Let me begin by saying that Ruth & I really, really liked Bishop, CA, but I knew I would. Many years ago a man named Bob told me about Bishop, so I knew I would like this town. Bob was an avid traveler, but his wife Judy, Ruth’s cousin and sister-like, bag-packing companion, was even more of a traveler. Bob, a Missouri boy who still lives there, had a sister who moved to California and loved it. Judy and Bob would often fill their camper in the summer and head for The Golden State to visit her and look around. That’s when he discovered and told me about Bishop. I have always wondered why he liked it so much. Now I know.
Although it is small, Bishop has everything a traveler would like and need. First of all, it’s in a beautiful setting at the north end of the Owens Valley between 2 flamboyant mountain ranges. Secondly, there are no other towns close to it for cold comparison. It’s one of those towns that has something for everyone including a great place to dine. However, its main function seems to be outfitting the athletic. Its complete charm means that Bishop is destined to change.
Our motel was next door to Bishop’s Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Center and across the street from the great place to dine. We spent a lot of time in the visitor center because of Joe. Joe has worked there for 40 years without losing his enthusiasm for helping people. While we chatted about things to do, a woman came in looking for a replacement shirt for her husband touting bishop’s grandness. Joe set a world record for putting exactly what she wanted in her hands. He gave us a lot of ideas for things to do. The main one, as it turned out, had to do with buttermilk.
We went directly from the visitor’s center to the great place to dine and then on to one of his recommendations. We already knew about the great place to dine because the day before we were in Susanville and one woman we talked to suggested we eat at Erick Schat’s Bakkery while in Bishop. Joe’s main recommendation didn’t sound all that interesting, but it turned out to be just that. Joe put a lot of X’s on a map of Bishop and its surroundings that gave the location of many historical signs. Joe said rather dreamily that he wished someone would take the trouble to track down some of these markers put up by the State of California. Somehow, he knew that I was the type of person who would do just that.
The 2nd sign that we saw told the following story. It was at the beginning of Buttermilk Road, a busy thoroughfare that went through a gate and up into the mountains. The original Buttermilk Road built at the beginning of the 20th century brought miners and supplies up to the Wilshire Mine. The sign did not report what the Wilshire provided so I had to look it up. The Wilshire, also called The Cardinal, provided rare, Eastern Sierra gold. This mine produced about $1,600,000 worth of the shiny stuff and made a profit, but it was also the source of silver and copper. It is now a resort area where a modest ghost town prospers. Some of that town named Cardinal’s cabins have been restored and are now used by guests at a resort, hence the traffic on Buttermilk Road. However, 7 miles up it was also the Wells Dairy Ranch. Wilshire miners would often stop by this ranch for a refreshing glass of buttermilk.
So see Bishop and the Wilshire mine, dine at the Erick Shat’s Bakkery, and learn more about Bishop another day.