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Nothing If Not Flexible

July 6th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

I’m a terrific aunt. At least that’s what I like to tell myself. And every summer when little darlings come to visit Aunt Corrie here Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country, I put together a perfectly paced itinerary, with a balance of educational and cultural experiences and outdoor adventures so when they return to my sister’s house they’ll have a renewed appreciation for Cody and this bountiful region of northwestern Wyoming.

Because they adore me, and because Aunt Corrie knows best, the kids have always dutifully followed the itineraries with enthusiasm. Until this year.

Turns out these one-time knee-biters are now near-teens, and they have opinions on what we should do and where we should go. Plus, they already know a lot about the region.

For example, when we were driving home from the airport, I shared “did you knows” about the area, as I always do. “Did you know, kids, that the town of Cody is 120 years old this year?” “Of course, Aunt Corrie. And did you know that Buffalo Bill would be 170 years old this year?” I swear I heard giggling from the back seat. That’s when I knew that Aunt Corrie was no longer in charge.

The next day, I took Read More

The Call and the Drama of Wapiti Valley

June 29th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Last weekend I visited – again — the new Buffalo Bill Center of the West exhibit called “Invisible Boundaries: Exploring Yellowstone’s Great Animal Migrations.” The exhibit is a fitting addition to the Draper Museum of Natural History’s focus on the Great Yellowstone Ecosystem. Although the exhibit opened May 30, I’ve already been there three times.

Thoughtfully presented with stunning photographs and video, interactive migration maps and original artwork, the exhibition shows the migration patterns of not only the wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem but other species like monarch butterflies and humpback whales and the elusive cowboy music group Los Calientes as well.

The Draper Natural History Museum connects you with nature in Cody/Yellowstone Country.

Then, with the wildlife of Greater Yellowstone on my mind, I drove through Wapiti Valley in the hopes of observing one of my favorite wildlife species in the area – elk — which can often be seen from the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway, the road that leads from Cody to the East Gate of Yellowstone. The name of the valley is the Shawnee and Cree word for elk – meaning white rump – which I think is a perfect name, because elk are plentiful in the Read More

You Shoulda Knocked, Shia

June 21st, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Dang. I wish I would have thought of something this fun. Then again, I am not the movie star I most definitely should be and would probably not get the attention.

So, what am I yammering on about this week?

Part-time bad boy, part-time actor, occasional shaver and full-time hottie Shia Lebeouf (sounds like the anti-Dan Miller, except for the hottie part) along with his creative compadres Nastja Rönkkö, and Luke Turner are in the middle of a 30-day performance art project called “Take me Anywhere.” The trio posts coordinates of their location and invites someone to pick them up and, well, take them to a destination for whatever activity they want.

There are some limits, of course.

They started last month in Boulder, Colo. and headed north where one of my friends in Fort Collins tried to be the one who picked up the hitchhikers to help him finish his basement. I have no idea if they have any carpentry, plumbing or electrical skills.

They headed east toward the Black Hills and doubled back to Denver and into the mountains before turning south and east again. They have been to Arizona, Florida, New Orleans, Chicago, the mid-Atlantic and then Read More

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

June 14th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Comments (2)

I know I’m showing my age, but I was a big fan of Jim Nabors’ Gomer Pyle when I was a kid, and my friends and I would try to outdo each other with our imitations of his signature line, “surprise, surprise, surprise.” No self-respecting kid from Cody could really ever master the southern accent, but that didn’t stop us from running around town and yelling “surprise, surprise, surprise” every time we did something fun. Which in Cody, was practically every day.

The line has been on my mind this summer because my little town of Cody has a bunch of surprises in store for the summer visitors who have been enjoying Cody’s hospitality.

New digs for Dan Miller. My favorite cowboy singer, Dan Miller, and his super-talented Empty Saddles Band have moved to a new venue at the new Kuyper Dining Pavilion in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West this summer. And there’s also a dinner-and-show option. Dan Miller and his band are now in their 12th year, and they have performed their distinctive brand of cowboy music for more than 110,000 visitors from some 65 countries around the world. The pavilion opened in June, and I made sure I Read More

Searching for a Summer Job?

June 6th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Well, it’s that time of year again when seniors say goodbye to their high schools and college graduates try to figure out what they want to do with their lives. Or they just sleep late, watch television, and wait until their parents find jobs for them.

I personally know a lot of terrific kids who have been working hard since before they were old enough to drive. Here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country there are always plenty of seasonal jobs that become available right about when school gets out. There aren’t very many good excuses for not working around here in the summer.

There are always jobs as a cook or wrangler in Cody/Yellowstone Country.

In fact, one of my friends had to make her daughter quit one of her jobs last summer because she was working too hard. This young lady discovered that she liked having money in her wallet, liked buying rounds of expensive coffee for her friends and loved having a closet full of cowboy boots.

Our area takes on a decidedly international feel during the summer as our tourist attractions need to find employees, and our small town just doesn’t have enough people looking for seasonal jobs.

As a long-time Read More

How We Saved our National Mammal (Even...

