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Bodie: Is Anyone Home?

Details: Bodie, Calif.

GETTING THERE: Bodie State Historic Park is about 100 miles south of Lake Tahoe. The closest major airport is in Reno, Nev. From Washington, American, Delta and United, among others, offer connecting service starting at $225 round trip.

Bodie sits at the end of a 12-mile road heading east off U.S. Route 395. You can't drive into town, but there is a parking lot near the center of town. In winter, even four-wheel-drive vehicles get stuck in snowdrifts, and on some days visitors arrive by snowmobile and cross-country skis.

Bodie State Historic Park hosts photo workshops that focus on such well-preserved buildings as Odd Fellows Lodge. (Gary Anthes)

THE TOWN:Bodie State Historic Park is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $3 per person. There is limited drinking water and no food. Smoking is not allowed.

The only way to really see and photograph the building interiors is to sign up for a workshop run by a photographer approved by California State Parks (see below). If you can't make a workshop but want to photograph Bodie's exteriors when the light looks as if it's shining right out of the 19th century, you can come on the third Saturday of every month, May through October, when the town is open a half-hour before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.

WHERE TO STAY: The closest town is Bridgeport, Calif., 20 miles northwest of Bodie on Route 395. A better bet is Lee Vining, Calif., 30 miles southwest on the edge of Mono Lake. There are a handful of modest accommodations there, but the place to stay from mid-April until the end of October is the historic Tioga Lodge (two miles north of Lee Vining on Route 395, 888-647-6423, www.tiogalodge.com), an unassuming resort with cabins by the highway and nice views of the lake. Rooms are $58 to $107 a night, including continental breakfast. The registration building and restaurant were moved there from Bodie in 1897.

WHERE TO EAT: The Whoa Nelli Deli, hidden inside the Tioga (Mobil) Gas Mart at the intersection of routes 395 and 120 west in Lee Vining, is funky, fast and has great food. Try the "legendary lobster taquitos" with pineapple salsa ($9) or the St. Louis barbecue ribs with huckleberry barbecue sauce ($15) and the local beers. Closed November through April.

PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS: There is no complete and official list of the half-dozen or so photographers approved to conduct workshops inside Bodie's buildings. Some are occasionally listed at www.bodie.net/cal, and rangers at Bodie are happy to take inquiries about upcoming workshops at 760-647-6445.

Noella Ballenger (www.noellaballenger.com) charges $380 for her workshops (not including food, lodging or supplies), which includes two days at Bodie (mostly indoors) and two days elsewhere in the Eastern Sierra area. A substantial portion of workshop fees goes to the Friends of Bodie.

INFO: Bodie State Historic Park, 760-647-6445, www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509.

-- Gary Anthes

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© 2005 The Washington Post Company


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