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Traveling Through The Backroads Of My Mind

Jan. 30th, 2010 09:24 am Dear Journal

Dear Journal:

Where have you been? No entries or thoughts for days, weeks, and months on end other than a few private thoughts for no one but my innerself to see. Lost in endless social networking status updates and meaningless comments....ignoring the who and what I really am. Time to find you again. 2009 was a strange year...with job loss, money fears, and running away from it all in a ghosttown or two living my ultimate passion. Made a few friends and renewed a few....even set a few aside for awhile...and lost a few to the other side of life, shedding laughter and tears accordingly. Ironed out financial remedies....and family problems....and tried to get into some sort of new routine. Ultimately...though....I've been hiding.... so it's time to crawl out of the woodwork...and find myself again. And to find myself that means seriously back to the back roads of my mind...

Now that I've wasted the whole first month of 2010 in some sort of oblivion....let's see where this years journey will take me......

Jul. 27th, 2009 12:11 am Bodie Diary...Final Entry

Bodie Diary Wednesday July 1, 2009

No word on State Park closures. Spent the day unpacking new books, coins, t-shirts, for museum. Helped Terri with membeership database and got supplies ready to go to Bridgeport for the Friends of Bodie booth. We had taco salds, which I provided, and sat in the office and ate and talked. We talked. Afterwards, I met Chris to do some research in old newspaper archives.

Things to bring tomorrow:
1. Water
2. hand held ham radio
3. purse
4. snacks

----------------------------------------------------------------
This was the last entry in my pen and paper diary of my time in Bodie. July 2 - 4 were busy days filled with hurried activites at the Bridgeport 4th of July celebrations. Roger showed up on July 2nd around 3:00, in from Los Angeles with Norm Stump. A quick greeting, then off to play on a dirt road somewhere, while Terri and I ran the booth. The rest of the weekend... he helped us run the booth.July 4th, Terri and I dressed in our costumes in Bodieite Alice Dolan's historic house. Most of Bodie came down and we re-created the Nevada/California border dispute in the parade all decked in costume on the old Graham truck. Crowds filled the streets and kept our booth buzzing after the parade. Terri kept going to buy dresses in the booth across from us and finally talked me in to buying two. We must have made quite a site...the two blond Bodie girls in capris and brand spankin' new "Bye God We're Going To Bodie" tank tops shopping for dresses.... standing in long lines for Indian tacos.... eating ice cream .. and running the booth, giving histories, selling Bodie books, shirts, and more. When the day was over....we packed up for the last time and barely held back the tears as we said goodbye. That evening Roger & I spent a quiet 4th in front of the Red Barn eating deli sandwiches, and enjoying ice cream drumsticks brought in by the case by Mark L. as a special holiday treat. After the meal we made the rounds...saying goodbye to Jenna, Mike, Chris, Jordan, Randy, and more..... On July 5th we woke early, packed up the tent and my crib on wheels.....walked into Bodie for one last time. At the Miner's Union Hall where I had worked for three weeks...Jenna I shared memories, frustrations, and said goodbye and hugged at least 5 times before Roger could break us away from each other. Then...it was time to go.....

Sunday - July 26, 2009

Although I unpacked the majority of my things the week I came home....I couldn't completely let go of my Bodie crib on wheels. My son called this afternoon, the owners wondered if we were ready to bring the van home to them. Tomorrow... we said...and Roger spent the afternoon taking out the radios..... I spent the evening taking down my red white and blue flags, blanket, and more that had hung on the walls. I took down the picture of Rosa May that kept me company while I camped....and I sat down on the back of the van holding it...the tears streaming down my face. Roger snapped pictures of the sorrowful state I was in....then I took Rosa May and hung her back in the van for the owners to get to know her. I will print out my Bodie diary for the vanowners ...and give them a book and a dvd on Bodie as a thank you for enabling me to see my dream come true to live and work in Bodie. On August 3rd...Roger and I will pack the tent, and head back up to Milk Ranch for two weeks. I'm not sure he will be able to get me to come home with him next time. My heart is in Bodie now....with the staff and the spirits who became my friends......

Jul. 22nd, 2009 10:56 am Bodie Diary: Tuesday June 30 2009

Bodie Diary - Tuesday June 30, 2009

Woke to clouds that quickly darkened the sky and dropped a few raindrops only when I stuck my head out of the van. I wore shorts for part of the morning, but quickly the wind chilled the air, so I changed to capris. I had a shopping date with Jenna at 1:00 so spent the morning completely cleaning both my tent which held an overflow of supplies, and my van that I have been living in. More room to breathe now and I can find things. Well... I can find most things - no sign of the two books I thought I brought - but I have purchased two new copies to replace them.

