Buffalo Bill Blog

Nov
05

November Quiet Time

 

empty fields with fall leaves and mountains in background

Things are quiet right now in our little slice of heaven. Most of the roads in the park are closed as the National Park Service allows the snow to build up so that the over-the-snow vehicles will have a good base come December. It’s a bit chilly to go rafting down the Shoshone River, and the Nite Rodeo buttoned up its operations until next Memorial Day.

I still see fishermen coming through town, and the hunters like to stay in town and enjoy our restaurants and nightly entertainment. The museums are always great with many visitors taking extra time to learn about the area and its early inhabitants, natural features, art and more.

There is still some time before the ice climbing gets going. It’s also easy to imagine hitting the slopes at Sleeping Giant Ski Area.

For the most part, however, we are in that shoulder season where many of us cut back on our hours and reconnect with friends who worked many days – sometimes weeks – in a row because that is simply what we do in an area that ebbs and flows with so closely related to the patterns of tourists.

I love it this way.

I have tried the 9-to-5 life in an office, but I found myself getting antsy and manufacturing reasons to be outside. Instead of picking up the phone to call Kenny Martin about the status of the wild mustangs roaming the BLM land out past the airport, I felt the need to discuss the topic in person. While I was talking with him, it seemed like a good idea for me to hop on the bus with his tour group and see the horses for myself.

Another time I needed to pick up office supplies and decided to use some discount coupons I found online. The problem was that the supply store in question was located in Casper. Nobody believed me when I said the car seemed to have a mind of its own. They told me I had been reading too many Stephen King novels.

That job did not last long. It seems the boss expected me to stay at my desk and do the various tasks assigned to me. I take full responsibility, but it was a good experience. Sort of like that time I went and lived with my aunt in New York City. I can say I gave it an honest effort and learned that I am simply not a big-city girl.

This is not to say that I shy away from work. When I was young and scooping ice cream, I loved it when the tour bus pulled up and a group of 50 people would walk in the front door. We would work long hours for as many days in a row as necessary. Our crew would be a case study for efficiency, dedication and teamwork.

I know that this lull will not last long. The holidays are approaching quickly, and special events throughout the winter will be that much more enjoyable. Many business owners are taking the time to make sure their equipment is in good working order and figuring out marketing plans for next year.

There is still so much for visitors to do around here in the winter. Sometimes it just takes an extra layer and proper directions around town. You don’t want to end up in Casper for office supplies.

Until next time, I’m enjoying the quiet time in Cody/Yellowstone Country.

Corrie N. Codycartoon cowgirl with braids

Oct
29

Halloween Costume

 

black cats, bats and witch flying in air on broom

With Halloween quickly approaching I am frantically trying to figure out what costume I will wear as I pass out candy. I don’t want it to be too frightening, but I will want something that will work for the grownup party Friday night.

 When I was a little girl, my mother always wanted me to dress up like a cowgirl. One year she said I could be a barrel racer, and the next I could be the rodeo queen.

 “Mother,” I always responded, “This will be the most boring costume because everybody dresses that way around here every other day of the year.”

 “Well, what about being a zombie cowgirl?” she asked.

 It was only years later that I realized my mother just didn’t have the Halloween costume gene.

 Also, she was cheap.

 One thing I don’t like to do is just head down to Wal Mart and buy a prepackaged costume. I am okay buying individual components like a Lady Godiva wig or stuffed parrot to go on my shoulder as part of my parrot costume.

 Last year, I purchased a beard about two feet long, and I never used it. Because I just couldn’t decide if I wanted to be one of those Duck Dynasty guys or a member of Z.Z. Top, I threw the beard in the box and forgot about it.

 As a semi/pseudo spokesperson for the town, I decided that any costume I wear should reflect Cody and Park County.

 Therefore when I went through the box this morning and came across the beard, I tried to figure out who would let his beard grow out like that.

 That’s when it came to me.

Jeremiah Liver Eating Johnston

 This year I am going to be Liver Eating Johnston.

 The locals know who I am talking about, but those of you who have not been to Cody are probably wondering who I’m talking about.

 Jeremiah “Liver Eating” Johnston was a mountain man who lived in the West in the mid-1880s. According to legend, his American Indian wife was killed and he himself was the target of many attempts on his life by native peoples.

 Johnston made peace with the tribes and embarked on a career as a scout, trapper hunter and more in the West, mainly Wyoming and Montana. He died in 1900 and was buried in California.

 When a California highway was slated to go right through the veteran’s cemetery where Johnston was buried, a group of seventh graders in Los Angeles began a campaign to have his remains reinterred in a place that seemed to better reflect this man’s life.

