At Yellowstone Valley Inn, Cody, Wyoming...
I considered making this one long post, but thought better of it when I remembered some of the tiresome blogs I have read that are really nothing but photo scrapbooks that may mean something to the author but little to the readers. I have a lot of photos to show you, but I think you would like to read some narrative along with them that will tell some kind of story or at least offer my impressions of the photos. My wordy narrative takes up a good bit of extra space, so I'm going to have to break this, the northernmost part of our journey, into two or three posts.
While I'm thinking about it, please permit me a little more ranting about what, in my view, makes an interesting blog post. I am constantly on the lookout for RV blogs that meet the vitally important criterion of telling a story that holds my interest. Unfortunately, there aren't very many that pass that test and make it into my reading list. If the writer tells me what he or she is thinking and feeling about the place or person represented by a photo, I will be much more likely to be hooked than if it is just tossed in with a bunch of other unidentified photos. So, this is my advice to bloggers: Write your posts as though you are talking to a friend, telling your story and adding your opinions, thoughts and, especially, a bit of humor as you go along. Let your readers get to know you, and they will develop more interest in your experiences. A good example of a blogger whose posts are like short stories that are hard to put down is my cyber friend, Mary, of Reflections Around the Campfire. There are others, of course, but Mary and I have an ongoing shaming rivalry that kicks in if we discover mistakes in each other's posts. Yes, it's a bit nerdy, but being grammar- or punctuation-shamed is sheer misery for us word nerds.
Okay, that's about enough lecturing about blog writing. Let's continue with our story of leaving Denver to meet up again with friends Larry and Carolyn in Cody, Wyoming. We stopped overnight in Casper, Wyoming at an unremarkable KOA that was, basically, just several acres of gravel, but the staff was friendly enough. This was a single overnight stop, so we tend to leave Phannie buttoned up to the greatest extent possible, so as to facilitate our departure the next morning. We don't put all the slides out or hook up to the sewer; we don't put the jacks down, either, unless necessary. We sometimes leave Mae hooked up, if we have something simple to eat for dinner that doesn't mess up the kitchen. On such occasions, we just eat in, watch a little TV and turn in for the night.
However, on this stopover, we had no such edibles within easy access, so we unhooked Mae and went out foraging for food--using Yelp, primarily, for its recommendations. We found a gem in the beautiful Fire Rock Steakhouse, which was sufficiently impressive to be honored on the blog's favorite restaurants page. We shared a steak dinner--something we most often do these days. We tend not to eat as much nowadays as we've gotten older. It's cheaper on the budget, and we almost always have more than enough to eat.
The next day's trip to Cody was uneventful, except we began to anticipate again the first sighting of the Rocky Mountains that we had left behind soon after passing from Colorado into Wyoming. The peaks of the Absaroka Range of the Rockies were barely visible at first and then loomed larger as we approached Cody. Our impression of Wyoming up until that time was rather, uh, unimpressive.
Never having visited before, we confess to knowing little about Cody, Wyoming nor the character "Buffalo Bill" Cody, who founded the town. It's actually a very pretty and clean place with very wide streets, beautiful parks and chock full of museums and reminders of its history. It was, indeed, emblematic of the wild, wild west, complete with the struggles between newcomers and Indians, the lawful and the lawless, and the debauchery of every kind that was intermingled in the melee. Wyoming's history and Cody's part in it sort of made my native Texas look tame by comparison. The town of 10,000 is nestled against Cedar Mountain, visible in the following photo. It has one main drag, Sheridan Avenue, fronted by scores of modernized old buildings and containing hordes of visitors--a half million a year, if you're wondering.
This was our view looking back to the east toward Cody:
The mountain in the middle above is the same one you saw previously that had the piece broken away. We were glad when Larry and Carolyn showed up; much like other good friends, they are great traveling partners; it is the practice of both of us couples to decide what we wish to do each day and, if it sounds mutually interesting, we go together; if not, we do our own thing. It's an easy-going way to travel together--maximum honesty and minimal pressure. We could say the same about other wonderful RVing friends, and we wished they were all with us!