Just as I was preparing to go to Jenna's she appeared at Milk Ranch instead, and we loaded up and headed out. As we waved to Mark L. at the kiosk, he sternly pointed to us to turn back to Bodie instead. Back to the Red Barn, Jenna was relieved to find out that long overdue pay checks had finally arrived and she actually had money to do the shopping we had been on the way to do!

We followed a tractor grading the dirt road to Bridgeport out of Bodie undoing mild damage our June storms were doing on the washboardy old road. In Bridgeport we made a quick stop to the post office to check for Jenna's mail,then north on highway 395 through beautiful green meadows full of wild iris, wild roses, and more. The Walker River was full of rapids. I don't think I have sever seen it so full. Our first stop was the tiny community of Walker where we got burgers to go and ate them as we continued to drive through more green and beautiful country.

Gardnerville was our destination...and the place of choice for most modern Bodieites to do their errand shopping apparently. At the Raileys Market we got food supplies and Jenna's banking done, then we went to the local Farmer's market. The fresh lettuces and other vegetables they had on display were a delight to behold after my primary diet of canned foods and Lean Cuisines. Jenna bought a tomato and a strawberry plant to try in the green house she and Mike had built. Perhaps in August she'll be sharing the fruits with me. Bodie gardening is severely limited to sagebrush, hops, wild iris, and one rhubarb plant left over by an original Bodie family.

As we drove home, we distinctly smelled smoke, and could see it in the mountains northwest of Bridgeport. It was hard to calculate where it was actually coming from however. The weather on our drive was blue sky otherwise, and a breeze to keep the air from getting too warm. It was delightful! Even back home in Bodie the clouds had disappeared for the most part and it was a nice day with warmth back in the air again.

Jenna dropped me and my food stuffs off in front of my crib on wheels at Milk Ranch. I loaded everything in the back and headed to the Red Barn to put things in the refrigerator and freezer, and to trade out blue ice for my ice chest. Charlie, Rod and Laird were drinking beers and chewing the fat on the bench in front of the barn. Chris came out, Mark L. appeared, and more. The usual frisbee tossing was going on in the old dusty street and this is life for modern Bodieites after the tourists go home. I grabbed a #10 can of roasted peanuts that I had brought in with my original supplies from my Tujunga home, and offered to go with the beer. After I put my perishables away, I called Roger to catch up on the news and fill him in on life in Bodie.

Note: Rumor on state park budget was that IOU's were going to be handed out instead of pay checks and they are fighting hard to help keep the parks open. The deadline is midnight tonight. We will see what happens to morrow. We have a meeting in the morning at 9 A.m. to discuss Friends of Bodie day and the 4th of July parade in Bridgeport. Let's hope we don't get bad news delivered at the same time.

Note: This morning the little generator finally ran out of gas just as I was finishing drying my hair. I was worried about filling it up, but that was no problem. One tank lasted me 2 1/2 weeks of morning hair drying. It has gotten much easier to start as the days progress. ... I have more strength in my arms from struggling with it....starting generators is better than 4 hours of Tae Bo a day back at home. The generator was brand new when I got it, and the cold Bodie mornings made it difficult as well, but now it takes less tries for me to get it going!

Jul. 20th, 2009 03:32 pm Bodie Diary - Monday June 29, 2009

Bodie Diary - Monday June 29, 2009

The morning was warm once again as I began my last day working in the museum. This is not my last day in Bodie...I will be here until the 5th of July...but my days will be filled with Bridgeport 4th of July activities and The Friends of Bodie booth.

As usual, the day started out slow, then towards 11 or 12 the crowds came in. The 11:15 video was mine today and it turned into an overwhelming crowd. A large group full of kids overflowed the theater in the Red Barn, much to my surprise. I exceeded the fire limit by three, but that was quickly remedied when a family of three had to leave because the little boy needed to go to the bathroom.

Following the video, a Belgian family came up to me all angry that they hadn't been able to get in. I checked with Mark and got permission for a 12:00 showing and got twelve other takers, including the family that had missed out, and one other woman and her husband that I had to turn down the first time. Everyone was delighted I had managed to accomodated them after all, and a few hurried to the museum to buy the full one hour DVD. Whew! A bad situation turned good after all!

Jordan was taking over in the museum when I got back. In a fast attempt to rescue her, I think I screwed up a couple of the cash register sales. ....not for the customers but for Jenna's end of day. The tape ran out, too, but Mark L. came to the rescue. The three of us must have been a spectacle, trying to figure out FOB discounts, mis-entered transactions, and the cash register tape all at the same time. Fortunately the ladies waiting to purchase their items kept in good humor.

