The gold rush ghost town

Bodie, California lies at the end of a three mile dirt track. The first time we tried to visit, Bodie was cut off by wildfires, so we headed off to Yosemite instead. Persevering, we came back a couple of days later on a beautiful, sunny August day with one of those expansive skies you seem to get all too easily in this part of the US.

The town began as a mining camp during the 1850s gold rush. By 1880 it was a booming wild west gold mining town with over sixty saloons along its mile long main street. Over the years the town had a hydroelectric power plant and a railway.

After the frenetic years of the gold rush, the town gradually declined with the last locally produced newspaper being printed in 1912 and the last gold mine closing in 1942.

The area has now been designated a National Historic Landmark becoming Bodie State Historic Park in 1962. Over a hundred buildings are still left standing. Although this is only a small percentage of the town at its height, the park is a fascinating trip back in time with several ancient automobiles and houses and businesses with interiors stocked with goods and furniture just as they were left.

Details: Bodie Ghost Town

An unknown soldier…

The Arc de Triomphe is a triumphal arch inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus but at 50 metres high is considerably larger. It stands at the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle and is a key focus for national events.

Originally conceived by Napoleon to honour the dead of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, the arch, designed in 1806, was not completed until 1836.

The four main sculptural groups depict events between 1792 and 1815. Inscriptions on the arch list major French victories in the French Revolution and Napoleonic War. The arch also lists the names of 660 people, most of them generals, who fought in these campaigns. The underlining of some names signifies the death of that person in battle.

After the end of the First World War, the arch was chosen to be the symbolic resting place of the Unknown Soldier, a representative of all those soldiers who had died during the conflict but whose final resting place could not be identified.

A constantly burning, eternal flame burns at the base of the arch.

The Bastille Day parades on July 14th every year involve a military parade along the Champs Elysee past the Arc de Triomphe, aircraft flying above and wreaths laid at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the base of the arch. Originally, victory processions would have passed through the arch, but, since the interment of the Unknown Soldier underneath the arch, parades have been rerouted around the arch.

A viewing platform at the top of the arch provides splendid views over Paris, particularly along the Axe Historique.

Details: Arc de Triomphe