From ghost town Bodie I headed north on 395 toward the Sonora Junction, from where I continued west on the beautiful 108 through hours of nothing but absolutely perfect mountain topography.
Thick green forests shot up over the two lane serpentine hiding the titanic mountains behind them, melting snow feeding into the raging rivers bellow the steep Sonora Pass which allows no room for error. This perfect slither of asphalt remains one of my most favorite and memorable riding experiences. It took me hours to get through it due to my urge to stop often to take pictures and enjoy the sights. Those were some amazing curves that would have been incredibly enjoyable to race through but their awesome beauty made me want to take it in slowly. Stopping to snap a quick photo at a gravel pullout I lost my footing and laid the bike down, but the picture was worth the annoying inconvenience. There are primitive campgrounds every few miles so if ever you need an idea for a camping trip, just hit highway 108 (but don’t forget that this is bear country).
My destination was a small place called Jackson, an old mining town settled originaly by immigrant workers, a large portion of whom came form the former Yugoslavia. They lived, worked and died in these mines, filling the in-proportionately large cemetery surrounding the small orthodox church overlooking the town, the very first Serbian church in the Americas. Every year for the 4th of July weekend Yugos gather here in celebration, and I was invited to participate by a wonderful Serbian girl named Petra whom I haven’t had even met in person yet.
That whole weekend was filled with good fun, good food and good company. I took the time to wash all my gear which by now was filthier then C. K. Lewis’ mind, and the chill-out sessions by the pool during the sweltering heat of the day were exactly what I was needing. We ate, we danced and we were merry for those three days, but finally it was time to say good bye to my new lovely friends Petra, Ljubinka, Jelena and the others, and continue on the journey. They left Sunday afternoon and I decided to take an hour more and use the internet in the room to plan my next move.
One hour turned into two, and then into three, so I decided to stay an extra night; And a welcome night it was let me tell you, in the comforts of a soft bed (off of the ground) with pillows and clean sheets, a flushing toilet fit for Zeus and silky-soft tissue paper and towels; a shower with hot water big enough to lay in, electricity to charge my electronics and an amazing little switch on the wall by the door that made the dark disappear in milliseconds – (coincidentally, all this atomic luxury thanks to a Yugo genius whose name I bear).
“it was a scene straight from the movie Borat – I too was prancing about the room butt-naked singing – King of the castle, king of the castle“
I woke up extra early and refreshed, and Best Western was nice enough to provide one more morning of kick-ass complimentary breakfast – waffles and eggs and all – so after a few leisurely hours at the pool now deprived of the loud Serbian crowd that up until yesterday besieged the hotel, I decided it really was time to leave. But in my intoxicated blur of the past few days I had lost track of the date. It wasn’t until the receptionist asked me what my plans for the day were that I realized it was in fact July the 4th. So naturally this was reason enough for me to stay one more day; after all it didn’t make sense to leave hastily and not enjoy the show. Besides, it would be offensive to the founding fathers! (also, another morning of eggs and waffles were sufficient reasons in themselves).
So I spent the rest of the day catching up online, visiting the small church and washing my clothes at the town laundromat – a major pain in the muffler by the way. That evening the town had organized a very modest fireworks show so I went to the park to enjoy. There, I took some great shots, experimenting with long exposure which produced some very interesting images (look in the July folder below). And that is how I spent my 4th of July.
Thank you Best Western for your unmatched hospitality, and thank you Petra and Ljubinka for your sweetness.
Finally on Tuesday (after a hardy breakfast of course) I decided to leave Jackson and head toward lake Tahoe. But little did I know that fate would have other plans, and what awaited was a situation that almost threatened the whole project……