It seems like all of us have that one person in our lives who gets what we have to say better than anyone else.
In my case, I met Susan in middle school when we were standing in the cafeteria line and she asked the lunch lady for a plate of worms with red gravy. I immediately knew that she wanted the spaghetti with marinara sauce and laughed while the rest of the kids looked at her like she had some strange Martian disease.
I ordered what she was having and made a point of sitting with her at lunch for roughly the next six years. We quickly became inseparable, shared our thoughts and gave each other nicknames. She called me “Coriander” and I called her “Sooz.” (Not “Suze,” because it just didn’t have the same ring to it. Again, we got those looks.)
Recently I thought of Sooz when I was telling a family from Tennessee that no classic Cody vacation is complete without driving one of the two roads to Yellowstone. When I am in the park I refer to them as the two roads to Cody, by the way.
“Head west out of town past the Buffalo Bill Dam, through Buffalo Bill State Park and along the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway,” I said, just knowing that I would get a chuckle. “Continue past ‘Laughing Pig Rock,’ ‘Old Woman and Her Cabin,’ ‘Snoopy the Dog’ and ‘Chinese Wall’ and when you get to ‘Long
Hair’s Hunting Lodge’ you will be at the east entrance.”
Instead of a chuckle or at least a smile, I got that look that said my audience had no idea what I was talking about. And what I was talking about is one of the West’s most beautiful drives, which makes it one of the most scenic anywhere.
The road from Cody to the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park shadows the north fork of the Shoshone River for 52 glorious miles. Start on Yellowstone Avenue in town and head west through Shoshone Canyon and a 3⁄4-mile tunnel.
The highway – U.S. Highway 14/16/20, passes through the Wapiti Valley (known for its wildlife and named for the elk who reside there) and Shoshone National Forest, (our nation’s first National Forest) passing along the way rock formations with whimsical names.
Guest ranches also dot the route, offering a place to stop and spend a night, ride a horse and/or enjoy a little fishing. The last stop before the park is Pahaska Tepee Resort, which was Buffalo Bill’s own hunting lodge. “Pahaska” is an Indian word meaning “long hair,” and teepee roughly means home or
After I stopped trying to be funny, this family actually took my advice and headed out past the rodeo grounds on their way to the park.
I, on the other hand, went home and called Sooz. We reminisced about one time when we had driven that same road and renamed the rock formations with names like “Charlie Brown’s Mutt,” “The Amused Pork” and other variations.
And then there was our all-time favorite – “The Lunch Lady Who didn’t Understand our Jokes.” See if you can spot that one when you make this drive.
Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and thinking about my best friend – in Cody, Wyo.