I felt like a voyeur; peering through the old glass I could see a broken chair, layers of peeling wallpaper, a torn floorboard, a washing basin, and a child's coat hung on a nail in the wall. It was early spring, and the chilly desert wind flung dust and whipped through Bodie's creaking buildings.
Once a booming Gold Rush town, Bodie's population declined and eventually abandoned it in the early 20th century. Now a protected State Park, you can venture into Bodie by car in the non-winter months. My friend and I drove in from San Francisco, crossing the Sierras and admiring stunning views of the mountains and little towns straddling California and Nevada.
What is amazing about Bodie is how it remains so well-preserved. You can walk through an old "wild west" town that once held a population of about 5000, and now all that remains are the structures and artifacts left behind. There is a general store, mining factory, hotel, sports club for men, bar, church, school house, barns, and many family homes. The general store is still chock full of goods unsold, the school house still has arithmetic on its chalk boards, and bottles of beer sit, collecting dust on top of the bar. It all seems as if the last remaining occupants left the town in haste, with no time to pack.
Be sure to arrive early; the park closes at 3pm. The last stretch of drive is isolated and a good portion of it is unpaved. So be sure you have a full tank of gas and that your tires in good condition.