Jenna came back and things kept busy. By this time I was nursing a "vision migraine" without the headache, and waiting for three Tylenol to kick in. Meantime, we swore in a few Jr. State Park Rangers and I made friends with a family from Redwood City on their first visit to Bodie. The younger boy told me all about his vacation thus far, which included his first trip to Yosemite as well. Memories of my own childhood vacations with twice a year camping trips to Yosemite came to mind as I listened to him tell about his and show me pictures on his camera. I tried to reach way back to the days when I took real vacations instead of being a tour guide for other people's vacations. The boy also showed me family pictures on his camera from home - his coon hound dog and his pet bunny. He was fascinated that I lived in a real live ghosttown, too. In fact that may be the most ask question one gets when they work in Bodie - "Where do you live and what's it like?"

We were busy, but somehow the day seemed to drag. 3:30 couldn't get here fast enough. At last Mark L. came to pick up Jordan and I and it was off to the Bodie bluff for a private tour! We saw the ponds and learned that in winter the rangers ski on them. Mark H.'s dog Cole occassionally goes for a summer swim, too. We didn't get out of the truck and into any buildings, but I had done the tourist version of the bluff tour years ago. Mark pointed out one building that had an adobe wall - the only one like it in Bodie. He pointed out the mines and mountain peaks at various stops - from Nevada to California. What a view of town we had, too! We saw many remnants of many mining attempts and then stopped and got out of the truck to throw a rock down one deep shaft. We wound up at 9,000 feet and a great overlook of Bodie. We tried to imagine what it all must have looked like when it was in full boom.

The wildflowers were everywhere, and even at 9,000 feet elevation, Mark showed us one cactus tucked away. We learned about the pika that play in the mine tailings and build six feet haystacks. We learned a little about animal droppings too, as Mark is a "shit" expert, as well. And the old railroad grade was pointed out to us, where the Bodie railway came in with logs from Mono Mills. Mark talked about what a greuling mountain bike trek the route is now, and I told him about our experience driving it in the old Blazer several years ago. From another view he pointed to the Geiger Grade and what an incredible route that is to barrel down on a Mountain Bike without breaks on, too. Currently, it's too rocky for fast no brake excursions though, thanks to all the storms we've been having. We also learned that the Bodie bluff is full of incredible Indian archaeology, but we didn't get to see any artifiacts today. Still, just imagining all the railroad, the water, the mining, and the ecology of the area - it was incredible time and we had a lot of laughs along the way.

We get back to the museum to help Jenna close out her day. I tried to call Roger to brag about my bluff tour, but he wasn't by the phone or he was out somewhere. So I reluctantly headed back to Milk Ranch to try to beat the inevitable early evening cloud build up. I barely got my meal cooked on my little two burner propane before the dropbs hit and the sky rumbled a few times.

Tomorrow Jenna and I will play, then Wednesday I'll get the van ready for Roger who will arrive on Thursday. If Terri's in town, I'm sure she'll have chores for us to do to get ready for our booth in Bridgeport and all of the 4th of July festivities.

I still pinch myself that I am living in and experiencing Bodie. It's fun to watch and hear the visitors from all over the world experiencing this old ghosttown and to help them understand what went on in it over the years. I marvel at people who have never before been a part of such a place and are learning things that just seem second nature to me after over twenty years of being a part of such places myself.

The sun is setting and darkness will soon take over. The air is dipping down to cool temperatures once again. With no particiular schedule until 1:00 tomorrow with Jenna, I think I will put down my pen for the night and hit the Bodie history books until my eyes grow tired and I fall asleep.

Jul. 19th, 2009 08:22 pm Diary of Bodie - Sunday June 28, 2009

Diary of Bodie - Sunday June 28, 2009

The beginning of my last week, a glorious blue sky day, quickly heating to 80 degrees or more. Summer is here and thank God for being a voluntter as I get to wear shorts and don't have to wear a ranger uniform.

Once again the day started slow, but by my 11 :15 video, the museum was hopping. I had a full house for the early video but the 3:15 only had 8 takers. The barn retains the night's cold, but I couldn't even sell natures air conditioningg, let alone "Bodie Ghost Town Frozen In Time." The heat drained on the Bodie Staff, used to the cooler temperatures we've had. Imagine! Last weeek it was rain and hail and a few weeks before that it was 2 inches of snow on the ground.

