September 2008 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts











Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles




Click on the 4Runner or contact us at for tour information.


LOGO T Shirts Available


Explore Historic California with our tour logo depicting the California backcountry and its rich history both true and farce.

We now offer shirts, sweats, jerseys and cups with our logo.

Click the shirt for details!


Friends of Last Chance Canyon is a new organization interested in sustaining and protecting areas within the El Paso Mountains, near Ridgecrest, California. The main focus is preserving and protecting historic sites like Burro Schmidt's tunnel and the Walt Bickel Camp.

Please click on either logo to visit the FLCC site.


We support


Support Room 8's charitable legacy by donating to the Room 8 Memorial Cat Foundation or adopting one of their cats.

Click on Room 8's photo or phone

951-361-2205 for more information.



Mules can taste the difference--so can you




It's always FIRE SEASON! Click the NIFC logo above to see what's burning.



Click on the bag to find out how.

The #1 Source for Desert News Now Has A Forum.  Come Chat!

Visit Michael Piatt's site,, for the truth behind some of Bodie's myths.

Terri Geissinger is a Bodie area Historian, Guide and Chautauquan. A long time resident who lives in Bodie and Smith Valley, she is dedicated to preserving stories of the pioneer families, miners, ranchers and teamsters. Click the photo to visit her site.


Back to the past in California City--Wimpy's!

8209 California City Blvd.,
California City, 93505



Explore Historic California!

     Not too many years ago, the family station wagon was the magic carpet to adventure. Today, that family station wagon is likely to be a four wheel drive sport utility vehicle or pick up truck. SUV's and other 4x4's are one of the best selling classes of vehicles. Ironically, industry statistics show that once purchased, few owners will dare to drive their vehicles off the paved highway.

     Click your mouse through the website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them. If you are interested in taking one of our guided tours with your vehicle, please contact us at:

     Several years ago, we bought our first SUV. We went to a one-night class at a local community college entitled "How to 4-Wheel Drive" by Harry Lewellyn. The following weekend we attended the hands-on day tour. We liked what we were doing so much that we began going out nearly every weekend and learned how to negotiate a variety of dirt roads. Our spare time was spent doing research on the history and ecology of our favorite areas. A one-day outing turned into 16 years of leading others on mini-vacations throughout Southern California and the Owens Valley.

     Our 4WD outings involve driving on easy to moderate dirt roads and are ideally suited to novice and intermediate level drivers. All tours are suitable for stock vehicles in good condition, although some tours do have vehicle size restrictions.

     Our tours are operated under permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management, and other authorities.

     We share our knowledge of the backcountry over the CB radio with our guests. We frequently stop to explore mining areas, old and new, and ponder the rocks, plants and animals we may encounter. We'll occasionally visit an old cabin or deserted mountain lookout.

     California has a fascinating history, from geologic unrest and prehistoric petroglyph scribes to the "Radium Queen of the Mojave" and the "Human Mole of Black Mountain." Load up your 4X, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to explore historic California.

Roger, Cecile and Marty

Friends of  Bodie 2008

Photography by Roger Vargo

Bodie gets dressed up for it's first parade in 70 years.

Riders (below) exercise their mounts.

Costumed participants begin arriving in Bodie.

As visitors arrive, parking spaces become as scarce as trees in Bodie.

Marines from Pickle Meadows (near Bridgeport) carry the colors to begin the parade.

A flood of "horribles" leads the marching contingent (top and below), followed by a cluster of Clampers (bottom).

Alice Dolan (wearing the blue Bodie hat at right) is the Grand Marshal. She is a former Bodie school teacher.

Mule and horsepower were the primary modes of locomotion during the parade.

Dr. Israel Good hawks patent medicine. Apparently his cure for low libido is effective as attested to by the ladies escorting a purchaser.

Cecile loans her boa to a Marine as a good luck charm in the pie eating contest.


Time to unwind as the band plucks some dancing music as dusk sets on Bodie.

Staff and volunteers pose for a group photo at the end of a long day.


Panamint Valley Goes to Bodie

(and a few other places, too)
by Cecile Page Vargo

Day 1

On the morning of August 2, Roger and I left our rental condo in Mammoth Lakes for Lee Vining and the Mono Basin Forest Service Visitor Center. We based ourselves in the parking lot, and waited as one by one our group from arrived. Panamint Charlie, his two sons, Wild Bill and his wife Barb, Ghosttown, Loner and his brother, and Desert4wd

Ooops!  Where's Doug? Are you back there somewhere? Ok. there you are let's head 'em out!!!

Where's Doug?

After making new acquaintances and renewing a few old ones we were finally on our way. First stop. Jordan, California.

I looked over Jordan and what did I see

Coming for to carry me home..

An avalanche coming after me.

Coming for to carry me home..

Looking over Jordan.

On March 7, 1911 the relatively new Jordan Power Plant at the base of Copper Mountain was completely destroyed by an avalanche. The power generated from the plant kept the mining town of Bodie in electricity until its sudden demise during late winter snowstorms. Ruins remain today for the explorers to ponder over in the new millennium. The cemetery in the distance stands as a haunting reminder of the scope of the disaster.

"Hey, Barb, Is that Doug at the highway?  Oops. I think he went to the wrong power plant!"

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