Buffalo Bill Blog

Jul
22

Halfway Through Summer in Cody, Wyoming

While the official halfway point of the summer is in early August since summer officially starts June 21 and officially ends September 21, I know better. Summer starts Memorial Day weekend and ends Labor Day weekend.

That makes midsummer right about…now, and I would like to report that the first half of this summer in Cody, Wyoming has been terrific with the forecast for continued fun and classic western experiences.

Kids gather round the rodeo clown after chasing two calves in the rodeo arena.

Kids gather round the rodeo clown after chasing two calves in the rodeo arena.

Here are some of the highlights for me so far.

1) My nephew won the prize for catching the calf at the Cody Nite Rodeo. Every year he has given it his best effort, and this was finally the year it paid off. If you have never seen 100 kids trying to get the bandana tied to a calf’s tail in the rodeo arena you are missing out.

2) The runoff has been high and the rafting fast. I ran a section of the North Fork of the Shoshone River in near-record time and was happy that I scheduled the longer run farther down river. It was a hot day, and the water never felt better.

3) I attended the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts Annual Meeting at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center and gained a deeper understanding of the challenges facing many people in our diverse country. I immediately signed up for the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage August 22 – 23, 2014. This year’s event will honor the late Sen. Daniel Inouye and all those who served in the armed forces.

4) I made a guest appearance in the Cody Gunfighters show. You might have seen me dressed up as a barroom dancer. My speaking part was to warn the marshal that one of the bad guys was sneaking up on him. I yelled “Duck,” and the other actors commended me on doing such a great job.

5) Dan Miller and his Cowboy Music Revue included me in his show one night by joking that I knew Buffalo Bill personally. While nobody actually believed him, I do suggest that you watch your back for the rest of the summer, “Danno.”

Several rafting companies provide float trips on local rivers. Many locals own their own rafts.

Several rafting companies provide float trips on local rivers. Many locals own their own rafts.

The rest of my summer will be filled with hiking, riding, fishing and other activities. I am especially looking forward to the county fair in Powell and the rest of the Thursday night concert series in Cody’s city park.

A reenactment of the mass trial of Heart Mountain internee draft resisters was part of the NCREFC conference.

A reenactment of the mass trial of Heart Mountain internee draft resisters was part of the NCREFC conference.

If you have not pulled the trigger on using those vacation days, you still have time. Make sure you look me up when you get to town.

Until you do call, I am lovin’ life in Cody, Wyoming.

Jul
17

10 Places to Visit on Your Cody, Wyoming Vacation

It’s Not Too Late to Take that Cody Vacation!

I was watching one of the Lord of the Rings movies one winter night when the character Gandalf explained to one of the hobbits that he was never late and never early but he always showed up according to his schedule.

Maybe you are a little like that. You haven’t made your summer vacation plans yet because the time wasn’t right. Well, if that’s your story – and you’re sticking to it – I have a few suggestions to help you get away. Get away with your story and get away for a vacation, that is.

We have plenty of options for accommodations in and around Cody and Yellowstone. Dude ranches, more commonly called guest ranches these days, have been a staple of the Western vacation experience for more than a century, and Cody has played an integral part of the evolution of these All-American vacation getaways. The roots of this vacation style can be traced to areas in Wyoming where the term “dude” originated and where many ranches operate today.

Enjoy a Western vacation at one of our local guest ranches

Enjoy a Western vacation at one of our local guest ranches

For guests who prefer in-town accommodations within walking distance of attractions like the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody offers an array of boutique inns, hotels and lodges, cabins, and RV and tent campsites. A complete listing of accommodations can be found online.

There are plenty of options and many ways to fill the hours during a few days in Yellowstone Country. Here are 10 places that should be on every travelers’ agenda, and none of these activities requires advance planning.

1 – The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a great place to start a Yellowstone Country adventure. This world-class facility is actually five separate museums, each with exhibits that look at different aspects of the American West. The Draper Museum of Natural History is especially popular with young visitors because of the museum’s extensive interactive displays and life-size exhibits of animals found in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

2 – Take a float trip down the Shoshone River. Vacationers with more time can opt for half-day whitewater rafting trips. Interpretive guides steer floats while providing stories and information about the area’s colorful characters, breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife.

3 – Watch a hilarious street performance by the famous Cody Gunfighters.  The porch of the Irma Hotel is the best viewing point to watch this entertaining, quirky Cody event.

4 – Take an hour-long trolley tour of Cody and the surrounding area. The tour features live narration by a knowledgeable tour guide, entertaining audio clips and historical photos. The trolley tour is a great way to get an overview of the town and its history.

A Cody Trolley Tour provides a great overview of the town and its history

A Cody Trolley Tour provides a great overview of the town and its history

5 – Visit the Buffalo Bill Dam & Visitor Center. Located about six miles west of Cody, the dam was the brainchild of Buffalo Bill himself. It was completed in 1910 and at 353 feet was the highest concrete dam in the world. Continue to drive along the road and watch for elk, grizzly bears, eagles and other wildlife.