Mark L. stopped me at lunch to invite me on a Bodie bluff tour tomorrow. I can hardly wait! Then as I slowly trudge back to the staff parking where my van is, I realize Mark has followed me up there to make a special point to thank me for my work in the museum and my knowledge of Bodie. I've had so much fun - I don't need a thank you - and I hate to think of this being the last week here!

Now I sit in the quilt lined white motel chair inside the van, the doors open to bring in the cooling breeze. I'm tired now, and my nose and throat are a bit tingly. Once a week someone has been coming down with the Bodie flu or something and been flat on their backs for two days. Mine is probably allergies...which I drowned in 1,000 mg Vitamin C, sudafed, and a bottle of Arrowhead Sparkling water. I have a chill once in awhile too..but it's probably nothing.

In a bit I plan to search my rubbermaid pantry and cook up a bit of dinner, then retire with a Bodie history for the evening, as I always do. What better way to spend an evening in a ghosttown when nothing else is going on.

Dang... I lingered too long banking on good weather. The wind blew in, the sky darkened, and the rumbling began again. Six inches of rain (6 inches between rain drops...or was that an inch between 6 raindrops?) The Bodie Bluff and beyond looked like it was getting the brunt of it. I tried to wait it out, then decided on cold canned roast beef and green bean salad for dinner..instead of struggling with my little propane stove outside on the picnic table with a storm overhead.

For a brief moment it looked like the clouds would pass Milk Ranch, then the wind kicked up once again. Temperatures dropped from 80 degrees to 60 degrees then 50 degreees. The skies grumbled a bit in the distance, and even now as I write this the clouds faintly argue with the sun.

If you don't like the weather in Bodie, wait a bit, and nature will offer you something new - at least here June 2009, the weeks I live in Milk Ranch.

A quiet and still moment or two and the woodpecker resident of the wooden shower building I am parked next to suddenly pops out of his hole and perches on the roof top, crying perhaps to the weather Gods. I notice, also, the field of iris I am camped amongst are now down trodden from intermittant heat and rain.

Now quickly, patches of blue sky overhead and silence, yet towards the ghost town of Aurora, I see more thunderheads in all their glory.

The woodpecker cries again, perched here on the shower rooftop. I've come to the conclusion the bird is protecting a nest. At one point I notice a smaller bird playing on the ground - perhaps a baby? Then I hear angry bird chatter and the larger bird is at the hole arguing with another woodpecker. It appears the larger bird has flown off now, and a head peers out of the hole on watch. The bird is aware of my presence, watching inside the van, and tucks away safely inside for a moment out of my sight, then a head pops out once again and resumes watch.

I am fascinated in this treeless land of Bodie, that a woodpecker is entertaining me in it's home in the Milk Ranch Shower building.

Jul. 19th, 2009 11:49 am Bodie Diary - Friday June 26, 2009 & Saturday June 27, 2009

Bodie Diary - Friday June 26, 2009 and Saturday June 27, 2009

A gorgeous blue sky, warm day. The iris are blooming and the bugs are buzzing in Milk Ranch where I park my wheels. Today is Jenna's 21st birthday! I gave her a signed copy of From This Mountain Cerro Gordo, and hung out with her at the museum - helping out when it got busy. I did walk the town, and got in a leisurely two miles.

At some point in the museum, I was with Rod when the phone rang. Mark H.'s wife was trying to reach him. Some sort of hostage situation was going on by their rather remote house in Volcano, California. Strange situation for a town of 100 or so people.

Three o'clock I went with Jordan for the stamp mill tour that John was doing, then back to the museum to help with closing for the day. and off to Milk Ranch. Baseball or frisbee night in town - but I may just hang out at the van instead.

I asked around about my missing Bodie books. If I don't find them at Chris's place, I'm going to have to buy new copies. Dang - two most expensives books in Bodie - then you know they will magically turn up after I buy them. Oh well.. gotta have them.

Two weeks in Bodie, one more to go. I do miss home and Roger and my fur babies, but haven't allowed myself to think about it. The lack of internet and news is actually delightful! I shudder to think about going back to the 21st century and the mess California is in. The ghosts of the mines, the badmen and their ladies are much preferable to reality.

Saturday - June 27, 2009

As I get ready to head into the old mining town where I work, I realized the darned compost trucks (don't ask why they are there) had blocked the road to my camp site at Milk Ranch. Just as I prepared to walk the 1/2 mile to town, Mike came up in his truck and I hitched a ride with him. First stop, machine shop, then right to Red Barn - Bodie, California. Jenna was there and we walked to the old Miner's Union Hall, now the museum, where we work 4 days a week.