 As a result, in 1974 Johnston was buried at Old Trail Town on the original downtown Cody City site. You can see his grave and read about him on the wall of one of the homesteader cabins.

 If you are thinking that this sounds a lot like the Jeremiah Johnston immortalized by Robert Redford in a movie, you are right on the money. In fact, Redford was an honorary pallbearer at the Cody ceremony.

 If you see me walking around town Thursday night, please be sure to say hello.

 And if you happen to speak to Robert Redford, tell him I have risen from the grave and am looking for him.

 Until next time, I tricking and treating in Buffalo Bill and Jeremiah Johnston country!

Corrie N. CodyCartoon cowgirl with braids

Oct
24

Vacationers In Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country During The Government Shutdown

 

Cody sign with mountains in the background

Now that the government shutdown is behind us, I am so happy things are back to normal, people are back to work and folks are coming back to Cody.

During that time when all those people who think the center of world is located on the eastern seaboard decided that they know what is best for the rest of us, something fun happened.

I met a group of people who were planning on heading to the park (we call Yellowstone “The Park” around here), but they decided to spend three extra days here in our slice of heaven.

Understandably, these folks were a little disappointed that they had driven all the way from Ohio — home of the Buckeyes, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and more nice people than there are lodgepole pine trees in the Shoshone National Forest — only to be turned away 50 miles short of the east gate.

Naturally, me being me, I felt somewhat responsible that their vacation was interrupted, and I took it upon myself to help them map out some alternatives.

We met on the porch of the Irma Hotel for coffee, and our half-hour planning session stretched to about two hours because I kept introducing some of our local characters to my new friends who all asked where they were from and made suggestions of their own about spending three extra days in Cody.

Most of the suggestions were good and were some of the same suggestions I was going to make. Included were a morning at Heart Mountain learning about Japanese Americans who spent a good portion of World War II in those barracks, a tour of the various furniture makers who take Rocky Mountain juniper and elk antlers and turn them into works of art, an afternoon at the Buffalo Bill Center of The West and its five outstanding museums and downtown checking out the various art galleries and great shops.

A couple of the suggestions were not so good. Changing the oil in one fellow’s pickup and helping another repair the fence at his ranch were not these folks’ idea of fun.

One nice lady spent the whole two hours making a list of options while her husband (I think he was a retired truck driver) got out the map and figured the most efficient way to get from one attraction to the next.

At one point a certain cowboy musician stopped by to say hello, and one of the ladies in the group introduced herself by her maiden name. Her husband was not pleased, even though she apologized profusely and claimed she did not do it on purpose.

I sent the group on its way, and for the next three days we crossed paths often. All along the way, people took it upon themselves to help this group turn their unexpected stop into a complete vacation. One local offered to show them the tepee rings where the original locals used to gather so many centuries ago while another took them on a tour of the various downtown art galleries.

I ran into the group unexpectedly on the fourth day. This was a surprise because I thought they would be making their way back to Ohio by then. Instead, the list kept getting longer and they were having such a good time they did not want leave.

In the end they did not cross everything off their list.

“Are you disappointed?” I asked.

“Not at all,” said the list maker. “This will give us something to look forward to next year when we return to head to ‘The Park.’”

Until next time, I’m living the dream in Cody Country.cartoon cowgirl with braids

Oct
15

Buffalo Bill’s Name Still Dominant

 

Let’s face it, it’s near impossible to go anywhere around here without catching on that Buffalo Bill Cody is still a dominant force. While our friendly little town was named after the man when it was founded in 1895 and incorporated in 1901, there was a whole mess of things named after Buffalo Bill after he died. Some are nearby and others are located throughout the West where he lived and died.

Here is a quick rundown.

Museums

Museum with tepee in frontThe Buffalo Bill Center of the West (BBCW) in Cody is actually five museums with the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, Firearms Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Draper Museum of Natural History and, of course, the Buffalo Bill Museum.

There is also a Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClaire, Ill. focused on life along the Mississippi River and local history and one in Golden, Colo. next to Cody’s official grave.

Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, Neb., is the home of a miniature Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. The show took 12 years to carve and contains more than 20,000 hand carved pieces – many animated.

Parks

There is the Buffalo Bill State Park just to the west of Cody featuring camping, fishing and hiking. In Nebraska there is also Buffalo Bill State Historical Park preserving 25 acres of what was Buffalo Bill’s home, Scout’sreservoir wtih mountains in the background Rest Ranch. Cody’s elegant Victorian house, built in 1886, is a museum, with numerous exhibits depicting the life and times of Buffalo Bill and other members of his Wild West Show. Cody Park and Wild West Memorial in North Platte, Neb. is a large multi-use park owned and operated by Lincoln County.

