The summer solstice was last week, and I truly do get excited about it. In fact, I like to make a game out of cramming in as much as possible on June 21 each year. I call it my Cody in a day marathon.
Perhaps it’s because of the memories from my childhood when we used to stay outside playing as long as the light held out. At that point all of the kids were still excited about school being done for the year, and most of us were not even thinking about summer vacations or extended visits to our grandparents’ houses. Now that I think about it, it was my parents who were the most eager to send us to bond with Grandma and Grandpa.
I have always been one of those people who cannot go to sleep while it’s still light out, and I am quick to wake up on summer mornings. It’s a good thing I live in such a terrific vacation destination like Cody.
Because the solstice fell on a Saturday this year, I can go all out knowing that I have all day Sunday to recuperate.
Here was my plan:
I will start out “Cody Palooza” by fishing on the lake at Buffalo Bill State Park. I enjoy fly fishing the many rivers and streams in the area, but I like to mix things up a bit by going after rainbow, brown lake and cutthroat trout in the park.
Once the sun starts to move up, I will pack away my gear and head west through the Wapiti Valley (“wapiti” is an American Indian word meaning white tail which the local tribes used for elk) to meet a friend for a horseback ride at one of our guest ranches.
The area has more than a dozen such properties, and I try to visit and experience as many as I can throughout the year. These ranches are often called “dude” ranches, and we can make the claim that the term originated here back in the late 1800s when easterners paid good money to come to the area and chip in on the chores. Dude was the name coined by locals to describe those particular clients.
On the way back into town I will stop by Old Trail Town. Most people are familiar with the old homesteader cabins there, but I also like to pay my respects to Jeremiah “Liver Eating” Johnston and the others who are buried there on the property.
Since I am right there where the river rafters put in, I plan on joining one of the shorter trips. Most people don’t realize that the North Fork of the Shoshone River runs so close to downtown, but it is so convenient and easy to get on the river and raft.
I will then head into town because I will need a little quiet time to reflect and recharge. There is a gallery on Sheridan Avenue that carries some locally made jewelry, and I have had my eye on a “story teller” bracelet that will help me recharge just fine. A certain member of a band that plays at a popular hangout promised me that he would buy it if I could two-step for a complete set of music last Friday night. Silly boy. That bracelet is going to look good on my wrist.
All of this activity will more than burn off the calories in a large ice cream cone, and there are a couple of places downtown to choose from. I will buy the cone myself.
Since I will be so close, I plan to watch the Cody Gunfighters put on their performance. Every night is a new crowd, and I like to chat up these visitors before the blanks start popping and the jokes get people laughing.
There will be time for dinner afterwards, but I have not decided where to eat yet. Our choices have increased in the past few years, and I like to play it by ear.
It will then be a coin flip as to whether I stay in town to listen to one of my favorite bands or head out to the rodeo grounds. Music or rodeo. I can’t lose.
As daylight finally starts to give out, I plan on being in position to watch the sun set over Spirit Mountain. I think of Buffalo Bill Cody at times like that because our local legend states that Bill is buried on that mountain overlooking town and not in a grave on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado. I like to believe that story almost as much as telling it to people. Especially to people from Golden. Some of them just don’t have a sense of humor about that topic.
At that point I expect I will be ready to call it a day. Unless a certain band member wants to bet matching earrings on my dancing abilities.
If you are in town for the next summer solstice – and think you can keep up – join me for the day.
If you do, I am sure you will be lovin’ life as much as I do in Cody, Wyo.