The morning was slow till the Hilton Ranch people arrived. Rumour had it Neil Armstrong was amongst the group - but we couldn't pick him out. Terri gave them a town tour, including a peek inside the Boone Store, then she got an invite to join them on a helicopter flight to a luncheon in a meadow complete with fine table cloth and tableware, and treament like a princess.

Meanwhile, Jenna and I took our lunch break at her house and a half hour computer fix for me. I was able to get on Facebook long enough to leave Roger a private message, then I spent some time on p.v. com to leave a message for my buddies there. Everyone else will have to get a report from me when I get back to the 21st century.

I decided to walk to Milk Ranch and get my van, my 2 meter handheld radio which I had forgotten, and something quick to eat. The compost trucks had moved so it was clear sailing and I drove the crib on wheels right into the employee parking lot and behind the sno cat.

It seemed to be the day for lost items. An Asian man lost his camera bag, but found it hours later thankfully. debbie turned in a Motorola handheld and I turned in a sun visor left in the Red Barn theater after i put on the 3:15 video. Mark H. called in a vehicle rollover on Cottonwood Canyon Road - no injuries apparently. That and endless sales of books, t-shirts, maps and more, as well as questions and answers on history, and the swearing of Bodie Junior Park Rangers.....made another day in the museum.

Following the video presentation, I came back to an excited Jenna. Lottie Johl's great granddaughter came to town! Awhile later, she stopped in the museum again and I was amazed to find her a dead ringer for Lottie whose picture hangs on the wall. Rosa, Pat Reddy and Lottie's relatives all in a few weeks, and while I am in town...imagine that!!!

I called Roger and talked for a long while then back to Milk Ranch for the end of my day. Chili and pita grilled cheese for dinner, a chat with my neighbor Laird, and some minor house cleaning chores, then time for pen to paper to record it all.

Lest I forget - the day was the warmest yet and at last - shorts and short sleeves. Advantage to being a volunteer - no uniform!! Only a volunteer vest...

Jul. 18th, 2009 07:45 pm Bodie Diary Wednesday June 24, 2009 & Thursday June 25, 2009

Bodie Diary Wednesday June 24, 2009 & Thursday June 25, 2009


I slept till 8:00 A.M. in an effort to recuperate from the burning of Bodie the night before. I lingered over a Diet Coke and a bagel and cream cheese then spent a few hours housekeeping as my crib was becoming cluttered and needed some re-organization. The day was mine, I had no official volunteer duties, but I was glad to meet up with Terri and work on the Friends of Bodie membership database.

By 2 or 3, I was done and headed to the staff parking lot. There I sat inside my van and enjoyed pita bread filled with tuna. When lunch was done, I headed to the cemetery and spent a long time with the poor souls laid to rest there. I said a special prayer at Bobbie Bells grave, thinking of the bond Terri had with this man who shared his Bodie history with her. I lingered a goodly amount of time at Lottie Johl's grave, The Millers, and of course Rosa May's. I noticed the Rosa Elizabeth White grave in the distance from the Servante one...and pondered over that mystery. I was sure that grave had been taken down last time I was there.

The last hour before the museum closed I chewed the fat with other park staff, walked the perimeter of the entire town, then ended my day with historic chats with Chris Spiller, and a phone call to my 21st century home. I do miss Roger and my fur babies, but it's nice to be here tucked away between the 1860's and the 1940's in the Bodie Hills. The depression here fits me more than the modern of 2009 that hovers over my small family. Bodie State historic Park lingers also, in the shadows of the modern depression as well, but time will tell whether the shadows will close in on the old mining town or not. July 1st will be here before you know it....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A quiet and lazy day for me as I am off once again. Following my leisurely bagel and cream cheese, and cup of coffee, I got dressed and started to head out. My keys were missing! After some panic I found them on the quilt covered white motel chair next to my bed inside the van.

Back in town, this day, I walked the old roads again, with a desire to find Mrs. Miller who I had portrayed on the anniversary of the Bodie Bill's fire. I discovered two of Mrs. Miller's boarding houses and lingered awhile to see what stories the ghosts could tell me. The larger of the two buildings appears to have an upstairs - an attic or more rooms? The back side has one window but the front does not. I ran into Mark Hoffman on patrol and queried him, but he had never been inside that pariticular building.

I strolled up and down the old Bodie streets, peering in and out of buildings. Pat Reddy's residence called to me and I examined as best I could for a connection to the one armed lawyer who also had left traces in Cerro Gordo, Darwin, Randsburg, and more.