6 – Be entertained by Dan Miller’s Cowboy Music Revue, located in the historic Cody Theatre across from the Irma Hotel. The popular Branson-style music variety show features Nashville transplant Dan Miller and the “Empty Saddles Band.”

7 – Visit the Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center. This important interpretive center is situated at the site of the Heart Mountain WWII Internment Camp, home to some 14,000 Japanese-American citizens – mostly from California – who were interned there following Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Opened in August 2011, the Interpretive Center includes thoughtfully presented exhibits that explore that difficult period of the country’s history.

8 – Check out Old Trail Town/Museum of the Old West. An enclave of 26 frontier buildings (one used by Butch Cassidy and his gang), Old Trail Town offers a built-in teaching moment. Astonished youngsters are often heard commenting about how small the houses were back then.

9 – Tour Pahaska Tepee. This is where Buffalo Bill went to relax with friends such as Teddy Roosevelt and the Prince of Monaco. Built in 1904, this hunting lodge sits just outside the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park. It was called Pahaska Tepee, reflecting the nickname given to him by the local Indians; it means “long hair.” The rustic log lodge displays many gifts given to Buffalo Bill by guests.

Pahaska Tepee was Buffalo Bill's spectacular hunting lodge

Pahaska Tepee was Buffalo Bill's spectacular hunting lodge

10 – And finally, don’t miss the Cody Nite Rodeo, which has earned Cody the designation as Rodeo Capital of the World. It is the only seven-night-a-week outdoor rodeo (June through August) in the country.

Talking about all of the great places we have to visit is making me want to get out and do some of them.

Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and crossing some great activities off my list – in Cody, Wyo.

Jun
27

Surprising Cody, Wyoming

Those people who might think there is nothing surprising about Cody, Wyoming didn’t see the T-Rex rolling down Sheridan Avenue last week.

Fishing in Cody, Wyoming

Try your luck on our water

Like many Wyoming towns, Cody, Wyoming is full of surprises. Last week we saw a 28-foot-long Tyrannosaurus Rex travel through town on the way to its new home at the Casper College Tate Geological Museum. You couldn’t exactly miss the bronze sculpture as it was traveling by truck to Cody. An oddity, certainly, but if you’ve lived in Cody as long as I have nothing really surprises you.

Pioneer home ordered from Sears catalog

Pioneer home ordered from Sears catalog

Visitors to Cody, Wyoming will find we have a few other surprises up our sleeves. Here are a few examples. You’ll hear about many of these surprising fun facts about Cody if you take the Cody Trolley Tour of the town, a popular tour for vacationers and locals alike.

Cody, Wyoming is home to three pioneer homes that were ordered from a Sears Catalog in 1908.

One of Cody’s banks was robbed by members of the famous Hole-in-the-Wall Gang in 1904, and you can see their hideaway cabin at Old Trail Town, a collection of cabins and other buildings from the pioneer days.

We name our rock formations. My personal favorites are “Old Woman and Her Cabin” and “Laughing Pig Rock.”

Our own Buffalo Bill Dam was once the highest concrete dam in the world.

At one time, there were more Japanese-American citizens interred at the Heart Mountain Internment Camp than there were Cody citizens.

The Cody Nite Rodeo is the longest running summer-season nightly rodeo in the country.

Some locals believe that Buffalo Bill is buried in Cody, not in Colorado.

We Cody locals have a great deal of style. Our Rendezvous Royale event staged every September includes the nationally rated Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale, Western fashion show, quick-draw event and an auction.

Our own Buffalo Bill Center of the West is world class. The museum has earned the Certificate of Excellence Award from TripAdvisor – again.

Cody’s blue ribbon trout fishing draws anglers from around the world.

Learn more at the Heat Mountain WWII Interpretive Center

Learn more at the Heat Mountain WWII Interpretive Center

These are just a few of Cody’s surprises. While I can’t promise we’ll have a T-Rex rolling down the street when you visit, I can assure you that when you will leave our historic town you will realize there is something quite special here in our little corner of northwestern Wyoming.

Jun
27

How to Make the Longest Day of the Year Fly By

The summer solstice was last week, and I truly do get excited about it. In fact, I like to make a game out of cramming in as much as possible on June 21 each year. I call it my Cody in a day marathon.

Perhaps it’s because of the memories from my childhood when we used to stay outside playing as long as the light held out. At that point all of the kids were still excited about school being done for the year, and most of us were not even thinking about summer vacations or extended visits to our grandparents’ houses. Now that I think about it, it was my parents who were the most eager to send us to bond with Grandma and Grandpa.

I have always been one of those people who cannot go to sleep while it’s still light out, and I am quick to wake up on summer mornings. It’s a good thing I live in such a terrific vacation destination like Cody.

Because the solstice fell on a Saturday this year, I can go all out knowing that I have all day Sunday to recuperate.

Here was my plan:

I will start out “Cody Palooza” by fishing on the lake at Buffalo Bill State Park. I enjoy fly fishing the many rivers and streams in the area, but I like to mix things up a bit by going after rainbow, brown lake and cutthroat trout in the park.

Try your luck fishing at the Buffalo Bill State Park

Buffalo Bill State Park

Once the sun starts to move up, I will pack away my gear and head west through the Wapiti Valley (“wapiti” is an American Indian word meaning white tail which the local tribes used for elk) to meet a friend for a horseback ride at one of our guest ranches.

