Cody - Cowboy Country

Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
Trip End Jun 23, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Sunday, June 20, 2010

We left Yellowstone this morning via the East Entrance and headed toward Cody.  The drive through Sylvan Pass was breath-taking, in more ways than one!  Mostly it was beautiful, but those steep canyon drop-offs and curvy, downhill roads are also nerve-wracking!  Again....where are the guardrails???!!  I had majorly sweaty palms and was so thankful for the available low gear in our trusty 4WD Pathfinder.

After officially leaving Yellowstone, the scenery changed pretty quickly.  It soon looked like the landscape in a typical western movie - open stretches of sagebrush with smaller cliffs in the distance, the kind a lone Indian on a horse would appear on.  Passed the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Dam which looked like an excellent recreation area.  Also went through three tunnels that were cut right into the cliffs.  They're different from the tunnels in West Virginia which are finished on the inside with concrete or tile-looking blocks.  These tunnels were just the bare rock inside.  Just before each entrance there was a sign "Watch for Falling Rock".  Does anyone else find that disconcerting?

Buffalo Bill Museum

We arrived in Cody and went straight to the Buffalo Bill Museum.  Nathan was fascinated by the firearms section of the museum.  He'd never seen so many guns in one place before!  I don't think any of us had.  I liked the western art, especially the sculptures, and the Plains Indians exhibits best.  One wall display told a story of displacement that brought tears to my eyes.  I hate that part of our American history.  The Buffalo Bill exhibit was quite interesting too.  I found the grainy video of one of his Wild West shows fascinating and Bill Cody himself to be a much more tender and loving man than I expected, based on some letters on display.  We finished up in the natural history exhibit which talked a lot about the ecology of Yellowstone as well as the native plants, birds and animals of the area.

The Plains Indian Pow-wow was going on this weekend too, and as much as I thought I wanted to go, the boys didn't seem too interested and after going through the Plains Indian exhibit at the museum, it seemed almost intrusive to go stare at them.  I'm not sure how to explain it, but it almost felt like we'd be odd guests at a family reunion.

By 4:00 we were ready to check into our hotel.  We were staying at a Best Western right on the main road.  It didn't look like much from the outside, but our room was very nice and the lobby had two complimentary computers for guest use which, of course, made Aaron happy.  They also have a complimentary breakfast so we won't have to eat in our room tomorrow morning which will be a nice change of pace.

We went to Cassie's Supper Club for dinner.  I'd heard it was kind of a honky-tonk western bar and dining room with live music and a dance floor and thought it would be a fun place to eat and people watch.  Unfortunately I'd forgotten it was Father's Day (oops!) and the place was pretty much taken up with reservations.  They were able to seat us, but it was in a side room with a view of nothing.  But the steaks were delicious and we could still hear the music.  I'd like to try it again - reservations in advance!

Cody Nite Rodeo

Afterwards we headed down the road to the Cody Nite Rodeo.  None of us had been to a rodeo before and weren't sure what to expect.  Aaron had a pretty bad attitude about it - Why do we have to go? It's so redneck. (He's such a culture snob!)  But I said if we were in the cowboy state and staying in the town known for it's nightly rodeo, by golly we were going to go to the rodeo!  And it ended up being a ton of fun!  First, you had to get past the initial whiff of large animals, manure and hay.  Then if you happened to be anything other than a God-fearing American Christian Republican, you had to either laugh or have thick skin.  The night started with the announcer saying a prayer that ended in Jesus' name, then throughout the evening he and the lead rodeo clown down in the arena bantered back and forth praising our troops, making jokes about various Democrats and referring to the Obama stimulus plan as a pile of manure!  I wondered what the foreign tourists thought of all that!?!!  Our politically correct son was a bit shocked, but Kevin and I thought it was a hoot!

The actual rodeo was pretty great. We sat in the buzzard's roost which is the area above the pens where the cowboys get onto the horses/bulls for the bucking contests. (Forgive me for not knowing all the correct names for every event.)  Nathan was taken aback by the calf roping.  He didn't realize that after the calf is roped the cowboy jumps off his horse, body slams the calf and then ties its legs together!  His mouth was hanging open in shock!  And he was also bummed that he didn't get to participate in the calf chase.  It was only for kids 12 and under.  But he was talking like a big shot saying if he were down there, he'd body slam a calf just like those cowboys had.  Yeah, right. 

I liked the girls' barrel racing.  They had girls, juniors and pee-wee events.  Only one little girl, just 5 years old, was in the pee-wee event and she was absolutely precious!  Her horse basically walked the pattern while she bounced along.  At one point her horse tried to get off track and she was just kicking her little legs and shaking those reins.  Her mom was starting to come out to help her, but she managed that horse on her own and finished the event.  Adorable!  On the flip side of that was this crazy bull who did NOT want to be in that pen and did NOT want that strap put on.  He was going wild trying to climb out of the pen and almost made it a couple of times.  When it came time for the bull riding contest, we felt sorry for the cowboy who was riding him!  Once that gate opened and the bull was loose....let's just say that cowboy didn't last anywhere close to 8 seconds!!!

Another great day and Aaron admitted that the rodeo was one of his favorite things that we'd done!
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