from their cars, and return inside. Someone had recognized Ted.

After twenty minutes a much harried Ted stumbled out.
“Quick, get in the trucks! We have to get out of here!” Anxiety filled his face.
“My hand is killing me I signed so many autographs. My eyes are shot from all the camera flashes. I had to kiss a baby and I think the little cuss had just spit up.” He was wiping his face.
“I heard the owners calling the NBC affiliate in Reno. They had a crew in Gardnerville covering a story and they are going to divert to here!”
All the demands of his new found celebrity status were overwhelming. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!” His voice tailed off as he jumped in their truck.

Away from people was the only solution. My god we both had these recognizable pop up campers and the Lady and I realized we were also drawn up into this whirlwind of adoration. Ted did a couple of donuts in the dirt parking lot with spinning tires throwing up a cloud of dust to hide our departure. Ted can think on his feet. I followed his lead. We headed south on 395 and then a quick left on 182. I spotted Aurora Canyon Road; a dirt road. It looked like it headed into the Bodie Hills. This was like an Old West getaway. We knew this would be a fun trip!

We stopped at a high point and looked to see if we were followed. Our getaway had worked.

This wonderful vastness settled our nerves. Obsidian flakes littered the ground. We scattered out and searched for the source or any evidence of manmade items. We talked about where to go next.

We had intersected the Bodie Masonic Road. We headed south to Bodie. Just north of the final pass above Bodie we found the road blocked by snow. Ted and I thought we might be able to make it. Wiser counsel from the women folk kept us out of trouble. (Thanks to Mrs. Ted for the following photo.)

We turned around and headed north. We passed the Aurora Canyon Road intersection and continued along the crest of the Bodie Hills. We found a perfect place for lunch.

Ted said, “We are having so much fun. I only need one thing to make this feel a little more like a Wander the West rally.”

I got curious about WTF beer and found information here: Lagunitas Beer List
We continued north.

There was a ghost town ahead.

The Bodie Masonic Road intersects with Masonic Road. We turned right on Masonic Road, down Masonic Gulch. The ghost town of Masonic is marked with a plaque.

Ted has turned up information about this area- Masonic Mining District

Before reaching the intersection with Masonic Road the Bodie Masonic Road crosses the flanks of Masonic Mountain and descends into Masonic Gulch. As we were driving this section the Lady noticed a high spot off of a switch back. She said, “I’d like to see if we could camp there.”

There was a short spur off of the road up to the point.

We found it to our liking and settled in.
Ted said, “Boy if you got a picture of this from up there,” he pointed up to the road’s high spot, “That would be the ‘money shot’ for this camp spot.”

Ted knows best.

We were a bit surprised with the cloud build to our east. But, since the Lady and I were already up this high, we climbed higher to the top of New York Hill. From here we dropped cross country back down to camp, supper, and good company.

This was a spectacular evening. The panoramic view was incredible. Ted and the Lady went out to the point just behind our trucks.

Mrs. Ted joined us as the colors continued to change.

It was also grand to the west.

And also to the north.

After taking the last two photos, I returned to the group on the point. The clouds had built over the distant ranges to the east, their tops up into the sunlight.

As we were talking a lightning bolt flashed, surprising us into a spontaneous “Whoa!”

This continued as the skies darkened with the coming night. It was a wonderful show. There was no place any of us would have rather been then this remote high point with our personal show of nature’s beauty.

We watched and enjoyed until our voices were hoarse.

We had only seen one other vehicle this day in the Bodie Hills. As we turned in for the night, three vehicles descended past us on Masonic Road and continued down the gulch. We suspect these vehicles had to do with an incident the next morning.

It had been windy the evening before. At around midnight the wind died away and we slept like babies. At our previous camp along the Little Walker River the overnight low was 34°. It was 45° this morning at 5:30 when the Lady wiggled and stretched and said, “It’s getting light outside. It looks beautiful.”

