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Working Off that Extra Halloween Candy

November 6th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Most people know that I am a huge fan of the important national holidays like Christmas, Independence Day, Gene Autry’s birthday and the wedding anniversary of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

My favorite holiday, however, might be Halloween. In fact, I have developed a strategy that helps me unwind as our peak tourist season passes and we welcome cooler temperatures. Instead of a big bag of the usual miniaturized candy bars to pass out, I look for something that makes a statement. This year I found packages of candy shaped like horseshoes, cowboy boots, hats and spurs.

Who wouldn’t want a bag full of this Halloween candy?

Thinking that word would get out that I was passing out the coolest candy ever and that kids from all over town would descend upon my house, I figure I should get a little extra this year. Unfortunately, I seemed to be the only person who appreciates the incredible effort it takes to track down these delicacies on the Internet and have 23 bags shipped to my house.

I miscalculated slightly and ended up with about 19 extra bags. And that’s on top of the chocolate boots I bought and didn’t even intend to give away Read More

The Mystery of Mummy Joe

October 30th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Comments(1)

Everyone loves a good mystery, especially this time of the year when goblins, zombies and witches wander every American street with abandon. Weirdness is everywhere, and we embrace it, usually with fun-size candy bars and skeletons on our lawns.

That’s what got me to thinking about one of Cody/Yellowstone Country’s very own mysteries, the mummified, cave-dwelling 1,200-year-old remains of a man, who we fondly call “Mummy Joe.” The cave is hidden in plain sight, just a short hike from the highway.

Sixty years ago, Cody resident Gene Smith discovered a cave north of the Shoshone River in Wapiti Valley. Archaeologists later concluded it was not really a cave; it was a massive nearly enclosed overhang of a high volcanic cliff. But why dicker over semantics when there’s a mummy involved?

Mummy Cave is hidden in plain site along Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway in Wapiti Valley.

The discovery was remarkable for many reasons and archaeologists, historians and preservationists studied the remains as well as other materials found in the cave, such as wood, feathers, the remains of bighorn sheep and other large animals, wood and hide.

Bob Edgar was one of the first people to excavate and seriously study Mummy Cave.

Here’s what we know Read More

The Friendly Ghosts of the Irma Hotel

October 24th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

The Irma Hotel is one of the most recognizable buildings on Sheridan Ave., and most tourists and many locals stop at the remarkable 115-year-old hotel to watch the nightly Wild Bunch Gunfighters in the summer, enjoy the hotel’s famous prime rib dinner buffet, admire the room-long Cherrywood bar that was gifted to Buffalo Bill by England’s Queen Victoria and shop in the hotel’s awesome Emporium.

The Irma Hotel is one of Cody’s most recognizable landmarks, and nearly everyone who visits town stops at the historic hotel.

According to some believers, tourists and locals aren’t the only ones observing all the fun at the hotel that Buffalo Bill Cody built and named for his daughter Irma. The Irma Hotel, they say, is home to friendly ghosts, who float through the halls, hang out in a few of the rooms, make mischief in the dining room and – in their best Hogwarts imitation – float in and out of a photograph on the wall of the dining room.

Buffalo Bill Cody built the Irma Hotel and named it for his daughter in 1902.

Let me be clear; I don’t know what to think. While the Practical Corrie is convinced there is always a rational Read More

Home Sweet Crazy Home

October 10th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

In just a few weeks, many people in Cody/Yellowstone Country will become zombified. Even the sweet faces of innocent little children will begin appearing around town with blood dripping from their foreheads as they cling to the guiding hands of grown-ups, attired in bloody, shredded apparel.

Scary, crazy decorations are appearing at homes throughout town.

I love this time of year, and not just the candy and costumes. As adults, teens, kids and infants embrace their First Amendment right to express their inner wacko, Halloween is a reminder that a little quirk can be good for the soul.

Kids and grownups alike embrace their quirky sides as they don costumes for trick-or-treating in downtown Cody.

Perhaps that’s what Lee Smith thought 44 years ago when he began building a multi-story log house in wildlife-rich Wapiti Valley by hand, a process that lasted until he fell to his death from the roof in 1992 at the age of 48. We locals have many names for that lonely, decrepit house – the Smith Mansion and Pagoda House are the kindest references. Some people just call it the Crazy House.

Buffalo Bill, whose entire life was quirky, would have liked the Crazy House.

Anyone who drives Read More

The Art of Cody Yellowstone Country

October 5th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

Earlier this month, nearly 700 people from around the United States gathered in a huge tent on a cold, rainy autumn evening to view – and buy – some of the best new Western artwork in the country. And in the process, they raised more than $1 million to support the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Cody Chamber of Commerce.

The Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale, sponsored by the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Cody Chamber of Commerce is the biggest fundraising event of the year in Cody.

Patrons from all over the country don their finest Western attire, which like the art they come to purchase, is a feast for the eyes. Ladies in luxurious fringe and glittering jewels and men in their best bolos gathered under a heated tent outside the Center of the West to peruse the crown jewels of the Western art world.