The area has more than a dozen such properties, and I try to visit and experience as many as I can throughout the year. These ranches are often called “dude” ranches, and we can make the claim that the term originated here back in the late 1800s when easterners paid good money to come to the area and chip in on the chores. Dude was the name coined by locals to describe those particular clients.

On the way back into town I will stop by Old Trail Town. Most people are familiar with the old homesteader cabins there, but I also like to pay my respects to Jeremiah “Liver Eating” Johnston and the others who are buried there on the property.

Visit the gravesite of notable Western figure, Jeremiah Liver-Eating Johnston

Visit the gravesite of notable Western figure, Jeremiah Liver-Eating Johnston

Since I am right there where the river rafters put in, I plan on joining one of the shorter trips. Most people don’t realize that the North Fork of the Shoshone River runs so close to downtown, but it is so convenient and easy to get on the river and raft.

I will then head into town because I will need a little quiet time to reflect and recharge. There is a gallery on Sheridan Avenue that carries some locally made jewelry, and I have had my eye on a “story teller” bracelet that will help me recharge just fine. A certain member of a band that plays at a popular hangout promised me that he would buy it if I could two-step for a complete set of music last Friday night. Silly boy. That bracelet is going to look good on my wrist.

Enjoy a live, western music show at the Dan Miller's Cowboy Music Revue

Enjoy a live, western music show at the Dan Miller's Cowboy Music Revue

All of this activity will more than burn off the calories in a large ice cream cone, and there are a couple of places downtown to choose from. I will buy the cone myself.

Since I will be so close, I plan to watch the Cody Gunfighters put on their performance. Every night is a new crowd, and I like to chat up these visitors before the blanks start popping and the jokes get people laughing.

There will be time for dinner afterwards, but I have not decided where to eat yet. Our choices have increased in the past few years, and I like to play it by ear.

It will then be a coin flip as to whether I stay in town to listen to one of my favorite bands or head out to the rodeo grounds. Music or rodeo. I can’t lose.

As daylight finally starts to give out, I plan on being in position to watch the sun set over Spirit Mountain. I think of Buffalo Bill Cody at times like that because our local legend states that Bill is buried on that mountain overlooking town and not in a grave on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado. I like to believe that story almost as much as telling it to people. Especially to people from Golden. Some of them just don’t have a sense of humor about that topic.

At that point I expect I will be ready to call it a day. Unless a certain band member wants to bet matching earrings on my dancing abilities.

If you are in town for the next summer solstice – and think you can keep up – join me for the day.

If you do, I am sure you will be lovin’ life as much as I do in Cody, Wyo.

Jun
13

Plains Indian Museum Powwow is Colorful Cultural Celebration in Cody, Wyoming

One of the most colorful events in Cody Wyoming is the annual Plains Indian Museum Powwow. It’s also one of the tastiest. I can already taste the fry bread and Indian tacos.

Each summer competitive dancers from Northern Plains Indian tribes come to Cody to show off swirl, jingle and stomp their way to prizes. Cody vacationers and locals alike are treated to a vibrant show that is fun and festive. But it is also a serious competition, and an announcer explains what’s going on to the uninitiated.

Grand Entry at the Plains Indian Powwow

Grand Entry at the Plains Indian Powwow at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Staged by the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the event this year will be held on June 21 from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday, June 22 from noon to 5 p.m. My friends and I will be arriving early on Saturday to set up our chairs and blankets on the fabulous grass amphitheater just outside of the museum. Then we’ll go get our first round of Indian tacos and settle in to watch the Grand Entry, when all of the dancers enter the gates and circle the dance area.

The Ladies Shawl Dance is a graceful display of wonderful color.

The Ladies Shawl Dance is a graceful display of wonderful color.

I love the costumes. The men and women both wear festive costumes that reflect the cultural traditions and histories of their tribes. We’ll see men in traditional garb, women in elegant shawls and wee kids in fancy costumes.

This is one of the best entertainment bargains of the year. It’s only $10 for adults and $5 for kids seven and up. Little kids can come in free, and for some of those kids it is clearly their first time experiencing the rich cultural traditions of American Indians.

After the first few rounds of the competition, my friends and I usually get up to stretch our legs. And we go shopping. The Indian vendors circling the amphitheater offer an array of arts and crafts, and I almost always add to my ever-growing collection of American Indian-made jewelry while I’m at the powwow.

Youngsters learn to dance with their parents and siblings.

Youngsters learn to dance with their parents and siblings.

Everyone seems to have their favorite dancers. I love to watch the Grass Dancers. The men who perform these traditional dances are highly competitive. They often wear costumes adorned with beaded belts, armbands and cuffs with matching headbands and moccasins. The origins of grass dancing may have come from young boys tying grass on their outfits. Before a dance could be held the grass had to be stomped down, so the stomping movements may have stemmed from that. And one of the most beautiful dances is the Ladies Fancy Shawl dance. The women are so athletic but at the same time unbelievably graceful.

I can’t wait for this weekend. Hope to see you at the Powwow.

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