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Buffalo Bill Cody, obviously, is a big deal here in the town that bears his name. I must confess that I was about as ignorant of his incredible life story that anyone could be. This is partly because I have never been terribly interested in the "cowboy and Indian" aspect of our country's history. My focus has mainly been in the World War II era, perhaps because my father and most of my uncles served in that conflict. That may have been a little short-sighted, as I seem to have a regrettable knowledge deficit about this colorful and important part of our nation's history--the taming of the West and the associated fierce struggles involved. All you would want to experience of this time period is brought to light in this little western town of 10,000, rightly named the "rodeo capital of the world," due to its having a rodeo--believe it or not--every night of the year:
Although you can easily obtain his life story from the Internet, it is safe to say that Buffalo Bill Cody lived a varied and exciting existence, achieving recognition for his bravery and skill in hunting, scouting and fighting that led to his service to the U. S. Army as a scout and hunter of buffalo (some 4,300 killed, it is said) to help feed the troops during the Indian wars. He later became a wealthy showman, taking his large western show--featuring mock battles between cowboys and Indians--all over the U. S. and even to Europe, where he became friends with Queen Victoria. He built the grandest hotel in Cody--the Irma, named after one of his daughters. It is still standing today and is the site of a daily western show with a mock gunfight. There is a photo above of the front entrance of the hotel.
There are many statues of Cody, of course. Here are two of them:
I don't see any evidence of any of the Antifa or BLM scumbags coming around here with the idea of tearing down these statues. I'm fairly sure the gun-toting locals would bring a harsh and quick end to any such effort.
Cody's wild west show was an enormous hit in the late 1800s. When performing in England, as did his contemporary P. T. Barnum and his circus, Cody's show was four times larger, with similarly larger attendances of enthusiastic crowds; there was standing room only, and even the reclusive Queen Victoria attended. The show consisted mostly of mock Indian attacks on settlers, cabins and stagecoaches, with the soldiers coming to the rescue and, ultimately, attaining the victory, amid much gunfire, both sides being in full costume. The normally reserved Britons were wildly enthusiastic, never having seen an Indian or the kinds of conflicts carried out between them and the American settlers, about which they had heard so much.
Eventually, Queen Victoria and Cody became close friends--some say, uh, very close. She was sufficiently friendly toward him that she gifted him with the gorgeous antique bar that is still in use today in the Irma hotel:
Cody's show played many times in England and in other European countries, attended by the likes of future Kaiser Wilhelm and future King George V. Cody pocketed a cool million dollars from his European shows--worth about $30 million today. He had become a true celebrity and acquired significant wealth from his endeavors. Unfortunately, his large show train was involved in a terrible accident in North Carolina in 1901, wherein 110 of his horses were killed. Thankfully, none of his human performers were killed, but Annie Oakley, who was aboard, was injured badly, which is thought to have contributed to her eventual slow decline and death.
Pictured below is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in downtown Cody. It is a large complex of five museums that present an exhaustive look at all aspects of the history of the western part of the country including, of course, much information about Buffalo Bill and his family. The photo below doesn't begin to show the vastness of the building, but it is said to be the largest museum in the western United States.
Inside the museum you can see things such as a real chuck wagon, like this one. Additionally, there's the story of Bill Cody's life, wildlife of the region, the geology of the area, antique firearms, Indian culture and a western art museum. It is a true treasure trove of Western artifacts and history. More than a day would be required to see it all:
Sandy zeroed in on an old can of Lipton tea on the wagon. Those of you who know her and her irrational affinity for iced tea will understand her fascination that tea was available to the travelers of the old west. If the tin of tea in the photo below is authentic, it dates from sometime between 1907 and 1915. Funny the things that catch her attention...