I sometimes drive to Los Angeles to audition for various shows, and every time I make the drive to and from my home, I pass an exit near Barstow, California called Ghost Town Road. There are billboards going both ways advertising the ghost town of Calico, a ghost town that was founded in 1881 as a silver mining town and completely died down in 1907.
Anyway, every time I pass the signs advertising this ghost town, I want to check it out. However, I'm usually in a rush to either get to L.A. for my auditions or to get back home, so I never stop.
Yesterday morning I had an audition for Mamma Mia. The audition itself didn't go as well as I would have liked, but them's the breaks, ain't they?
In any case, I got out of L.A. quite early, and as I was driving, I thought to myself, "Today's the day. I am going to check out this ghost town." I called Jonah, who was still back home, and told him I wouldn't get home until later because I was going to check out the town.
The town itself is only three miles off the freeway, so it wasn't too far to get to. I had no idea what to expect. In my mind, I didn't necessarily picture the town as a big tourist attraction, but more as the lonely remnants of a town that once existed. It actually turned out to be more the former than the latter.
It cost $6 to get in, which seemed reasonable enough. It turns out that most of the town has been replicated from photos of its original structures, so there aren't that many buildings that are actually the original buildings (and even less, I found out, since a fire in 2001 took out some of the original structures); but, still, there are some original buildings (five, I think).
I discovered that 1951, Walter Knott (the founder of Knott's Berry Farm Amusement Park in Anahiem) bought the town and restored it to its original condition using old photographs of the town. In most cases, replica building were built on the foundations of the original buildings.
Still, even if a lot of it was just replicated, it was still a lot of fun. And it was such a nice day (sunny with a bit of a breeze - lovely!). The town was filled with shops, a museum, and some cheesy attractions (such as panning for fake gold, going through a mine, and a train ride). But it was very enjoyable, and I spent a good hour and a half there.
I bought some horehound candy (which I've had before and quite like (Jonah is not a fan)) and walked around the town. There was a cool replica of the original schoolhouse. I talked to one lady who gave me quite an interesting history lesson about the town and some of its inhabitants (its last original resident died in the 1967, but she had lived in the town from the age of ten; left in 1899; and then returned in 1916 when the town was a true ghost town and still lived there when the town was turned into a tourist attraction and often shared stories from when she lived there as a little girl. I thought that must have been quite marvelous to hear a firsthand account of life in a mining town in the late 1800s.
I helped the proprietor of a store that sold wooden items, including puzzles, solve a puzzle a friend of hers had given her. She was so frustrated by it, but I saw the solution pretty quickly, and she was so grateful I had figured it out for her that she gave me a free item called an "idiot box." I thought that was nice of her.
A ranger was giving tours and pointing out interesting sites. There was also a really nice scenic point that overlooked the whole town. It was really interesting and a lot of fun, and I was so glad I had finally taken the time to do it. My only regret was that Jonah wasn't with me. I think he would have enjoyed it, too.
Sometimes you just gotta take a diversion. This one was worth it to me. I had a very fun day.