Places Like This - Bandit Town, Yosemite
Ever find yourself in a rut for some unknown reason & you can't seem to shake it off? Don't stay stuck in the mud, instead recall what makes your feel free and alive. For some that's a jump in the crisp ocean to feel revived, a solo back-packing trip to feel disconnected, a fresh bouquet of flowers to feel loved. Whatever brings you life chase after that wholeheartedly, especially on days when you feel funky. When our gal, Lindsay Perry, finds herself in a creative rut she pursues the one thing that without fail excites and centers her - adventure. Travel along with Lindsay by reading below to hear more about her solo adventure...
A couple of weeks ago, I woke with a slight feeling of emptiness … I suppose as a creative, this is bound to happen from time to time. Unsure of the reasoning for this, I decided to do the very thing that I know always gets me back to my center.. Travel. I packed a small weekend bag, camera, my guitar and got on the road. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m pretty notorious for never having a set travel plan.. It’s just not in my DNA, I guess. Heck, I’m not even good at letting my whereabouts be known to most anyone, even some of the time ;)
With my unsettling urge to explore, I headed north on the 5 with no specific destination in mind. I then recalled a little eclectic place, a friend of mine recently mentioned, 35 miles south east of Yosemite called Bandit Town— Wind in my hair, music blasting, and the open road… “freedom in this feeling”, i thought. I arrived in North Fork (the sister town of Bandit) around 4pm or so and decided to check out the scene. Nestled in the outskirts of Oakhurst, CA., with a population of less than 3,000, minimal cell phone service, and 2 main roads.. you’ve got the entire place dialed in an hour.. But there’s something so alluring about it that you can’t help but miss it when you leave. I strongly believe in being exactly where i’m supposed to be, at all times.. And for this particular need to seek out what i wasn’t even sure i was looking for, I knew this was the place.
As the sun began to set, I realized I hadn’t made any lodging accommodations.. This isn’t abnormal for me, but in hindsight, I could have probably planned a little more accordingly. Because of the holiday weekend, there was minimal lodging availability within a 30 mile radius.. So I got creative. I’ve always been curious about Hostels here in America, but I had yet to find an opportunity to try one out.Just over 2 hours north west of Bandit Town, I found the Yosemite International Hostel. I drove through the dark, winding roads, with hopes of not getting lost. I checked in to my room, shared with 7 other foreign travelers.. tucked my bag close by and got right to sleep.
The following morning I headed for the Yosemite North Entrance. This was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever had the pleasure of witnessing — Sequoia trees so big you could only read about in children’s books and a smell that made you feel instantly at peace… I took my time.. taking in all that I saw, truly appreciating what was in front of me. This is what I was searching for.. this is what I was missing.
Well over 100 miles later, I made my way down south, circling back towards Bandit Town; where I met Jen McMillan, the owner/founder of the once abandoned space, formerly known as “Old Town”. As I looked around, mostly in awe of the aesthetic inspiration, i then wondered what the earlier days here were like.. She explained to me how she acquired [it] and then gave me a tour around the property.. One pig, a couple of dogs, a handful of horses, and a few goats also reside here in Bandit Town.. The vast feeling of family is very evident in this group of folks.. Instantly welcoming me into their home, I once again had the feeling of being where I was supposed to be at very moment.
Saturday afternoon, friends of the Bandit Town crew began to fill the 11.5 acre space in celebration of their “Take it Easy” Labor Day weekend event. The music selection included the likes of Miss Lonely Hearts, Chris Porter and my personal favorite, Hayley Thompson-King. We danced and drank into the early hours of Sunday morning and I could still hear the sounds of laughter and jam sessions being had well after.
The next afternoon, I gathered my things, said my goodbyes and got on the road. Made one quick stop at the Fasi Estate Winery, and continued my journey back home.
To say that this trip was a well needed exploration of something I would have otherwise never-known, would be an understatement. It’s always crucial to recharge, reset and get the creative juices flowing. I’m always down for an impromptu adventure and last minute travel plans. Live while you’re young, I say. ;)
Key places: If you do plan on visiting Bandit Town, check out the website before, as they are not open other than events. www.banditbrand.com/events — camping on site is available during these times 55420 ROAD 226, NORTH FORK, CA 93643 Oakhurst, CA is the go-to for most Yosemite bound travelers. Here you’ll find the standard hotel accommodations (i.e., Best Western, etc.) If you’re interested in getting adventurous, the hostel I stayed at was Yosemite International Hostel 18605 Main St, Groveland, CA If you find yourself in the area of North Fork, be sure to check out Slim’s Koffee Shak 33013 Rd 222, North Fork, CA 93643 Buckhorn Saloon and Restaurant 32992 Rd 222, North Fork, CA 93643 The Dirty Donkey Tavern 40487 CA-41, Oakhurst, CA 93644 (ask for Jackie, she’s the owner and is beyond amazing) Fast Estate Winery 42415 Rd 208, Friant, CA 93626