More buildings in Bodie, done from a photo. I’ve done a large pastel of this scene which turned out quite nice and has been sold.
This is part of downtown Bodie with a dust devil in action. There were many of them that day, and the contact lenses in my eyes were not very happy. I think the best time to go there is in early September when the weather is more predictable, it’s still warm and the rabbit brush is in full splendor—and the road is still open. Spring is too cold and muddy, summer is too hot, and it’s closed during the winter months.
On the way home I took the side trip to Bodie, the ghost town that is kept in an “arrested state of decay” and therefore one of the best preserved ghost towns in the West. It was very windy and dusty that day, and as you can see, there is not a tree in sight anywhere. It was a former gold mining town at 8,379 feet in elevation, with 10,000 inhabitants and 2,000 buildings, of which 65 were saloons, a red light district and a chinatown where opium was readily available. It was a lawless town with at least one shooting almost every day. Today there are 150 buildings left and only two permanent residents who are both park rangers of the State of California. The wind blows just about all the time, and the only obvious plant life is rabbit brush and sage and some scrawny grasses. Summers are blazing hot and winters are hellishly cold. It is now visited by about 200,000 people a year.
This was a difficult painting for me because in reality it’s all just different shades of brown and gray with very little contrast, so I emphasized the rabbitbrush even though it was past it’s prime and was also a shade of light brown. And it was done from a photo since it was too windy and dusty and cold to actually sit and paint.
Another view of Mount Morrison from Hot Springs Road where there are all sorts of hot geysers and very unstable ground that has been fenced off because too many people got hurt. What I found interesting was that the stream into which a lot of that boiling water flows has trout in it, and when the trout land in the hot water parts by accident they get boiled. Voila! Dinner! Anyhow, there had been earthquakes in the area since some time in May and while I was in the area there were apparently several, of which I only felt one. By the time this sketch was done the whole mountain was enveloped in a gray cloud and new snow was falling.
In the other direction from the previous sketches is June Lake, and this is the road into June Lake. It’s a loop. One goes in from Hwy 395 and comes back out on Hwy 395, with several lakes and waterfalls and more spectacular scenery all along the loop. I met a group of Germans in June Lake who were touring the area on motorcycles, and we had a nice conversation even though my German no longer flows easily from the tongue. At least I understood everything they were saying; not sure they always understood me. But they had a lot of questions and I tried to help with even such mundane things as the rules of tipping here compared to home. It was fun. And they were awed by the size of this country and surprised how clean it is compared to the stuff they see about us on their news. Seems they are mostly familiar with inner city trash in the streets, which is NOT what most of the USA is all about. So it was nice to hear that the trip changed their negative views about us to more positive views in many areas. I think travel often does that for people.
Rock Creek Lake at 8,100 feet. This was my mother’s favorite lake while she was still alive and lived nearby, and we spent many good times there hiking when I was younger. Actually my mother was sort of like a deer until her mid 70s and she could out-hike me every time with me huffing and puffing behind her. The trails around this lake are spectacular with more glacial lakes and easy John Muir Wilderness access, plus great fishing and camping. One year after my mother passed away I was hiking one of those gorgeous trails and met a nice Dutch couple who said they came here to hike every other year because they loved it so much.
My little dog and I climbed a bit higher to get away from the tourist horde around the bridge which is to the right of this picture, and we found a comfortable rock where we sat in the sun and painted this. It’s a creek coming out of Lake Sabrina at over 9,000 feet in elevation.
Same general area as Lake Sabrina, except it’s the road to South Lake where the aspens were particularly lovely.
Lake Sabrina, elevation 9,138 feet. This is as high as I got on this trip, and the wind was fierce up there. Nevertheless, there were Japanese tourists all over the place taking pictures because it’s so gorgeous. All I can say is that by this time of the trip my skin was so dry from the drying winds that it soaked up lotion like a sponge soaks up water, and I felt as though my brain was drying out. I sat in the car to paint this because the wind was so strong that it practically blew me away. There are lovely trails all around the lake as well as into the mountains into elevations as high as 11,000 feet. Into and behind those mountains is the John Muir Wilderness with another glacial lake around almost every corner.
One morning I got up early and drove to Twin Lakes to watch the sun rise because I remembered how the sun lights up one peak at a time, going from left to right, and that’s exactly how it happened. Twenty-five years ago these two lakes, at 6,468 feet elevation, were still mostly wild, but today there are homes all along the shores with much private property, but also some lovely campgrounds that I remember from a long time ago. For the life of me I can’t figure out why people would build homes in such places where winters can be so difficult. There must be more hermits in the world than just me; but on the other hand, then I can’t figure out why they would cluster whole neighborhoods in the middle of nowhere and still live side by side. Oh well, it was lovely, but enough granite to last me a lifetime. LOL