Around 1;00 I headed back to Milk Ranch. Clouds hung around threatening. I grabbed a lunch and my books and sat inside my crib on wheels thumbing through them, reading pertinant stories to my mornings jaunt around the old town.

The clouds closed in and wind and rain pelted the van. About this I was in a panic trying to find two of my books. No luck, but I did prove to myself, I had them at some point. Perhaps I had left them in the Red Barn, Chris's, or Jennas.

I spent the rest of the day reading histories of the old ghost town, familiarizing myself once again with its characters, it's legends, lore, fact, fiction and more. The clouds hovered around Milk Ranch and the wind kicked up the dust on the road. Gusts occassionally rocked this strange crib on wheels that I have lived in for two weeks. The temperatures played back and forth from 80 degrees to the 40's. By 8:00, as I write this, the temperatures are dipping down to 35 or less.

I'm in my pajamas, a sweater for a top, and a laptop blanket on my knees. Perhaps at Mono Lake it is raining - the clouds are dark over that way. It should be an interesting night on the outskirts of Bodie. Emil Billeb and his Mining Camp Days will see me through the darkness until my weary eyes fail me and I drft off to Bodie dreams.

Jul. 17th, 2009 03:20 pm Bodie Diary June 22 & 23, 2009

Bodie Diary Monday June 22, 2009

Temperature 20 degrees again on a clear sky Bodie morning. Following morning chores and simple breakfast of bagel and cream cheese, I headed into town. The Hilton Flying club flew over in a little plane and gave us an air show. I met them later in the museum. Mike & Jenna were cleaning the museum when I got there. The morning was slow and inspite of the clear skies and sunshine the wind blew chilly in the museum and we shivered. At 10:45 Jordan and I went to the Red Barn theater and set up the video with 32 in attendance.

By noon Bodie was booming and the parking lot was full. The modern Bodieites were tired and grumpy today. Perhaps our late girls night contributed to part of that. We did have lots of laughs, the four of us - Mike, Jenna, Jordan and I...so grumpiness didn't totally take over. We also met some really fun families that helped brighten our day. Mike was head Junior Ranger for the day and recruited many 7-12 year olds this day.

Towards the end of the day two boys came in with their paperwork completed and one irate father. "#7 on the questions regarding the stamp mill, should be elliminated!" he demanded, as they had gotten in trouble trying to find the answer by jumping over the fence and wandering the stamp mill grounds by themselves. WTF was he thinking?????? Mike turned the incident around and the boys got pins anyway.

Jenna had spent the day looking at her veggie cookbooks and Jordan and I were invited to enjoy dinner with her and Mike again. I had a mild migraine and my back hurt from standing all day. It was cold and clouds built up threatening rain again. I passed on dinner and headed back to my crib on wheels where I heated a can of chili with some monterey jack in it and holed up for the night. The clouds suddenly cleared as I finished my journal. It's 50 degrees inside the van and appears to be about 38 degrees outside with the wind blowing.



Tuesday June 22, 2009

A warmer day for a change. Worked in the museum with Laird today. Stocked books and t-shirts. Suddenly a surprise - Terri drives up to the museum with Rod Duff - back to Bodie at last after a bout with pnuemonia. He was weak and pale and walking with a cane, but happy to be back in town! We had a grand time welcoming Rod back!

Today was my first day starting up the video by myself. No problem at all and 30 some visitors enjoyed the half hour presentation of Ghost Town Frozen In Time. Afterwards, I was asked to meet Terri in her office and she trained me on the FOB membership. Just as I was getting settled a call came out over the radio for me. I had visitors!

Kris from www.panamintvalley.com and his wife and 3 boys came to Bodie as promised. I quickly saw the opportunity to turn the two older boys into Junior Park Rangers and guided them through town in search of the answers of the questions on the pamphlet. I included a few stories - of Lottie and Bodie Bill along the way. At the end of the tour while the boys were looking in the school house - I suddenly realized I was staring at another acquaintance - Cathy, the bookkeeper from Friends of Jawbone and the owner of Wimpy's in Cal City. Small world I live in!

The boys successfully completed the ranger prgram and the younger one earned a sticker for participating with his brothers, although his participation was mainly learning the numbers on the buildings we were looking at. I announced the new rangers to a crowded Miner's Union Hall who cheered at the news and the boys gleemed.

The museum was busy, so Terri and I wound up watching over things to give Laird and Rod a break. Soon it was closing time and June 23, 1932 was about to come to life.

