Welcome to Bodie

According to the California Registered Landmark plaque [below left], Gold was discovered here in 1859 by W.S. Body after whom the town was named. Once the most thriving metropolis of the Mono Country, Bodie's mines produced gold valued at more than 100 million dollars. Tough as nails, "The Bad Man From Bodie" still carries his guns and Bowie knife down through the pages of Western history.

With the rush to get rich quick, the town reached its' peak in 1879 with a population of about 10,000, but by 1882, with all the gold gone, Bodie was pretty much done. People continued to live in there, but in 1931, a fire ravaged the main business district, and by the mid-1940's, most inhabitants had left. Bodie became a California State Historical Landmark in 1962.

Because of the elevation [8700 feet] and the dry weather, about 150 of the old buildings are now in a state of 'arrested decay.' They're rotting away, but very slowly. A staff of rangers and crew live on-site, and those who want to take the 13 mile trek from the main highway are welcome to drive in. [be warned, the last 3 miles are an unpaved gravel road -- it's rough.]

Once there, we encountered very few people. It's very quiet and somber, but quite intriguing.
After about an hour exploring Bodie, we headed out, back to 395..
and it wasn't too long that we were welcomed to Nevada.

As a kid, Reno seemed to be good, clean fun as a summer vacation spot. My brother and I would walk down to 7-11 for Slurpees, or over to K-mart and buy U-DO super balls. Gramps would take us to Magic Carpet miniature golf or to watch the Reno Silver Sox Triple-A baseball team.

John Ascuaga's Nugget had a cool Disneyland-like feel to it, -- 'Bertha and Tina' were a pair of trained elephants who appeared before the headliners in the casino show room.

The Wilbur D. May Museum, the planetarium at UN Reno, and feeding the ducks at Virginia Lake. Driving into downtown Reno at night to see all the neon lights was a big deal.

The Liberty Belle restaurant - family owned and filled with antique toys, trinkets, and collectibles. Small town stuff - but fun.

One year, I even created a chocolate chip cookie recipe at Grandma and Grandpa's -- which I call Chocolate Chip Renos [the recipe is listed here]

But the stuff was just stuff. Grandma and Grandpa were the draw. I always feel lucky to have known my grandparents. Really known them.

As for Reno, well today, it's different. Reno has certainly grown over the years, but almost like a gawky teenager with big dumb feet, zits, and no clue where he's going.

Where Vegas has developed a beautifully designed gambling haven that operates along side its' residential communities, Reno hasn't gotten comfortable with either one.

Two years ago, the city planners couldn't wait to tear down the Mapes hotel. [left] Built in 1947, The Mapes was one of the only downtown hotel/casinos with any historical value. Now the area sits vacant.

And instead of getting better and cleaner and more slick, downtown Reno [below] has become crummier -- with fewer casinos, more empty buildings, and lots of burned out neon.

Where they might have created an Old Town Reno utilizing existing structures, and going back in time, they're attempting to modernize the area with Starbucks, Borders Books, Century Theatre 16, and The National Bowling Stadium.

Riverwalk was started about 10 years ago, but it isn't working -- apparently not enough people want to go into downtown Reno and hang out.

But we're not here to cry over The Mapes anyway. Or wonder who Pick Hobson was. Or what the sociological implications of The Shy Clown or Teddy Bear Havas are. Once again, Grandma was the draw.

And Grandma is who we saw...

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