East vs. West
I went home to the Midwest this last weekend, and was struck by how close together the towns are back there compared to out here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country!
When I talk to visitors, one of the common topics of conversation is “Gee, how do you handle the isolation?” Folks are so struck by the distances between communities out here. I have to admit, when we first moved out west, it was a little hard to get used to – where I’m from, there’s about 3 miles between little towns… out here, there’s at least 15-25 miles between towns!
The fun part about that is that there is such diversity between towns here, where back east it seems one town kind of runs into another. For example, Cody really feels like a western town – Old Trail Town, the Irma Hotel, the nightly gunfights in summer, the western-themed downtown shopping… they all contribute to the wild west feel that Buffalo Bill Cody set the scene for when he envisioned this jumping-off point to Yellowstone National Park. In contrast, Powell is very much an agriculture-based community, and also is home to the only community college in northwest Wyoming. Meeteetse, to the south, is a small ranching town with boardwalks, a local museum and a couple of old-fashioned bar and grill restaurants.
And there are such stand-out features and attractions in each town! Cody’s Buffalo Bill Historical Center draws visitors to the town all the time – many visitors I’ve met have remarked that they had passed through Cody years before and had always meant to come back to spend time at the museum. Viewers of RFD-TV watched Dan Miller and his daughter Hannah on “Larry’s Country Diner” in April, and made their plans to come to Cody to see his Cowboy Music Revue based on that! And, of course, most everyone has planned a trip to Yellowstone National Park, either as a child, or as parents who want their children to experience the wild west here in Yellowstone Country.
Then in Powell, there’s the Homesteader Museum, celebrating and preserving the way of life that brought settlers to this part of the country. There are farm and ranch tours available through the Powell Chamber of Commerce for those who want to get an in-depth look at the agriculture industry that shapes this region. And there’s Northwest College, which is the cultural center to the community.
Meeteetse, by contrast, is a throwback to a simpler way of life. As the central gathering place for local ranchers, Meeteetse’s most high-profile business is actually a fancy chocolate shop! The Meeteetse Chocolatier, Tim Kellogg, has been a working ranch hand and rodeo cowboy for years, but in the last few years has become world-renowned for his amazing chocolate confections and pastries. If you stroll the boardwalks in downtown Meeteetse, you can enjoy your chocolate truffle while sitting on a quiet bench near some potted flowers, watching the traffic go by… then step into the Meeteetse Museum, where they have preserved the history of ranching in the Meeteetse area (complete with a brand new display dedicated to the re-discovery of the Black Footed Ferret 30 years ago on the Pitchfork Ranch). Have lunch at the Elkhorn Bar and Grill, and feel like you’ve stepped back in time 50 years.
And then there’s the benefit of the beautiful drives between towns! Drivers from Cody to Powell are under the constant watch of the impressive Heart Mountain – which also lent its name to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Centerbetween the two communities (the Japanese American Internment Camp during World War II). And the drive from Cody to Meeteetse is filled with turns and hills that lead you to the beauty of the mountain foothills where Meeteetse is nestled.
So, despite our “isolation” here, each community has a uniqueness that makes it stand out – and makes it worth the trip! I know I’m sure glad to live here…
Until next time, I’ll be lovin’ life in Buffalo Bill’s Country!