Last time I posted here, I was recapping my three-week trip to Western Australia. While there's plenty of photos to be shared from my summer trek in Thailand, a month in Colorado, and fall in the Midwest, the photos from Thanksgiving with my mom skipped my backlog and made their way to the front of the list.
My immediate family is quite small. I'm an only child, and my father passed away when I was in my early 20s - which means that when it comes to getting together for the holidays, my mom and I sometimes have the opportunity to sneak out of town. I headed home to Michigan for a more traditional family Christmas in December, however for Thanksgiving, my mom flew out for adventures in California.
We spent a week with a home base in North Lake Tahoe, soaking in the winter wonderland nestled in California's Eastern Sierra. We also spent a day on the road, enjoying the drive along scenic Route 395 on our way to the ghost town of Bodie, and then on to the natural wonder that is Mono Lake.
The drive definitely did not disappoint. We started the day replacing a tire in Carson City, but by midday we were on our way, with perfect weather and the beginning of gorgeous mountain views.
I admittedly take WAY too many pictures - and as a result, my iPhone is constantly maxed out. There is no question that I get this trait from my mother. I think the two of us combined have at least fifty shots of the awesome view of Topaz Lake (above) taken from pretty much the side of the highway. (Yes, we're totally "those tourists" you see on the side of the road.)
After an awesome drive of about two and a half hours (well, probably longer, given our propensity to stop for pictures), we arrived at Bodie State Historic Park.
Located east of the Sierra Nevada mountains and northeast of Yosemite National Park, Bodie is a ghost town from the early gold-mining days of California. The deserted town - which once had a population of nearly 10,000 - is now a state park, with many structures still standing.
The remains of the town are being preserved in a state of what the park calls "arrested decay" - the interiors of buildings are as they were left: deserted by their owners, but in many cases stocked with goods or household items of previous eras.
The town's remaining buildings include homes of various sizes, a church, a school, and main street businesses - local bars, general stores, a hotel, and even an extremely creepy funeral parlor, caskets and all.
The town - billed as one of American's "largest unreconstructed ghost towns" - is also supposedly protected by a bad luck curse, which is said to haunt anyone who swipes an artifact from the historic site. We played it safe (and legal), leaving everything in its proper place.
We got in a solid amount of ghost town exploring by mid-afternoon, leaving plenty of time for an additional excursion. The mountain view on the way out of town and towards Mono Lake (below) was an extra bonus.
Learn more about Bodie State Historic Park via California State Parks, Travel + Leisure, Huffington Post Travel, and Thrillist. Another awesome (and perhaps more eerie) visiting option is to tour the park at night.
More on my Thanksgiving holiday in Tahoe (including an adventure to Mono Lake Tufa Reserve, a snowy drive around Lake Tahoe, and a Rubicon Trail hike at Emerald Bay) coming soon.