Terri had picked out a 1930's style dress and hat to turn me into Mrs. Miller, the owner of the Occidental Hotel and a boarding house on Green Street. I showered in the clawfoot bathtub of the J. S. Cain House and began my transformation. I pinned my hair into a tight bun at the nape of my neck, curled my bangs, and a few strands of ringlets fell across my cheeks. Make-up and my John Lennon glasses - I was done. Terri was reminded of Ella Cain, she said, but tonight I was Mrs. Miller!

Terri and I grabbed the pan of lasagna she had heated for our potluck contribution, and we headed to the Red Barn, both of us in character. Following potluck, and a round of pictures, the burning of Bodie by a little boy who was angry over green jello, came to life. We each had our turn to tell our story and condemn poor Charlie Spiller who was dressed in overalls and chewed on a match, denying he did any wrong doing.

Our cast of players:

Laird: Mr. Johnson of the Sawdust Saloon
Jenna: Pretty Baby who worked for Mr. Johnson
Bodie Bill - Charlie Spilller
Bodie Billie Bob - Mark Langner
The Cow - The Hurdy Gurdy Cow - Lynn
Terri
Chris Spiller
Mike - the fireman
The judges - Rod & John
Bill's Mother - Debbie - accused of being a drunk and Mrs. Miller (me) discoverd a flask hidden in the back of her shirt to prove it

The evening was wild in Bodie style! Terri proved to have the best Deadwood language - who would have thought it!

Following the trial, costume judging, and candy prizes, Jenna and Mike's miniature Sawdust Saloon was taken outside and we burned it just as it had been so many years before. Lots of laughter and jokes as the poor birdhouse size building struggled to burn.

In celebration afterwards we watched Hells Hero's and ate green jello, of course. Hurrah's were shouted every time Bodie showed up in the old movie with buildings intact instead of old and in arrested decay. The scene with the hearse that sits inside the museum being pulled down the street by horses really excited us. Aside from Bodie much of the movie was filmed in the Red Rock Canyon area..so that was fun as well.

On my way back to Milk Ranch, the sky was sans clouds for a change and a shooting star was viewed from the windshield of my crib on wheels. Back at Milk Ranch the milky way hovered over the town of Bodie and I felt blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of it all.

Another absolutely fine day and night in Bodie!

Jul. 14th, 2009 07:43 pm Bodie Diary - Sunday June 21, 2009

Bodie Diary - Sunday June 21, 2009

Sunday! My most interesting day in Bodie to date! Sunny day, warm for the most part. It wasn't too long in the museum before a man came in while Jenna was out and I was lone in the museum. He asked me if we had oxygen - his friend was lying down in the middle of Main Street, Bodie, with breathing difficulties. I radioed Chris, who radioed Mark L. The man managed to get up and come into the museum, but was disoriented and panting. He asked me where the bathroom was and I suggested the outhouse which is closer than the flush toilets in the parking lot. I told him to wait for his buddy to go with him. by the time I got his buddy, he had disappeared. Fortunately, he had just wandered off the boardwalk to the side of the building. He appeared delierious and disoriented. At my insistence, he finally laid down on the bench in front of the museum and I talked to him. His breathing was labored and he was very pail, but he could talk. He obviously felt better lying down exerting no energy. He described feeling knots in his stomach, tingling hands, lightheadedness, and thought maybe he had food poisoning from the previous night's dinner. I told him even the nausea was signs of altitude sickness.

As the man felt better he began laughing outloud. The humour of his situation hit him. He had been at altitude many times, hiked, and more, and never had any symptoms before. The more he talked to me, the more he relaxed and felt better. At last Mark L. came and gave him and his friend a ride to the parking lot with advise to get to lower altitude, even possibly moving to Bishop instead of Bridgeport.

This seemed to set the tone for the day. We had reports of boys jumping the fence and messing around in the stamp mill. The jar of representing finely crushed rock used on the interpretive tours,turned up missing later on - only remnants of it's contents spilt on the floor. More than likely the result of the mischievious kids. Later in the day Chris caught more young boys inside the mill area and her shouts scared them so much they hopped over the fence and ran down to Main Street like scared rabbits. Reports were going over our radios like crazy, and we all flew from different directions to head them off at the pass. Jenna and Randy caught them near the Boone Store...and gave them a lecture which scared them to death. I guess they were too ignorant to realize they weren't supposed to be in the mine area even though the fences and signs tell them to stay away.

Some time during this crazy day, Jenna and I found ourselves busy with hoards of people in the museum/ Miner's Union Hall, when word came over the radio that Mike had cut his finger on a lathe and needed first aid. Mark L. wound up taking him down to Mammoth hospital where he wound up most of the afternoon and evening.

