Ever since I was just a little girl I have been fascinated with the summer solstice.
My father was fond of rousting me out of bed with his favorite clichés like “Time to make hay while the sun is shining” and “Get up, we’re burning daylight.”
Some of my friends were jealous because while their schedule was determined by the clock I was always allowed to stay out until sunset, regardless of what time that was.
Even though I am a tad older, I still love the longest day of the year. In fact, one of these years I am either going to retire or take a leave of absence from my job as tourism ambassador of Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country and make a beeline due north. I want to start around Memorial Day and point my pickup and teardrop camper toward the North Pole with the goal of being as far north as I can drive on June 21. The concept of a midnight sun is fascinating, and I want to experience it soon.
Which brings me to my annual summer solstice marathon. When the sun rises June 21 at 5:31:37 a.m. (yes, I time it to the second) I will be dressed with two cups of coffee in me and heading out for my first activity of the day. Often I start by fishing a stream or on the lake at Buffalo Bill State Park, but this year I want to get my heart pumping with a good uphill hike on one of my favorite trails up the Wapiti Valley in the Shoshone National Forest. One reason I am hiking so early is that three friends will be joining me, and it is always a good plan to be in a group in case we come across wildlife or if someone turns an ankle and needs help getting back to the car.
While I am already in the area, I plan to stop at one of my favorite dude ranches for a ride on a special horse named Sunny Boy. Actually, his name is Hector, but over the years I have convinced the wranglers that one day of the year he deserves a more appropriate moniker. The wranglers gave in and now humor me.
I will head back into town for lunch and a quick check of my e-mails (just kidding) and to begin my afternoon activities. I will cool down in the early afternoon with some target practice at the Cody Firearms Experience. I love the challenge of shooting a 1911 Colt .45 and seeing how many shots hit the bullseye.
Another stop I have made up in the past few years is to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. In the midst of my longest day, I have found that a visit to this site of a WWII Japanese American internment camp is a reminder that we should respect our fellow human beings and remember ours is culture built upon many backgrounds.
At this point it should be mid- to late-afternoon, and I like to leave some flexibility. While I am not as much of a shopper as I used to be, a chest of drawers has been calling my name for a while now. In addition to being a rodeo town, tourist destination and home to a world-class museum, Cody features an absolute terrific group of furniture builders. Ever since Thomas Molesworth put us on the map by designing chairs, sofas and other pieces that he mostly sold to eastern dudes, artists/furniture makers have taken regional materials like antlers, leather, juniper trees and more to create true works of functional art.
If it’s not too close to dinner time, a sea salt caramel truffle ice cream cone will be waiting for me.
After a stop at home for a quick change of clothes, I will have a quick dinner at one of our restaurants before squeezing in some time cooling my feet and catching some rainbow trout in one our many streams. With just the sounds of the water flowing past, I will enjoy the lengthening shadows and the temperatures slowly dropping.
If all goes according to plan, I will be enjoying a conversation with friends on the porch of the Irma Hotel at 9:04:58 p.m. when the sun officially sets.
At some point I will walk home knowing that another summer solstice has been enjoyed to the fullest. It won’t be too late as I will be up early the next morning. After all, I won’t want to waste perfectly good daylight by sleeping.
Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and making hay – in Cody, Wyo.