Kickin’ it Up in Cody

August 10, 2013

Posted By: Bozemama

I have found that hosting guests in Bozeman comes with a certain amount of pressure. There is something about the lore and legend of this place that fuels people’s imaginations about what to anticipate while they’re here. Whether it’s a 12-inch rainbow, gnarly rapids, fresh powder or bucking broncos, folks do expect something special when they visit and I hate to disappoint them, especially because I’m not exactly sure about how to get up close and personal with any of the things I just listed.

But last week something extraordinary happened, and it was wonderful. Hermione, Charlie and I had the pleasure of hosting our dear old friends the Moores, who flew in from Baltimore with visions of bison and cowboys and – best of all – a detailed itinerary dancing in their heads. Yes, it’s true. Our houseguests showed us the sights.

My dear college pal Anna Moore and I have been traveling buddies for 25 years. We’re like Thelma and Louise without the felonies (almost) and suicidal tendencies (kinda). In college, our quest for cute boys led us from Baltimore to Annapolis and Rehoboth Beach; in our twenties, we continued this crucial, life-altering work in France and Italy. In our thirties, we hunted for thinning spa treatments and cocktails during postpartum getaway weekends. I would follow her anywhere and not just because she is funny and smart and fabulous, but because she is an expert planner.

I do love a plan, but I’m an amateur compared to Anna. I’m the type who does hours of exhaustive and impractical research about a place, sets dreamy expectations, tries to squeeze too much into too little time, gives up and then ends up winging it with mixed results. (Things usually work out, but I’m pretty sure that if it weren’t for the map on my phone, my kids and I would have gone missing years ago.) Anna, on the other hand, is so organized that she has perfected the act of planning an itinerary into an art and a science by allowing for fun, downtime and spontaneity for everyone involved. And the craziest part of this whole thing is that Anna’s husband, Henry, and their kids (11-year-old Hannah and 8-year-old Teddy) happily follow her and rarely complain. It’s like magic.

And so what, you must be wondering, did Anna’s itinerary look like? After a few days in Bozeman and Chico, which included hiking, riding, eating and soaking, we headed down to Cody, Wyoming for two days of foolproof family fun. Here’s a breakdown of what we did and what you should do in this fabulous town before summer’s end:

Day One

Head straight for the Buffalo Bill Historical Center , which is a Smithsonian affiliate, where the admission price includes visitation for two consecutive days.  With five museums “celebrating the spirit of the American West,” this place has so much to offer that you’ll want to get your ticket as soon as you can. Once you have your ticket, you can come and go as you please.

Take a stroll down the main drag of Sheridan Avenue. Window shop and buy ice cream. While Cody is a seasonal destination and has the tourist traps to prove it, there are some lovely galleries and boutiques, including Rockstar Cowgirl, which has three full walls of the most drool-worthy handmade boots I’ve ever seen. You can’t touch them (unless you are actually trying them on) or photograph them (which I learned after the fact), but you can buy them if you have an extra couple thousand bucks in your back pocket.

Tear yourself away from the boots, wipe the drool off your face and head for the Irma Hotel, which was built by Cody’s own Buffalo Bill and named after his daughter. Located in the center of town, the Irma is Cody’s beating heart. Here, you can buy your kids a sarsaparilla, indulge in some juicy prime rib and take in the famous cherry wood bar that was given to Buffalo Bill by Queen Victoria. After dinner you’ll want to catch the 6 o’clock gunfight that’s staged outside the hotel every night during the summer. It’s loud and silly, but my kids loved it and I got to drink my beer in the sun on the streets of Cody and pretend I was a character in a Larry McMurtry novel.

End the day at the Cody Night Rodeo, where you’ll find yourself singing along to Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” without even meaning to and where cowboys and cowgirls of all ages work to make what may be the hardest living imaginable. Also prepare yourself and your children for the possibility of some kind of injury, be it equine, bovine or human. We saw a bull break his leg and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place when he was taken off the field.

Day Two

Rise and shine in time to grab some grub before heading out to see wild mustangs frolic in the Bighorn Basin. Who knew that this is an actual tour that you can take with your family? Apparently Anna did. So she booked it for us and it was one of the highlights of our trip.

In just a few hours’ time we learned about the geography of the area, the history of the horses, the ranchers’ animosity toward the horses and how the Bureau of Land Management is forced to keep their numbers down. Plus, we got to see some unforgettable horses, including Blaze the stallion and his mares. We watched as three bachelor horses hung near the herd, waiting for an opportunity to challenge Blaze. Crazy. Forget Meerkat Manor , Animal Planet needs to do Mustang Melodrama .

Have lunch in town at Adrianos Italian Restaurant. Cody is awesome, but it’s no great culinary shakes, so stick with the tried-and-true like pizza or a meatball sub.

Go back to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center to see the things you missed on day one.

Grab a “chuckwagon” dinner and a show at the Cody Cattle Company, where the baked beans and the Triple C Cowboys will really put some pep in your step.

Then, head back to your hotel, collapse into bed and thank your lucky stars that Anna Moore planned this delightful and educational excursion for you and your family. I’ll let you know as soon as I find out what she’s planning for next summer.



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