At Jenna's lunch time, Jordan and I manned the museum. A man and his daughter appeared at the desk and announced that they were relatives of Pat Reddy, the famous one armed lawyer of Bodie, and Cerro Gordo fame. We exchanged information, and I sold him a silver Seekers book by Remi Nadeau so he could learn more about Pat Reddy and the ghost town of Cerro Gordo, which he was not aware of. The daughter, Lilly, about ten years old, was proud of her heritage and enjoyed talking history with me. We will be in touch again. Jenna came back from lunch and handed them a Bodie resident form to fill out for Terri's research program.

It was Save Our State Parks Day and people were requested to wear green and get pictures of themselves holding signs. Jenna and I worked througout the day on a panorama version with different people holding a sign with one of the words Save Our State Parks. We stood in front of our favorite place in Bodie holding the word, then Jenna posted it on the SOS site later in the evening. During our photo session, we also played around with ghost pictures in the Miller House. The ghosts we saw looked a lot like Cecile & Jenna ;-)

At the end of the day, Jenna, Jordan and I decided since Mike was still down in the hospital at Mammoth having his thumb tended to, we would have a girls night. Jenna's housemate, Debbie, would join us. Debbie and I headed in my van to pick up Jordan at the Moyle House where she lives. But before we could get there we had to head off vehicles parked at the kiosk after hours. No harm done - just tourists getting pictures from a distance since they got there too late for a real visit.

Jenna lives in the Garrity House and while it is different, the warmth and friendliness of Jenna and Mike's presence in their reminds me of the Belshaw House in Cerro Gordo. Jenna and Jordan cooked corn chowder and pumpkin waffles. The four of us girls took turns munching on the waffles as fast as they could come off of the electric waffle iron. They were delicious! Chowder done, we moved to the dining table and enjoyed it and more waffles. We must have been a sight in our jammies, pigging out on waffles and chowder in the old house, laughing and talking. Jenna loaded up the pictures she had taken of us during the day, and we laughed over them, while Debbie watched Jeremiah Johnson on a small tv in the living room.

We were all ready to make a real girls night of it, and go to sleep and wait for the ghosts...when Mike suddenly showed up with his thumb bandaged from his run - in with the lathe. We fed him corn chowder and made fun of his thumb. With Mike back, Jenna wanted to go back to Milk Ranch for the night with him, and Jordan was already half way out the door and on her way to the Moyle house on foot in the darkness of the Bodie night. Debbie watched Jeremiah Johnson, while I loaded Jenna and Mike in the van and we headed back to Milk Ranch to call it a night at our individual campsites.

Just another Sunday in Bodie, California!

Jul. 11th, 2009 11:12 am Bodie Diary Saturday, Juune 20, 2009

Bodie Diary - Saturday June 20, 2009

The sky was clear, the wind was light and chilly. I couldn't quite make out the thermometer but it was below freezing for sure. It never did warm up as nice as yesterday, but it was a pretty day with clouds occasionally dotting the sky. As I sit here tonight before the sun dips down, the clouds threaten once again to build up and close in on the mining town of the Sierras that I have called my home for over a week now.

It was a work day in the museum. I dusted the cases with collections from an era gone by. I sold books, maps, brochures, post cards & more. I folded t-shirt after t-shirt and put out for sale. Jenna was with me and we worked well together. We made friends with two puppies and their owners and yearned for our own fur babies left behind. The town was full of dogs it seemed, who walked beside owners curious and peering in and out of century old buildings left in arrested decay.

At break, I consoled a disturbed co-worker and realized that some things probably haven't changed all that much in the modern century. Human nature has tendancies hard to grow rid of.

Jordan and I tried to learn how to run the video in the Red Barn Theater upon instruction by James, but proved electronically challenged, particularly me.

Back at the museum we sold more items, gave out more information, and calmed an unhappy man who felt he had not been given enough information on a stamp mill tour. We got him on Debbie's 4:00 extended tour and he was still upset over things, Debbie in particular. Seeing potential for more problems, I horned in on the tour, chatted with him before it started, and walked back to main Street with him afterwards. Whatever damage had been done at the kiosk when he entered Bodie, was forgotten by Debbie's excellent tour. She may not be completely catching on at the kiosk but she certainly has the stamp mill and history talk down.

Back at camp in my crib on wheels - I tried wireless for the first time - with as little luck as I had at the Red Barn. I took to my pen and paper to tuck away the days journal and gave up on the computer altogether. My friends back home surely are wondering what happened to me. Ah modern techonologies in an old town.

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