Mike Chowla
Western USA:

Eastern Sierra

On the other side of the Sierra from the Yosemite Valley and with many fewer tourists is the Eastern Sierra. The altitude is high and the terrain is rugged. The area is full of great locations to visit. This visit I went up a dirt road to 11,000 feet to see the ancient bristlecone pine trees at Patriarch Grove in the the Inyo National Forest. Bristlecone pines are the oldest living things on earth and some live for 5000 years. They live at high altitude in conditions too adverse for other trees.

I also made a return visit to Bodie State Historic Park. Bodie is one of the biggest and best preserved ghost towns even though a only about a quarter of it remains. Bodie was infamous for being a lawless mining town that was full of drinking, gambling, and prostitution. The pay was high for the miners and being stuck in a remote location they spent it on the available sins. This visit, I took the tour the Stamp Mill which gives a good overview of the how mining operations worked by crushing ore and then extracting the gold and silver. There will multiple mills and most were unprofitable. The one still standing was one the last mills built and its metal siding protected it from the fires that destroyed 75% of Bodie.

After Bodie, I drove the last 250 miles to home. After 2 weeks on the road, it was good to back but I knew I would soon miss the sense of adventure that being on the road provided.