Towns have identities. Some towns, like my hometown, struggle to decide what their identity is, or try to change it. Some embrace what they are: a college town, a company town, a working-class town, a tourist town, a bedroom community.

Bridgeport, CA has a year-round population of about 860. Situated on the eastern side of the Sierras, on major highway, US 395, it has a reservoir and an airstrip, and it is the gateway to the state park that encompasses Bodie, California’s most famous ghost town.

Bridgeport is also the Mono County seat, with a courthouse, adult and juvenile detention facilities, and a public library. It has a great museum. In talking to the locals, I wondered if the museum seemed wonderful mostly because the day we were there we had a wonderful docent. Hard to tell–still worth a visit, and it’s free.

Our first morning there we trooped downstairs. Linda said to the young woman working, “Is there a good place for breakfast? Or is this a good place?” (mostly to be polite, I think.)

The clerk said, “This is the only place for breakfast.”

And dinner. And probably lunch, although the Jolly Kone across the street was open and it looked like they offered burgers and hot dogs. We thought one other restaurant was open but it looked iffy and we never confirmed that. The Bridgeport Inn dining room was popular, let’s just say that.

Bridgeport Inn, established 1877
Bridgeport Inn, established 1877.

The Jolly Kone signs seems to offer hot dogs, burritos, ice cream and massage, but in fact the massage parlor is deeper into the parking lot, next to the deli.

Jolly Kone across the street.
Jolly Kone across the street.

Back in the brief golden window of May, when vaccinations were booming and we thought Covid was on the run, we considered staying at the Bodie Victorian Hotel, also in Bridgeport. Ultimately, the reviews made it sound very noisy, so we opted from the Inn. And a good thing–the Bodie Hotel is closed, but up for sale.

The Bridgeport Inn will close the end of September, reopening in late April or early May, dependent mostly on when the passes open. I don’t know what this means for the county employees who work in Bridgeport– guess most of the brownbag it, or plan to drive have an hour south to Lee Vining, where some things might still be open.

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