Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Yee-Haw – Welcome to Cody, Wyoming

Yes, 530 miles from Columbia Falls, Montana to Cody, Wyoming! Whew! We were worried about the weather in the Cody area as we departed Columbia Falls around 8 A.M. back on May 26th. We drove about 120 miles due south to Missoula, Montana where we picked up I-90 eastbound. We drove about 4 hours east to Laurel, Montana before turning south for the remaining couple of hours into Cody. It started raining in Laurel and the wind picked up to somewhere around 30 MPH. What else could happen? How about a construction zone that lasted for 30 miles. Pretty heavy rain and blowing sand, and now mud flying everywhere. We think our Jeep towed car has a mind of its own because when we got into Cody around 6 P.M. the little muddy devil had a dead battery! What a mess. It took two trips through a car wash the next morning and a little hand detailing to get it back near normal. Well, anyway, welcome to Cody!

They welcomed us at the Ponderosa Campground for our 7 days stay in Cody. This RV Park turned out to have one of the nicest and helpful staffs of any RV Park we have stayed during the last 2 years. Everyone was knowledgeable about the area including how many miles and time it would take to get various places. Really helpful!

Our second day was filled with visiting the “Buffalo Bill” Center of the West Museum. It contains five museums in one, including the Draper Natural History Museum, the Plains Indian Museum, the Cody Firearms Museum, the Whitney Western Art Museum and the Buffalo Bill Museum which chronicles the life of William F. Cody, for whom the historical center is named. The historical center maintains large collections. It is a favorite stopping point for tourists passing through the town, on their way to or from Yellowstone National Park.
William F. Cody

Janet with hologram of William F. Cody
"Buffalo Bill"
This is truly one of the most comprehensive museums I have ever been to visit. The firearms section alone has weapons that go back a couple hundred years. Hundreds of them! Absolutely amazing!

We took the opportunity to get some of the preventative maintenance things done to the coach. Our day’s sightseeing effort was actually slowed down due to the weather uncertainty of an incoming electrical storm.

Our third day in Cody we basically rested by taking in some of the downtown establishments. Plenty of the old west motif that had been renovated through the years. Many decent restaurants and the usual amount of tourist type shops from Western art to funny T-shirts, and plenty of jewelry.

We stayed close to Cody this fourth day. We took in the unique and eye opening experience of visiting the WWII Japanese internment camp at Heart Mountain. It is about 6 miles east from downtown Cody. This was one of the ten internment camps in the country. This camp housed nearly 12,000 Japanese during the last three years of WWII. Many were citizens of the U.S.A. While this was a huge complex during that time period, all that remains today is the memorial, a couple of dilapidated buildings with a smoke stack, a guard tower, and a new and wonderful modern history building. A variety of presentations and artifacts are available. Many photographs and newspaper articles, personal stories, etc. For my relatives and friends in the southwest, there is another of these internment camps, known as Manzanar, just off of Highway-395, near Lone Pine, California. Somewhat bone-chilling and somewhat sad to visit, but well worth the history lesson.

During the afternoon we visited the Buffalo Bill Dam. It is about 5 miles west out of Cody towards Yellowstone. The dam was built from 1905 to 1910 and was the biggest of its time. It harnesses the water that is fed to the Shoshone River that passes by the edge of Cody. Naturally behind the dam the water sits in a huge reservoir.

By dinner time the sky didn’t look like it was going to produce a storm so we ventured to downtown Cody to visit the old Irma Hotel. This was built in 1903 by Buffalo Bill and named after his daughter. Today the hotel is the center of a gun fight that takes place each evening during the summer commemorating the excitement of the early west. It is well attended by the many tourists that flock to this area. The bar in the Irma Hotel served beer for $2 a bottle, and mixed drinks for $4 during the shootout. Old world prices! We had dinner at Zapata’s thus quenching our Mexican habit.

Our fifth day saw us head out to the far unknowns of the northern Rocky Mountains looking for the small tourist haven of Red Lodge, Montana. Elevation at Cody is just short of 5,000 feet, and yes we could have taken a more commercial path to get to Red Lodge but we chose the road LESS traveled. That took us up to Beartooth Pass where the elevation is just short of 10,000 feet. While the roads were dry and clean there was plenty of snow off the sides of the road. Eight to ten feet in some instances! The views were beyond majestic. At one point the view from south to north was snow covered peaks for as far as the eye could see in both directions. An unforgettable view that is going to be poorly depicted in a photo I will insert.

We drove around Red Lodge getting the flavor of things. Eventually we had lunch in Red Lodge at Bogart’s. A nifty bar and grill on the main street. We visited some of the local shops including “Scoops”, an ice cream parlor with very creamy flavors. The best we have had since Kapaws Iskreme in Coupeville, Whidbey Island, Washington. Which, by the way, is the best  ice cream I have EVER had, ANYWHERE!

It took us about 2-1/2 hours to get to Red Lodge going by way of the Chief Joseph Highway and through the Beartooth Pass. It took us about one hour to get back to Cody on the road MOST traveled. This day will never be forgotten!

Our sixth day, the day before we departed Cody, was spent prepping for the traveling adventure the next day. Cleaning the motorhome and getting things in their place, etc. Trying to make the move as uneventful as possible. Once again we will probably be taking the road less traveled. I have heard there is no snow at the top of the Powder River Pass, elevation 9,665 feet, in the Big Horn National Forest. Our path from Cody was through Greybull, WY, Worland, WY, over the pass, to Buffalo, WY, to Interstate-90 in Gillette, WY, and on into Sturgis, South Dakota. A trip of 350 miles.

Still enjoying the wonders of the U.S.A. I’ll let you know how this trip went later. In the meantime you can guess that it went safely because it was almost three weeks ago! As usual, I'm getting caught up.

Dave & Janet, the BooniePeople

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