7/16-8/9/2022 Cheyenne, Thermopolis, Cody

I am a little behind here again, we’ve traveled back east for the birth of our first grandchild, and I have just been immersed in that experience as well as visiting with loved ones. I plan to make another post after this one in celebration of our on year on the road anniversary. We will share some of our favorite things, a few fun facts, and some of what we learned.

Our first stop on this leg was Cheyenne, Wyoming. We were there for the famous Frontier Days and attended the rodeo. We have seen many, but nothing of this caliber, it was an amazing event, followed by a Dierks Bentley concert. Outside of that, we didn’t find Cheyenne to be a noteworthy place. In fact, I would say it was one of those towns that kind of hasn’t caught up with the times. We did stay at a working buffalo ranch, and that was interesting in some ways. I would look out the window while making dinner and see them out in the field.

From there we headed to Thermopolis. The drive up from Cheyenne was very boring, mostly just yellow fields. However, for history buffs this route does cross parts of the Oregon Trail, and the scene of the Sand Creek Massacre which was a bloody battle between our military and several Native American Tribes. The only town along the route is Casper, which we only stopped in to eat. I hadn’t realized that Wyoming is our least populated state, but after having seen so much of it now that is clear.

Thermopolis is a small town of about 3000 people and features some of the worlds largest hot springs. If you have been following, you know we love us some soak time! The springs are located in Hot Springs State Park, which also has a small herd of Buffalo. There are two commercial outfits that you can pay to stay the day, and one the park runs for free with a limited time soaking. We found out the locals prefer the TeePee Pools, so that’s what we chose. They have many pools in different temps, steam room, dry sauna, spa tubs, etc. We spent close to two hours there and were a relaxed pile of mush as we left!

On the way in you go through Wind River Indian Reservation, and it’s beautiful. As you leave the reservation and go towards town there is a place where they call “Wedding of the Waters” and the river from there is called the Big Horn River. We didn’t quite understand it, but it seems to be the way they separate the wind river basin from another basin in the north. We did try our hand at continuing to learn how to fly fish there, but our inexperience combined with the bigger river showed us we have a lot to learn! It seems a lot of visitors choose float trips there, where we are used to the bank or being in the river.

Thermopolis was a beautiful place, but has a lot of poverty and closed businesses. We were surprised to find their Wyoming Dinosaur Center museum had Smithsonian level displays, with many of the dinosaur bones and other fossils found within the region. They have an option to tour some of their dig sites, and they had a window where you could watch some of their scientists working to excavate various bones and fossils that have recently been brought in.

From there, we headed to Cody. Cody is the only place we have chosen to stay that we have visited already in the past. We were there in 2019 with our son for a few days as part of a bigger tour of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. On our past visit, we took a tour of the town, visited their living museum called “old trail town” where they have many historical structures from the old west, and we attended the rodeo.

This time we decided to take in the Buffalo Bill Museum of the West, which was interesting. They had a large collection of things from Buffalo Bills military scouting days and from his Wild West Show. They also had a natural museum of Wyoming, another focused on the Native American heritage of the area that boasted a buffalo skin teepee that was a rare save. It still had some of the designs drawn on it. There was also a gun museum, which Ed enjoyed while I took a break.

We also made the long drive to Yellowstone. We hadn’t spend that much time on that side of the park and thought we would go and see what wildlife we might spot. It was a gorgeous drive. We chose a hiking trail that ended up being pretty non-eventful, and took in the sights of Yellowstone Lake. Also, somehow when we last visited we never made it to Artist’s point, so we made sure to include it this time.

There was one noteworthy landmark on the way to Yellowstone. Someone has put a Big Boy statue in the middle of a field. It’s such a mainstay that a while back people were calling the radio stations and police when they saw it was missing. What was actually happening is that someone took it to have it repainted, and it’s back standing out there in it’s glory. No idea where it originally came from but for sure someone has a sense of humor.

The best part of this whole leg of the trip, and maybe a highlight for the year was driving over Beartooth pass to Red Lodge. These are gorgeous mountains with unparalleled beauty. While we enjoyed Mount Lemon in Tuscon and Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, this was above and beyond those experiences. We met a herd of mountain goats too, which was icing on the cake. I think we both felt this was the most scenic drive we have taken this year, and that says a lot.

Red Lodge was also a cool little mountain town, we stopped and looked around and had dinner. We took the shorter drive back because they are doing some extensive road work up on the mountain and the road is currently closed from 7pm-7am daily. By the looks of it, they will not be done with that any time soon.

Other than that, we just enjoy Cody. The downtown is full of historical buildings, including Buffalo Bill’s hotel that he named for his daughter Irma. We took a few hikes near the river, and I finally went to a hair salon after 6 months. The last time I had gone we were in Ruidoso, NM which I believe was in February. I don’t have much grey yet, so I got away with no color and I had trimmed my own hair a few times. This is so not who I used to be, but I would rather be outside having fun than worrying over that stuff. I did want to look good for meeting our new grandson so I made time!

From there, we headed to Billings, Montana as that was where we were flying out from. We stored our RV, and headed to the luxurious Dude Rancher Inn. If you didn’t sense the sarcasm there, it was in a poor state. I always just book near the airport and try to get something reasonably priced, after all it’s just one night. This one, I wouldn’t do again. The AC was broken, though they were nice enough to leave us 3 fans. And, it was just run down. But, on the upside it’s a historical place, and for those who like haunted stuff they claim to have a few haunted rooms. As for us, we are just haunted by the experience 😉 But, like most everything, we just laugh about it.

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