There were big paintings and small paintings, bronze reliefs and sculptures, watercolors and pencil drawings. They were created by artists from around the country who share a common passion for all things Western. The patrons in attendance were in a generous mood.

Always ready to support the advancement of Cody Read More

Winter is Coming. Let’s Layer Up and Go...

September 25th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

 Last week the National Park Service briefly closed some park roads due to snowy conditions. That same day, I dug my ice scraper out of the back of my Subaru so I could clear my windshield of early-morning frost. And then I went fishing.

In some parts of the country, the months of September and October are a reliable extension of summer, with warm temperatures, sunshine and a continuation of summer adventures. And to a certain degree that’s also true here in Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.

Most days during the fall months are mild and pleasant. We usually see some snow, but it typically doesn’t hang around too long. There are still plenty of days left for outdoor adventures like fishing, golfing and hiking. As long as you wear the right stuff.

Golfers like to get in a few more rounds before packing away their clubs for winter. The Olive Glen Golf Course is located right in town.

There’s an old Norwegian saying: “there’s no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothing.” Anyone who lives in Yellowstone Country knows this is true. This time of year, we keep those base layers, wool socks and water-resistant pants handy. But we also keep much Read More

An Elk Encounter in Yellowstone Country

September 19th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Comments(1)

I heard my first bugle yesterday.

As I sometimes do when I can’t sleep, I took an early-morning drive to Buffalo Bill State Park just west of town and sat at a picnic table near the parking lot to await the sunrise. Watching Yellowstone Country awaken somehow energizes me, and when I see the sun rise above the water I know that my day is off to a great start.

Except for the occasional car or truck heading west towards Yellowstone on the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway, I was alone with my latte. I could see slight ripples in the water and hear a light wind rustling the sagebrush. The quiet sounds of an autumn morning in Yellowstone Country were breached – quite jarringly – by a male elk. I didn’t see him in the dawn light at first. But I certainly heard him.

As Corrie discovered, elk are often most active at dawn and dusk.

His bugle started as sort of a low-octave whistle, but it quickly escalated to a high-pitched squeal. It is a sound that is wild, grating and not particularly pleasant, particularly when you’re still on your first coffee of the day. It’s not meant to be a pleasant Read More

The Bear Necessities

September 11th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

While people in various parts of the country are celebrating kids returning to school and football season getting underway, I am eagerly anticipating my own Wyoming tradition.

Watching bears getting ready to hibernate.

During the fall, bears and nuts go together like gardeners and zucchini. It is the time to gorge, and you can never have too much. One significant difference: gardeners are likely to share their zucchini, but I wouldn’t recommend asking bears to share their nuts. Unless you’re nuts.

Grizzlies and black bears in Yellowstone Country are busy gathering and gorging on the abundant berries and pine nuts in the region’s dense forests to fatten up before spending the winter months in a quasi-dream state in their cozy dens while living off the fat they built up during the summer and fall months. Doesn’t that sound heavenly? This stage where they eat everything in sight is called hyperphagia, and bears can gain up to four pounds in a single day. For some perspective, just think of a teenage boy going through a growth spurt.

Getting ready to den takes planning and preparation, and much like the human species, some bears begin working on their winter homes months in advance, while others wait Read More

The Lessons of Heart Mountain

September 5th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

If you have a chance, I highly recommend tracking down a Today Show segment by Tom Brokaw about the Heart Mountain World War II Interpretive Center and the relationship between former congressman and cabinet member Norman Mineta and our own Alan Simpson, former U.S. Senator.

Please allow me to summarize.

This year we are commemorating the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, signed Feb. 19, 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This order resulted in more than 100,000 citizens of Japanese heritage being incarcerated in various prison camps throughout the West.

Located 14 miles northeast of Cody, Heart Mountain was home to some 14,000 people between August 1942 and November 1945.

Arriving primarily from California and Washington, these incarcerated Americans were clustered in small, rapidly built quarters after being forced from their homes. As a result, they lost their homes, jobs, businesses and most of their possessions. They came with only what they could carry, and they had no idea how long they would be confined. They lived their lives, created a community, established life-long friendships, and more than 800 of them joined the military and fought for the country that had stripped them of their freedom.

Among those citizens at Heart Mountain was a Read More

Packing Your Patience

August 28th, 2017 by Park County Travel Council | Be the first to comment!

You might have heard there was a total solar eclipse the other day.

We here in Wyoming were fortunate to have a huge portion of our state smack dab in the middle of this event, and believe me, it did not disappoint. If I had my way, we would do this every day in the summer. Sort of like our Cody Nite Rodeo which operates from June 1 through August 31.

Wyoming was well-positioned for the eclipse.

Here in Cody we “only” had 98 percent obscuration, and the show was incredible. As much as I enjoyed watching the moon pass in front of the sun – using my approved glasses which I picked up at our visitor center – what really got to me was the number of people who just stopped what they were doing to walk outside and enjoy this experience. Locals and tourists chatting each other up is nothing out of the ordinary, but there were so many of us that I will be shocked if I ever see many people in our town shaking hands and putting aside their cares at the same time.

My friends inside Yellowstone National Park tell me they saw similar scenes with bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go Read More