I’m a terrific aunt. At least that’s what I like to tell myself. And every summer when little darlings come to visit Aunt Corrie here Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country, I put together a perfectly paced itinerary, with a balance of educational and cultural experiences and outdoor adventures so when they return to my sister’s house they’ll have a renewed appreciation for Cody and this bountiful region of northwestern Wyoming.
Because they adore me, and because Aunt Corrie knows best, the kids have always dutifully followed the itineraries with enthusiasm. Until this year.
Turns out these one-time knee-biters are now near-teens, and they have opinions on what we should do and where we should go. Plus, they already know a lot about the region.
For example, when we were driving home from the airport, I shared “did you knows” about the area, as I always do. “Did you know, kids, that the town of Cody is 120 years old this year?” “Of course, Aunt Corrie. And did you know that Buffalo Bill would be 170 years old this year?” I swear I heard giggling from the back seat. That’s when I knew that Aunt Corrie was no longer in charge.
The next day, I took “my” kids to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West as I always do, and I immediately headed to the Buffalo Bill Museum, because they love to see the artifacts and read the legends about Cody’s town founder, Col. Buffalo Bill Cody. They didn’t follow. At their insistence, we went outside to watch the Plains Indian Powwow, which happened to be that weekend. We spent a pleasant afternoon watching Plains Indians – decked out in colorful costumes — perform their elaborate dances while munching on fry bread. When we returned to the museum they wanted to visit the Plains Indians Museum to learn more about the culture and history of the native people of the region. “Well OK”, I said. I’m nothing if not flexible.
On Day Two of my kids’ summer visit we usually enjoy a two-hour Shoshone River float trip with one of the rafting companies in town. These family-friendly adventures are usually pretty tame, but they give you lots of great views of the wilderness and its many creatures from the safety of the boat. Not this time. Instead we booked a full-day, full-throttle, whitewater rafting trip through some of the bigger rapids. “That’s OK”, I said. I’m nothing if not flexible. “As long as no one pushes me out of the boat”, I warned.
On Day Three, we typically take a day trip into Yellowstone National Park, stop for lunch at Lake Yellowstone Hotel and then hit a couple of the viewpoints before heading home. Not this year. Instead, they insisted on a day hike and a packed lunch. So we chose the Elephant Back Loop Trail near Lake Village, a moderate hike that unveils panoramic views of Yellowstone Lake. “That’s OK”, I said. I’m nothing if not flexible. (And a little sore the next day, but don’t tell them that.)
That was the pattern of the week. They told me what they wanted to do, and we did it. By the time I put them on return flights, I was a little sunburned, a lot tired, but utterly convinced that I’d earned the “Aunt of the Year” award. That’s because before they boarded the plane, my kids shared with me a “did you know” of their own.
“Did you know, Aunt Corrie, that Yellowstone Country is totally GOAT and that you’re one of our favorite peeps?” (Translation for the middle-age-afflicted: GOAT = Greatest Of All Time, as in “groovy.” PEEPS = People, as in “Aunt Corrie, you rock.”)
Until next time, I’m reading up on teenage vernacular and staying flexible here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.