Heading West: Winter in June and Buffalo Bill

We leave Deirdre’s house early in the morning. We have a long way to go.

We drive up Interstate 25, stop in Buffalo and then, Sheridan. It’s Memorial Day and the town is shut down. Even the J.C. Penney is closed. There’s a steady drizzle and I keep hoping that any moment, the sun will poke through the clouds. But not looking good today.

We think we might have lunch before the long drive ahead and step into the only place open: The Sheridan Palace Restaurant. A great big bear skin adorns the wall behind the cash register. The waitress is frantic. Why did they have to display the “Open” sign so prominently today. It’ a holiday for God’s sake. Who are all these people hungering for eggs, bacon or maybe a hamburger served with a mountain of fries?

It takes way too long to get our omelette. Then we begin the climb upward. We have to cross the Big Horn Mountains to reach Cody, home to the greatest museum in the West, save, perhaps, the Getty in Los Angeles. We drive higher and higher and then, the white stuff begins to fall and we are in the midst of a winter wonderland. Yes, winter, on the last day of May, when in Atlanta, my garden has already started to burn up without regular watering.

The white is majestic. I am not accustomed to such scenes. Kevin grew up in upstate New York. And even to him, the snow is amazing at this time of year. We step out of the car and marvel at the snow banks. They are almost as tall as me.

At Shell Falls, we walk down icy steps to gaze at a scene worthy of National Geographic. Torrents of water gushing down a snowy canyon. I kiss the cold stuff and we are on to Buffalo Bill.

At the museum, I marvel at how the pioneers lived. How there were colored folks here, besides the native Americans of course. I have to admit I did not know that much about the colorful life of William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody; that he received the Medal of Honor in 1872 for service as an Army scout. I gaze at a woolen suit worn by Annie Oakley, stitched finely enough to make the House of Chanel proud. There are rooms and rooms filled with native American pottery, bead work, baskets and blankets.

If you ever have a chance to visit this museum, do so. It’s a treasure.

We head west to the Absaroka mountains, through the Shoshone National Park and arrive at our mountain cabin. We eat trout in a dining room warmed by a wood stove, in front of another bear skin on the wall. Tomorrow, we must get up early for Yellowstone.

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