May 31st, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

So I have spent the past couple of weeks talking about our newly designated national mammal – the bison – and what a big deal it is in these parts. I also offered up some friendly advice to keep you from getting stomped, thrown or otherwise turned into a viral Internet sensation known as “that poor tourist who tried to pet a one-ton wild animal.”

Enjoy viewing and photographing bison from the safety of your vehicle.

Interfering with nature and taking things with bison way too far, however, is not new for us humans. We came close to completely wiping out 30 million bison by killing them for fun (the way many were hunted was certainly not sport) or as a way to control the American Indian population.

In the early 1900s the bison around here numbered approximately two dozen that were in Yellowstone National Park. Realizing that drastic measures needed to be taken, advocates for this species lobbied the United States Congress and received $15,000 to set up ranching operations in the park’s Lamar Valley.

Some 21 bison were bought from private owners and added to the herd, and from 1907 into the 1950s, bison were bred and raised in a protected Read More

Keeping a Safe Distance from Our National...

May 24th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Now that the National Bison Legacy Act (NBLA) has designated the bison as our national mammal, we are pretty excited here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.

Personally, I am wondering what bison/buffalo songs Dan Miller (scientific name – “Hunka Hunka”) will be performing this summer with his Empty Saddles Band.

Unfortunately, interest in this magnificent creature increased recently for the wrong reasons when two tourists in the park (Yellowstone National Park for those who aren’t my neighbors) misguidedly put a bison calf in their vehicle and took it to a ranger station because they thought it was cold. This action resulted in the calf being rejected by the herd which was a death sentence for the animal.

Human contact with bison calves can result in them being rejected by the herd

It is my sincere wish that this event, tragic as it is, will serve to educate people about observing and appreciating wildlife. There have already been too many close calls this season of park visitors approaching – even petting – bison as they gather on the road.

My hope is that nobody is injured or killed because they get too close to the bison while trying to shoot a selfie or because they Read More

Our National Mammal

May 17th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

When President Obama signed into law the National Bison Legacy Act (NBLA) last week designating a national mammal, it really hit close to home here in Yellowstone Country.

It is practically impossible to spend any time in our region without hearing about the bison, although many people mistakenly call the bison – scientific name bison – a buffalo. Most often it is in reference to Buffalo Bill Cody, our town’s founder. There is the Buffalo Bill Dam, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Buffalo Bill State Park and more.

The buffalo misnomer occurred as a result of the species bearing a resemblance to a European buffalo – scientific name Bison bonasus. I have also heard people say our bison were mistaken for African or Asian buffalo, but I will go with European since the people who perpetuated this mistake were predominantly from Europe. I would love to hear from someone who could provide a deeper and more definitive argument.

You won’t have any trouble spotting our national mammal in Cody/Yellowstone Country!

The historical significance of this majestic animal in the American West is fascinating. Native Americans relied upon this animal for food, clothing, housing and other uses. Herds were prevalent from western New Read More

Checking Out the Wild Mustangs

May 9th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

In case you hadn’t heard, next week is our annual Spring into Yellowstone Festival with a great lineup of events taking place May 11 through 15.

Between the activities, field trips and opportunities to meet new people, the week to me is a bit like Christmas, the fourth of July, and a Dan Miller concert all rolled up into one event. I find it hard to sleep some nights just thinking about it.

Join in one of the exciting experiences at the annual Spring Into Yellowstone Festival.

Our little town will be the “hub” for the festival with many of the “spokes” taking participants throughout the region. We will have registration, receptions, accommodations, meals and various social functions close by. I, however, cannot wait to get outside and enjoy activities like an Introduction to Rock Climbing, Wings of the Night bat watching (sorry, no “bat signal” lighting up the clouds for this one) and Wolves of Northwest Wyoming in the park’s Lamar Valley.

Enjoy interpretive hikes, an introduction to rock climbing, photography and more!

An excursion that I definitely want to take this year is the Wild Horses of the McCullough Peaks held each day May 12, 13 and 14.

Some people may not Read More

The “Wild Heart of the Continent” in...

April 29th, 2016 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

It’s finally here. The May issue of National Geographic magazine is entirely devoted to Yellowstone National Park, here in Yellowstone Country, and I couldn’t be more excited.

The entire 172-page issue is a celebration of the world’s first national park as well as the centennial of the National Park Service. Some of the country’s truly great writers and photographers spent three full years producing the photography and stories, and the resulting package is a timeless, sensitive, thought-provoking portrayal of “America’s Wild Idea.”

Cody’s East Entrance to Yellowstone – the Wildest Way Into Yellowstone.

I’ve already gotten lost in the stories, as the dog-eared copy on my nightstand attests. “The Paradox of the Park,” explores how man struggles with its co-existence with wilderness, and how that dynamic has changed over the years. From an image from 1972 on page 54 showing tourists surrounding and photographing a bear on its hind legs just a few feet away from them, to a group of teens splashing in the Boiling River near Mammoth Hot Springs, the images are beautiful and disturbing, sometimes at the same time.

There are honest profiles of some of the park’s most ardent supporters, such as Dan Wenk, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park; Read More