We left Fallen Leaf Lake around 11:00 am and headed south via 89 to 395 for a 100 mile drive. We stopped by the side of the road near Fallen Leaf to hook up the truck to tow it behind the RV. Ralph sold his Mustang to his daughter and bought a Dodge Dakota 4×4 truck. With the Dakota we can explore the dirt, back roads and even 4 wheel it if need be. He found the towing equipment on Craig’s list and installed it all the week before we left home. The equipment was basically new and we got it for half the price of new. That’s makes me very happy as I am now collecting Social Security and watching my pennies. I guess I’ve come full circle…reminds me of my early 20s when I was watching my pennies. Difference is that this time I have reserves!
We have few lessons learned from this towing experience:
•Don’t hook up on the side of a busy road. There is so much noise that you cannot hear each other.
•Don’t tow over high mountain passes. It puts a big strain on the RV (gas not diesel) and makes Ralph want to buy a diesel rig. Drive the truck separately.
•Don’t calculate the gas mileage for the rig. At $5/gal we are better off not knowing.
We originally wanted to stay at Bootleg on the Walker River off 395 and 108. We drove through the campground looking for a suitable site for our 33 ft rig and towing the truck. There weren’t a lot of people camping there, however, there was three gallon bottles of water on the picnic tables. We said, “How weird…they must be saving the site”. Even though there was nothing to indicate that on the post at each campsite. The camp host was not there to ask so we decided to keep going to Bridgeport. We did ask the host at the next campground what the bottles of water meant. We were told they are there to douse the campfires. We had made an assumption and it was wrong and we missed out camping at this beautiful little spot near the river!
When we arrived in Bridgeport we parked the rig in front of a CHP station and unhooked the truck and took off to find a campsite. We headed to the Twin Lakes area just west of Bridgeport and finally found a campsite around 5 pm. It turned into a very long day. We usually try to be settled by 2 or 3 pm. We haven’t made any reservations on this trip, with the exception of Fallen Leaf Lake and are winging it this time. It can be both wonderful and stressful not to know EXACTLY where we will be staying. The free soul in me loves it; the project manager in me hates it! Twin Lakes is a very beautiful area with our campsite at 7250 ft elevation. Nice days and cool nights…just perfect. In fact, it actually rained one night…all night long. The sound of rain on the roof of the rig kept me up a good part of the night. Rain is a very precious thing here in California and I was both grateful and annoyed.
When we checked into the campground, the host told us about the “bear problem” at the string of campgrounds around the Twin Lakes. It seems that the bears are pretty smart and have a campground circuit for acquiring food. They are breaking into rigs through the screen doors, dragging barbeques away and generally wreaking havoc. We didn’t experience any of this, but the campsite across the street did.
I read about some dispersed camping near the Buckeye Hot Springs, so we took the truck to check it out. There are actually hot springs and we wanted to soak in them. The dirt road up to the springs was dusty and rough. Not real good for a rig, but we thought if we found the perfect spot we might move. We didn’t find a suitable spot so we went to soak in the hot springs and then headed back down the hill to our campsite at Twin Lakes.
After changing into our bathing suits in the truck (not as easy to do as it was in my 20s!) we took out in search of the hot springs. Someone in the parking lot pointed us in the direction and said, “It’s down that hill”. And down the hill we went! The hike down to the hot springs was steep and rocky. At the bottom was a river and three pools of natural hot springs. The water seeps out of the rock and it is so hot you can cook eggs in it! You can regulate the temperature by letting in some water from the river. The springs are shallow pools, maybe two feet deep, with sand/mud bottoms. We spent a couple of hours there and then the long climb back up the hill with only one scraped shin to show for it.
The next day we took off in the truck to visit the mining ghost town of Bodie which is a California State Historic Park about 19 miles southeast of Bridgeport. Or I should say what remains of Bodie; only five percent of the buildings it contained during the 1880s heyday still remain. The State maintains Bodie’s “arrested decay.” Bodie rose to prominence with the decline of mining along the Western slope of the Sierra Nevada. In 1879 Bodie’s population was 10,000 and was second to none for wickedness, bad men and “the worst climate out of doors.” My kind of town (except for the climate). At the time it was the second largest in California.
Walking the streets of Bodie was like being in a Twilight Zone episode. The interiors of many of the buildings are just as the folks left them. It was like the entire population was abducted by aliens at the same time and everything froze in time. Many of the items in the buildings and museum looked familiar to me. Some of the furniture too. The Jenny Lind bed, the first wood burning and gas stoves, the books, reading glasses, button-up shoes, etc. all made me relate to my long-gone relatives in a different way. We spent a good three hours walking the ground, peering into windows and looking at old machines. Another wonderful jewel in the treasure box we call California.
On the way back to camp we stopped at the Travertine Hot Springs on the south side of Bridgeport. It’s another spot where very, very hot water seeps out of the ground and collects in low spots. We saw one pool and it was only about six inches deep. Not enough for me! A local man was there cleaning out some of the muck in the pools and told us a little about the springs and the area. He had been coming there since he was a boy. And yes there is actually Travertine. Doesn’t exactly look like the stuff I put in my last house! Take a look…
Until the next time…