The Lady likes me out of the way as she commences her morning fussing about the camper, coffee going, bedding stowed, face washing, dressing, getting’ up chores. I enjoyed long exposures in the predawn light with the camera and tripod.

The Lady soon joined me with our coffee mugs. We slowly walked up the road surrounded by the chorus of the birds starting their day, Pinyon Jays, Chickadees, Clarks Nutcrackers, and the rat-a-tat of woodpeckers. We looked back at camp.

About the time our coffee was gone, the sun rose over camp.

And, illuminated the surrounding peaks.

The Lady said, “You take pictures. I’m going to climb that peak. You can take my picture when I’m up there then we can go back and I’ll make us our second cup of coffee.”

It short order she was standing on top.

Soon we had rejoined the main road and returned to camp.

In our early morning absence, we had missed it completely. The Teds filled us in when we returned. Two young men, before daylight, had climbed up to a nearby rocky high point a few hundred yards away. They took position, removed their shirts, and shouted offensive comments over to “you dicks in the white trucks.”

They were quiet when the Lady & I returned. Ted handed me his binoculars. One young man was sitting in the sun, t-shirt off and wrapped around his head. The other was shirtless, laid back, prostate on a large flat rock.

With the quiet we enjoyed a leisurely morning and breakfast. We slowly packed up. Ted put a possible story together about the young men – they were part of the group with the three vehicles. They camped below in Masonic and partied all night, as daylight came, in a burst of bravado, had decided to climb to a high point to greet the day in a foul and uncalled for manner. Whatever had fueled their energy was now gone and they were left as sacrifices to the morning sun.

Before leaving I took a last look with the binoculars. Only one was visible, shirtless, belly down, sprawled over a summit rock, unmoving, passed out.  The sun was doing its work on white exposed skin.
“Yes, there is a god!” the Lady said as we climbed into our trucks.

We slowly drove to the west on Masonic Road. The vistas were incredible this morning.

We stopped at the Chemung Mine and took in the extensive ruins.

We contemplated the question – why, in the rural west, if something is assessable, why is it always all shot up?

We dropped down to Bridgeport Reservoir (again, thanks to Mrs. Ted for the photo).

We parted ways in Bridgeport and made our separate ways home. Our trucks were filthy with a well earned layer of road grime. For that, Ted said “Thanks!”

Each time the Lady and I are able to sit out at a remote campsite and enjoy the natural world around us; we always comment how lucky we are. This is doubly so when we are able to also share time with the Teds.


I have been disciplined, in a round about way.

Everyone should have a friend like Jim. Jim is a gentleman and Jim is a scholar. Jim earned a masters in English from Newcastle University. Jim is tough. Jim taught English in a small town middle school until his retirement. We have shared many adventures with Jim and his wife and it is habit that we get together and share stories and pictures from travels. So it is with both excitement and apprehension that I share one of these travel stories with Jim. I'm excited like a kid wondering if he'll like it. Will I get a good grade? It is with apprehension as I imagine a sea of red ink, corrections and remarks about my butchering of the laws of grammar.

After Jim read the story above, he asked about Ted. How did Ted get to be such a celebrity to draw such a reaction at the cafe and parking lot in Bridgeport? I was caught in my exaggeration, my creation of an event that, well, wasn't quite true. Jim had believed the story.

I like telling stories. I like being a story teller. You have heard the phase, "He never let the truth stand in the way of a good story." That thought doesn't sit well with me. It's too harsh. It's too close to telling a lie. In  Ruff Tales, a collection of country tales, is my favorite definition of a story teller, "A story teller always tells the truth, about something that never happened."

So I'm coming clean here. Ted never signed autographs. Ted didn't go blind from camera flashes. To my knowledge Ted did not kiss a baby and the TV news station was not called to report on Ted's appearance in Bridgeport. We did not spin tires in the parking lot and make a getaway.

Everything else in the story is true. As well as I can remember.

1 comment:

  1. The 'truth' in the story transcends exaggeration.