In my family I am hands-down the favorite aunt. It’s a rite of passage in my family to send the kids to visit me here in Cody Yellowstone so that I can indoctrinate the next generation into the joys of listening to cowboy music, riding horses, gazing at geysers and learning that history is more than stories found in a book.
I once heard “the cousins” comparing notes about their trips out West and what they liked best about spending a week with Auntie Corrie. They all had their favorite attractions, and I loved hearing them talk about whether or not Old Trail Town was better than the Wild West Shootout or who served the best ice cream in town.
I do worry that they might be getting a little too entitled when they argue which hotel rooms in Yellowstone National Park have the best views and which restaurants serve the best prime rib, but they are all good kids who understand the value of hard work.
And while she doesn’t know it yet, my favorite niece is coming to visit this summer after missing her annual trip to see me last summer.
You see, my niece’s mother has a thing about sending her daughter only on non-stop flights. Personally, I think you could drop this young woman at just about any airport in the world and she would quickly figure out what it would take to get back to her home in Chicago.
In 2014 United Airlines introduced weekly non-stop flights to and from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Cody, Wyoming’s Yellowstone Regional Airport. Through the summer of 2017 I was fortunate to bond with my niece as we spent a week each summer hiking (“Much better than the sidewalks in Des Plaines”), riding (“I wonder if my mom will let me have a horse”), learning (“This will make my American history paper so much easier”) and listening to Dan Miller albums (“Sorry, but he’s no Justin Bieber”).
Unfortunately, the non-stop flights were discontinued in 2018 as the airline focused on other routes.
But – cue the hallelujah music – the flights will resume this summer.
The airline will also add a flight to and from Cody and Denver International Airport for a total of four daily non-stop flights each way between the two airports.
I have always felt a strong connection with Midwesterners, and not just because so many of my relatives live there. Buffalo Bill Cody was born in Illinois while Annie Oakley came from Ohio. Many of our townspeople are transplants from the Great Lakes area, and everybody has friends or relatives of their own from that part of the country.
A look at the license plates on any given day will confirm that we welcome visitors from all over the country.
And this year, I will have a special guest from the Windy City.
Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and trying to figure out if I know any Justin Bieber songs – in Cody Yellowstone.