Howdy from Cody! The last few days have been so much fun – lots to get caught up on so will just jump in.
I crossed the border on Sunday morning and two things greeted me upon arrival: a nice turn-out for picture taking and a bronze sculpture of a bison on a hill. Welcome to Wyoming!
Cheyenne is only about 10 minutes from the Colorado border so rolled into town and discovered that almost everything was closed. Even the state capital was under renovation – the only part I could see was the dome and a bit of the roof – the rest of the building was encased in scaffolding and sheeting with big fences surrounding it. Bummer. So Juno and I strolled around the downtown, found some of the painted boots, and discovered one of the coolest/biggest pieces of street art I’ve seen. Absolutely incredible so I’m doing a separate pic so you can appreciate it properly. For you train lovers out there, I also found another Big Boy steam engine. You might recall I saw Big Boy when I was in Omaha, NE. I assumed (wrongly) that this was the only Big Boy – turns out there were 25 of them. Hot snot.
I had planned on parking in town overnight but then I heard that Curt Gowdy state park was only 30 minutes out of town so headed out there. The teenager park rangers weren’t exactly the most helpful in terms of figuring out the parking situation on the first-come, first served camping sites but I managed to get an excellent spot on my own little bluff overlooking the lake. I did the Stone Mountain circuit, a 3.75 mile loop the next morning trying to get my mountain lungs back in shape. Initially I thought Juno would be up for it but within 10 minutes, his tongue was hanging out and he was dragging behind me. So I put him back in the MoHo and off I went. No pix from the hike but here’s where the MoHo was situated. Also a pic of the park map the rangers gave me – is it just me or did she draw a penis on it?
From Cheyenne, it was off to Casper with a little detour to see the Ayres Natural Bridge. I’ve never seen a natural bridge before – I guess there aren’t that many. It’s a really pretty area and a lot of people get married under the bridge. There’s also a mini trail so you can stand on top of the bridge but the best view is from below. The Oscar the Grouch trash can lids were also a nice touch.
Casper turned out to be complete surprise. Not because of the town per se, but because of Shawn, Shane, Kyle and Cathy. Without going into all the detail on how I met them, the short story is Shawn owns a gallery – he creates these awesome one-of-a-kind antler chandeliers from elk and deer sheds (I learned they are called sheds because the deer and elk actually shed their antlers every year). He’s also a photographer (he gave me a beautiful photo), interior designer (he’s decorating a mini house) and a bunch of other stuff. Shane is Shawn’s brother. The only way to describe Shane is cowboy nerd (or nerd cowboy?) I mean this in the best way possible. He is an avid toy collector and I was lucky enough to see his toy room. The pix do not do it justice. I gave Shane my Star Wars cutting board and he gave me some cool stickers and a Chewbacca keychain. Kyle and Cathy both work with Shawn and Kyle and Cathy and had some of the more memorable lines I’ve heard this trip. Upon telling Kyle I drink tea and not coffee, his response was “Tea is for sick people.” And I overheard Cathy telling her son to “hit a ditch if a car is coming” while walking down the road to the neighbor’s house. This crew made my time in Casper so much fun and I promise to get back there soon – Cathy invited me to stay at her house out in the country with the pigs and polish chickens and Shane said I could sleep in the toy room. Notes: the pic in the lower left corner is in Shawn’s workshop – those are bullet casings around the Wyoming sign. The pic in the lower right corner was seen in a shop in town. Good stuff.
I sadly said goodbye to Casper yesterday for Cody with a stop in Thermopolis. Thermopolis is known for its dinosaur museum and the world’s largest mineral baths. I hit up both! The dino museum was super cool with tons of fossils that were uncovered near by and the baths were super hot – 104 degrees!
A quick side note on driving through Wyoming. I mentioned the buffalo sculpture earlier… that was the first of several sculptures I saw along the highway. There was also a cowboy on a horse, a bucking bronco, a jackalope and a triceratops. But even better was the sign for Wall Drug! Yep – one of their 5-cent coffee ads appeared right along Hwy 25. If I hadn’t been going 80 mph, I woulda gotten a pic. But trust me, seeing the Wall Drug sign made my day.
Okay, so I got to Cody yesterday afternoon. Just enough time for a stroll around town and dinner before the nightly rodeo. Yessiree, I saw my first rodeo last night. And it was fantastic! I sat just above the chutes so I got a great vantage point for the bucking broncos and the bull riding.
Here are three videos – bronco riding, calf roping and bull riding.
So here’s the situation on Devil’s Tower… I want to see it. Really badly. I had all these plans to go there, make a bunch of mashed potatoes, then do my best Richard Dreyfus impersonation and take a bunch of pictures. But it’s located in the NE corner of the state, and I’m in the NW corner. I would have lost an entire day going there. But here’s the kicker – when I drove from Montana to South Dakota last summer, I was about 30 minutes from it. And had no idea. Yeah, I’m kicking myself now. So that was my close encounter. Sigh.
Okay, time to wrap it up. Big day, big day. Grocery shopping, Buffalo Bill center and then I’m off to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for the next few days. Woo hoo! I will leave you with this video taken by Shane. For those of you wondering what people do in Wyoming on a Saturday night, here’s your answer:
State count: 40 !!!!