Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cody, Wyoming - A Taste of the Old West

Just to update everyone, after we left Cody we headed to the Grand
Teton mountains where we had no internet for a week where we
were camped.  Now we are headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming but
more on all of this soon as we catch up the blogs!

Looking for an authentic Old West experience?  Then look no farther than Cody!  Where else can you hit the nightly rodeo, see a gun fight in the street, gaze at wild mustangs, strut the downtown in a cowboy hat, and buy a custom pair of boots?  Not to mention you can do all of this in a town named after one of the most famous real life western characters – William F. Cody; a.k.a. “Buffalo Bill.”

Buffalo Bill’s legend and mark on this city permeate its fabric.  The iconic figure famous for his long flowing hair, goatee and mustache, and wardrobe of long coats and high boots does not go unrecognized.  There is Buffalo Bill beer, people on the street are dressed like him, highways, hotels, and dams are named after him, and a world famous museum honors him. 

We quickly realized that there was more to do in Cody than we expected so we extended our 5-day stay for another four days.  We set out to see a myriad of sights including a rodeo, parade, museums, wild sheep exhibit, dam, scenic byway, internment camp, cowboy music review, and of course there was time for shopping and finding the best burger in town.  We even managed to give the motorhome a thorough wash and wax.  Whew, we were exhausted after nine days in Cody!  But it was so much fun.

The town is named for “Buffalo Bill” Cody – an American soldier, bison hunter and showman who became one of the most colorful and recognized figures of the Old West.  To start off your visit, head to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center - a world class museum complex that spans 300,000 square feet and three floors.  The vibrant museum brings the American West alive with five galleries that tell the story of Buffalo Bill's life and legend, the living culture of the Plains Indians, fine art from western artists, the evolution of firearms, and the natural history of Yellowstone National Park.  Don’t panic over the size and complexity of this museum because your admission ticket is good for two days so you can take your time perusing the exhibits and galleries.  We spent 2 days learning so much.  

The Draper Museum of Natural History tells the story of Yellowstone National Park's wildlife and ecosystem in an interactive way with exhibits and videos.
Of course, Buffalo Bill (and Calamity Jane) were wandering through the museum.
For years Buffalo Bill had staged plays about the west.  But he wanted to convey  the west's true openness and romance so he started an outdoor show with cowboys, American Indians, and animals.  That was the birth of "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" - a show that traveled all over the world.

The Cody Firearms Museum houses the most comprehensive collection of American firearms in the world.

The Whitney Gallery of Western Art
The Plains Indian Museum interprets the story of the lives of Plains Indian peoples including their cultures, traditions, values, and histories, as well as the contexts of their lives today.
Fourth of July in Cody is a big deal due to Stampede Days.  The town is abuzz with activities centered on the Cody Stampede Rodeo - one of the top 15 outdoor rodeos in the world.  There are five days of activities including parades, an arts and crafts fair, fireworks and nightly rodeo performances.  We couldn’t wait to get to the rodeo and feel the excitement of bucking broncos, speeding barrel racers, struggling cowboys wrestling uncooperative steers, and dust flying from bucking bulls.  Now in its 93rd year, the rodeo attracts top professionals from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and has a $300,000+ purse.  Nightly rodeos last all summer long in this self-proclaimed “Rodeo Capital of the World.”







On the fourth of July we headed downtown to the parade and enjoyed the entertainment of a small town parade.  Coming from New Orleans this was completely civilized and wholesome.  The children politely stood up and begged for candy to be thrown their way while the parents sat calmly in their chairs and picked up the pieces the little ones missed.

This was the first vehicle to drive through Yellowstone National Park.
Miss Rodeo America and Miss Rodeo Wyoming
We were not sure who or what she was but she
knew she was sure pretty. 

Of course, Buffalo Bill made it to the parade.

Upon a recommendation by a local lady we met at the dog park, we ventured out of town to the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center.  At one time the dam was the highest in the country reaching 353 feet in height and spanning 200 feet across a breathtaking canyon above the Shoshone River.  It was Buffalo Bill who first came up with the idea of constructing some sort of dam to aid in irrigation.  The project was completed in 1910 and is a vital source of water and power for this parched land.


Upstream from the dam is the Buffalo Bill Reservoir.
Downstream from the dam.

Cody is a delightful western town that is proud of its history and longs to continue its small town feel.  We met so many great locals (at the dog park, of course) who shared tips about sightseeing and restaurants.  Thanks Cody for a great nine days.  We may be back.

We stopped in at the Wild Sheep Foundation to learn about the evolution of sheep and their presence in North America.

There is a gun flight every night downtown at the famous Irma Hotel.
We went to Dan Miller's Music Review where we were treated to great classic western music.

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