Bishop, California - August 1999

We are in Bishop California. We went in to the middle of the desert and went rock climbing. Mitch and I went down really steep rocks.   By Max

This area is covered with smooth, huge boulders.  The locals call it "Buttermilk Country".  We understand that it got it's name from stage coach passengers who would stop at the nearby station and were served fresh buttermilk.

This area is a "kid heaven" and is located about seven miles west of Bishop. 

We were out in the middle of nowhere and our Dad unloaded our bikes. Then Mitch and I rode back to the paved street.  On the way it was really bumpy.   By Max

 Bishop is a town of less than 4000 people, (plus tourists). We were very pleased by it's small town friendliness and charm.  We stayed in an RV park on a small creek across from the city park and next to the well known and extremely popular Erick Schat's Bakery, home of the original "Sheepherders" bread.
We were only going to stay a day or two, but then we found out that the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fair was coming to the Bishop Fairgrounds the following weekend.  We ended up staying for a week and loved it!

In talking to some locals, we learned that Bishop is about the same as it was twenty to thirty years ago.   Not because of geography or a poor economy, but because all of the land around the town is owned either by Los Angeles City Power or the Bureau of Land Management.  So the town may be remodeled but the size remains the same.  To us, the town seemed as close to "Mayberry" as one can get.  ("Pleasantville" for you younger readers.) 

The fair was the best I've ever been to.  It started Thursday night and we went to the Lemon Meringue Pie contest. We didn't stay for the chance to try a piece because I wanted to go to the homemade Salsa Contest that was going on at the same time.  Not only could we sample 40 plus different salsas but The Mammoth Brewery was providing free samples as well.  To keep it short, I'll just say there was more to do at this little fair than you can do in one day.  Thursday's events ended with the Monster Truck Competition.
Can he stay on?

Guess not!

Needless to say, there was bull riding.

Anyone for a game of poker?  The idea here was to see who could stay in their chair the longest.  I thought they meant "who would not get up and run first".  It turned out to be "who would get butted out their chair last".

These guys and one gal, would literally sit in their chair until the bull ran over them.  I think they did lean to the left a little at the last second.  (These people were INSANE)!
One my way back for another Mammoth Ale, Max and I stopped to watch the announcer talking on the radio.  This station became Max's favorite after he talked live on the radio.  For you guys at 92.5, yes, we are still having a nice KDAY! 

In between rock climbing, rodeos and swimming at the city pool we made a trip ninety miles north to a ghost town (and California State Park) named Bodie.  Bodie was once California's second largest city, smaller only to San Fransico.  In it's hay day, or let's say gold day, over ten thousand miners and supporting professions occupied the town.  Today there is a population of ten to eighteen park rangers and employees that live in the town. 


 Bodie California, Population 0   (Summer 18)
This is a 1929 Dodge flatbed sitting outside of the service station.  The town is said to be in a state of "suspended decay".  Because of the dry weather it decays rather slowly.

In addition to the buildings, there was a lot of furniture and other personal belongings that were left behind.  Back in the late 1800's and early 1900's it would cost more to ship furniture, etc. to your new home than it would be to buy new stuff when you got there. Due to the lighting, we were unable to get any pictures inside the homes or businesses. Bodie is literally out in the middle of nowhere. 

Here is a picture of the Standard Silver Mill.  The mine was about a quarter of a mile up the hill.  We took a tour through the mine. 
 What stood out to me the most was the total lack of OSHA-type safety protections.  Not only was the machinery big, dangerous, unprotected and noisy, but both mercury and cyanide were used to process the gold.
 They said that if a worker got hurt you would have to fire them and hire someone else.  This is a shot of one of the five stamps in the mill.  The stamps pound the ore into a sand for further processing to remove the gold.  The mill was powered by electricity.  Bodie had the country's first long distance electrical distribution systems.  Where's there's gold -- there's a way. 
After leaving Eastern California we headed into Nevada for Max's 8th birthday at Circus Circus.  Here, the boys are standing on the border to Nevada.   We had a great time in Reno.  Besides the low price buffets, we saw the Little River Band concert and went to the annual Hot Air Balloon Race.  (We will have some pictures of the balloons up on the web real soon).
Happy Birthday Max!
Such intensity.

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