Events

Buffalo Bill Art Show adEvery September the BBCW conducts the Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale during the BBCW’s Rendezvous Royale, the town’s most prestigious event of the year. In February, the town celebrates Cody’s birthday in style with the Buffalo Bill Birthday Ball. Buffalo Bill was born in 1846 in Leavenworth, Kan. Golden hosts a festival in July called “Buffalo Bill Days” featuring a Wild West Show, classic cars and a golf tournament.

Infrastructure

West of Cody on the way to Yellowstone National Park is the Buffalo Bill Dam. Seeking to irrigate land in the Big Horn Basin, Cody and his associates asked the federal government’s ReclamationBuffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center Service –  later known as the Bureau of Reclamation – to construct a dam on the north fork of the Shoshone River. One of the first such projects undertaken by the service, the dam was the tallest in the world when it was completed in 1910. The man-made lake it created is named the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and is part of Buffalo Bill State Park.

field with mountains in the background and fenceFrom the reservoir to Yellowstone’s East Entrance, US highway 14-16-20 traverses the Wapiti Valley through the Shoshone National Forest. Once inside the forest, the highway is designated the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway. The Wapiti Valley is known for its wildlife – “wapiti” is an Indian word meaning white tail, or elk – with an abundance of deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and more. The areas closer to the park become more heavily wooded and are prime habitat for grizzly bears and moose.

Professional Sports Team

And the Buffalo Bills football team? They actually are not named after Cody. The team was named through a contest and is simply a play on words. The team has never claimed to be named after the great showman. Just thought I would throw that in for grins.

Until next week, I am lovin’ life in a small town in Wyoming.

Corrie N. Codycartoon cowgirl with braids

 

Oct
09

Fall Activities in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country

 

river with mountains in background and fall colors

While the government shutdown has closed Yellowstone National Park, Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country and the area east of the park still offer plenty of great fall activities.

Here are some reasons to visit the region:

 ·   Wildlife viewing is near its peak in the Wapiti Valley between Cody and the east gate of Yellowstone. Bears are preparing for winter, and bull elk are emitting a distinctive bugling sound to get the attention of potential mates. There are also good opportunities to see pronghorn, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and eagles.

 ·   The region offers some of the world’s finest trout streams, and Cody has more than its share of expert fishing guides. Multiple fly fishing shops offer maps and advice.

 ·   Restaurants are open, extending a wide range of ethnic foods as well as traditional fare. Two breweries have opened offering local beers, pub foods and full menus.

 ·   The town’s retail shops and art galleries display a large selection of Western paintings, leather work, furniture, sculptures and more.

 ·   Accommodations are easy to secure this time of year, and travelers have a wide array of lodging choices, from independent boutique hotels, luxury hotels, budget friendly accommodations, or bed and breakfasts

 ·   State parks are not affected by federal government closure. You can still camp, fish and hike at the Buffalo Bill State Park just west of Cody.

 ·   Outfitters lead classes and rock-climbing expeditions throughout the Cody region. The region is well-suited to climbing, with porous rock creating drainages and rock formations that appeal to climbers of all abilities. Conditions are typically good for rock climbing through October.

 ·   There are several hunting seasons in the fall – for pronghorn, deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep. Dates for each season vary, and hunters should check for details and hunting regulations at http://gf.state.wy.us/admin/Regs/.

 ·   A new book, “East of Yellowstone – A Hiker’s Guide to Cody,” features maps, photos and hike specifications such as length, time, difficulty, best season, access and landowner information for 20 regional hikes. The book was authored by JD Tanner and Emily Ressler-Tanner and is available at Sunlight Sports, a long-time Sheridan Avenue shop that provides locals and visitors alike with all of their outdoor adventure needs.

 ·   The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center at the site of the Heart Mountain Internment Camp offers a glimpse into the lives of some 14,000 Japanese-American citizens who were interned there during World War II. Opened in August 2011, the center explores that difficult period of the country’s history with thoughtful exhibits that encourage visitors to ask the question “Could this happen today?” The center is open year-round. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for children under the age of 12.

 ·   The storied life of the town’s founder, Colonel William Frederick Cody, is presented in the recently reinstalled Buffalo Bill Museum, one of five museums that comprise the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. There are also museums dedicated to firearms, fine Western Art, the Plains Indians of the region and the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

 ·   Tecumseh’s Old West Miniature Village and Museum is a massive diorama that showcases western and Wyoming history and features thousands of American Indian and other historic artifacts. The diorama is free with donations accepted and open year-round. Travelers visiting between November and April should make an appointment first by calling 307-587-5367.

 Until next time, I’m lovin’ life – and the great fall activities – here in Cody, Wyo.

Corrie N. Codycartoon cowgirl with braids

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