So I touched on this briefly last post...the fabled trip to Bodie 2.0. After the failure of last year, intrepid explorer Matt and myself headed out into the high sierras to find the historic ghost town of Bodie.

After putting the Mustang through its paces (that car has POWER) and spending the night in a hotel with a lady who seemed to be permanently high...

...we made it to the end of the road. However Bodie was still about 6 miles away. Separating us from the goal was possibly the worlds bumpiest dirt track. I can only assume it was kept in the same state of arrested decay as the town. Every really slow vehicle we had sped past on the way now caught up and over took us. Note to travellers: Sports cars are not the cars to travel to Bodie in.

After a short while of bone shaking, we finally saw what we had come for...a town described by all the tourist guides as "in a state of arrested decay"...basically no one has lived there since the forties and all the buildings are still the same, with most of them dating to the 1880's.

And it's true! In the old saloon there are still chips on the table from the last game of poker played there. It's like everyone just got up and left. In the morning before I started sketching I waited by the church for the ranger to give his daily speech about the history of Bodie. Turns out that the man whom the town is named after is W.S Bodey...which is an alternate spelling of my surname (Boddy) and both derive from the same, although the former is pronounced Boe-dee not Body, which is why they changed the spelling of the town so that people didn't mis-pronounce it...much like many do with my last name. Unfortunately for him, he was never able to see the town that bears his namesake. Legend has it (actually this is pretty accurate...it just sounds better starting "Legend has it") that he decided to brave the winter on his claim but upon returning from collecting supplies in the nearby town of Mono, one days walk that way, Bodey and his partner found themselves lost on the way back to the cabin. A storm set in and conditions became blinding. The pair wandered aimlessly (in a kind of "Hmmm. I recognise this tree...WE'RE GOING IN CIRCLES" way) for hours until Bodey, his energy sapped, fell to the snow. His partner wrapped him in a blanket and vowed to come back for him once he found the cabin. After more fruitless searching (it's the same bloody tree!) he decided to go back to Mono. Bodey was claimed by the storm. They found his body in the spring after the snow had melted...300 yards from the cabin. Then they began digging and found millions of dollars of gold.

But that's not all they found. Nope. They also found...

...an awesome place for sketching.

I spent a good few hours wandering around. A particular highlight was the stroll down Maiden Lane and Virgin Alley in the old wild end of town. Except it all burned down in a fire so, essentially, I was wandering through a field of grass where many people once had sex.
If you are interested in seeing more sketches of Bodie, you should probably head over to the blog of Mr. Jones. He made some enjoyable observations of the other history tourists.

Right before we started the drive back to San Francisco, a lightning storm kicked off. It was at this point in the day that we witnessed an event...nay...a miracle. I call it "THE MOSES MOMENT"

Now this wasn't the only event of what was to prove an epic return leg. One especially memorable moment happened when we were driving the Tioga trail through Yosemite...

I wish I could draw the next one but it involved one horse doing something to another horse and the line "look at the size of that thing". I think it's best left to people imaginations.

And I'd also prefer to never be stuck in a car with 17 miles to go until the next Carl's Jr...only to miss it and have to drive another 6 miles. I didn't know what Carl's Jr was. It was the person in the passenger seat doing the "I can't believe you missed it! Your GPS is crap. I'm using my iPhone to find it...go left here". I didn't miss the next one and was rewarded with the biggest cup (bucket) of Coca-Cola ever.

Anyway, I'm starting to natter on a bit so I'll wrap in up. In conclusion - Bodie = cool, Trees = fire, Mountain Lions = Danger and Carl's Jr = Heart attack in five years.


Back to the Bay

Hello blog.

It's been a topsy turvy few months recently which has seen me go home to Hong Kong and also back in the US...exciting stuff and a welcome break after 15 months with no time off...except 3 days at Christmas...and the the odd bank hol. As a result my Xbox live gamerscore has remained static.

Top Left: The Village Gates
Top Right: Queens Road, Central
Left: The Bank of China
Middle Right: The HSBC through the Botanical Gdns
Bottom Right: Small Bamboo, Big Bamboo

Anyway...the US. I made a return journey to the west coast, determined to conquer the Pacific Coast Highway (Damn you Cruickshank Trail landslide of 2011!) and not only conquer it but do so in style. So I hired a Ford Mustang convertible and set the road straight. Ash = 1, PCH...also = 1.


This time around I used San Francisco as my base of operations and toured around from there. Napa was interesting...nice drive but you can't sample the wine. However, I did find a rather entertaining hen party at the Hess Gallery and vineyard. That kind of made up for a spectacular breakdown in communications. Warning to travellers to the US. You will be able to text people but no one will be able to text you back...or even call you.

After failing to make the trip to Bodie last time due to 8ft snowdrifts, (Damn you summer snows!) I attempted the journey again. WIth fellow expat Matt Jones in tow we managed to avoid any miraculously unseasonal snowfall...although there were some other miracles on said journey...but that's another story. Anyway...Ash = 1, Bodie...again, also = 1.

I also did a whistle stop trip to LA to catchup with people down there. I noticed some particularly interesting human behaviour around Hollywood Blvd (Highly recommend driving down it with the roof down and music on LOUD...SoaD "Lost in Hollywood" was an apt choice) where it appears a number of the populous take photographs of their feet and also kneel down to place their hands on the concrete whilst friends take pictures of them in said prostrate position.

Various Folk

The phrase "Only in America" springs to mind. On a serious note, the Getty has a Klimt exhibition on at the moment. Excellent and if anyone finds themselves out that way, definitely worth a visit. Oh...I also stayed at a lovely Hotel located near Third and Alvarado. Only after I checked in did I figure out I was in the middle of "The Rampart"...a lovely neighbourhood that amongst other achievements, was once able to boast a higher murder rate per 100,000 than Johannesburg or Sao Paulo! And I survived! Ash = 1, Rampart = 0! I win! And the view of downtown was excellent as were the complimentary donuts for breakfast.

Top Left: View of downtown from "Rampart"
Bottom Left: Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Right: The Roosevelt on Hollywood Blvd

After LA it was back to San Francisco and the delights that the city has to offer including (but not limited to) Breakfast at a diner; Dinner at a diner; Lunch at a Diner; Lobster where the Rat Pack used to eat lobster; Drinks in an old colonial french indochina setting; Drinks at a historical hotel bar on Nob hill; Drinks at Dave's flat up a really, really steep hill; Batman in IMAX; A really winding street; the realisation that Fisherman's Wharf is a lot further from where I had parked than I initially thought; Freezing up the top of Twin Peaks and still not being able to see the eye of Sauron...but I did get to see the famous San Francisco fog; Drinking in a cage; Mitchell's - The best Ice Cream in the city; Drinking in a Troll bar...uh...seeing a movie at the Castro theatre...and a host of other things. Now all I have to do is find a way to score a job out there...any American females fancy a Brit for a husband?
Top: Haight Ashbury
Middle: Fisherman's Wharf
Bottom: A lovely view of the Golden Gate bridge from Buena Vista Park...obscured
by tourists. Did you know "Facebook like" is the same in every language?