Mike and I have only been to Cody once before, and we LOVED it!!! Our stay was so short, we didn’t even take in the rodeo or the western museum that folks rave about.
We booked an RV spot back at The Yellowstone Valley Inn in Wapiti which is just outside downtown Cody and in a gorgous setting along the Shoshone River. The managers we loved on our first visit were no longer on property and had warned us that the new management was not as accommodating. They were right. We were greeted with them asking if that big bus out front was ours…. Ummm. – Yep. Then they abruptly said we would not fit in the space we booked. Now I booked this site online in February – and followed up with a phone call to the office after multiple attempts. When I explained this to the new owner, she hastily told me that was her winter help. Ummmm…. Ok – but how is that my fault? They did however try to find us a new parking spot with the 50 amp power we needed. Finally, the man ( whom I believe also manages the property ) suggested we just go walk it off ourselves and see if we would fit. You guys know Skinner by now - he walked off the lot and laughed. We would fit with no issue. We were reminded to NOT touch the fence while backing in… Ummm…. pretty sure we don’t want our nice Featherlite bus rubbing on a barb wire and wood fence – but thanks for the reminder. Side note: by the time Skinner parked our 45 foot Prevost into space number 6 in the Hitching post section of the park – we had ample room to park our large SUV beside and about 2 feet of space between the fence and our tow hitch. In fact, one of the very short campers parked next door stuck out more than our “big rig.” I expected the manager or owner to walk out and say – “WOW! Good job” … but we never saw them again - for 4 days. I wonder how many RVers they have turned away assuming a 45-footer would not fit in this section?
Another minor disappointment was that the fun little bar and restaurant were not in full operation. They told guests checking in that they could not find people to work, so buffets would be offered and a cold continental breakfast daily. It just lost a little of the cheeky fun we experienced our first visit.
All my bitching aside – I still love the location of the park because it sits along the Shoshone River and they did add new wood chairs / benches that were comfy with side tables so you could enjoy coffee or wine watching the river rush by. It also just happens to be within five minutes of our friends' Chris and Debbie’s new property where they have built a glorious modern mountain home and shop/saloon. We could not wait to see the progress of their construction since our last visit over four years prior.
Dinner the first eve was scheduled at the new Cutthroat Restaurant and Cabins property. Remember me saying how much fun the old RV park managers Randy and Courtney were???
This is their new place they now own and operate. It sits just a couple miles down the road from YVI, also along the Shoshone River.
I believe I ate the BEST walleye flash fried fish and jalapeno poppers in my life! The delicious meal was complimented by local talent playing music beside the fireplace. Lee Calvin played acoustic and sang his heart out for the crowd all evening. What a great talent with a great and crowd engaging personality. Calvin & The Coal Cars on Spotify if you want to look him up!!!
For our first full day in Cody, we elected a relaxation day. It was needed.
I still had some of that spaghetti in the freezer from my Chimney Rock cooking afternoon, so I offered to make everyone dinner at Chris and Debbie’s new home.
Before we headed to take the official home tour, Debbie picked me up for a quick little shopping adventure downtown Cody. There was a trunk show at Mercury Leather Works, which is the coolest hat store I’ve visited in quite some time. They can add vintage ribbons, feathers, beads, whatever you want to your cowboy hats – as well as sell you one of the gorgeous handcrafted Kemo Sabe options complete with your initials branded inside the brim. I had Skinner bring two of my favorite Charlie One Horse hats to spruce up with some fun new colors and ribbons.
We also discovered a great little bead store, Rockstar Cowgirl, where you could purchase already locally crafted jewelry or string your own design. Fun!!!
We had to stop shopping and get to the Paulsen ranch... Debbie and I also made plans to can our own bourbon cherries. We bought so many fresh Flathead Lake cherries in Montana!
After sipping wine and pitting a few hundred cherries, it was time for the shop and home tour, followed by dinner and a movie. It was also a great way to let the dogs run free for a few hours after over a month on the road. Clyde discovered how to chase prairie dogs from his new buddy Max, which was pretty fun to watch. Mike was most excited to check out how his old billiards table looked in Chris’s western style saloon. We sold the antique table to the Paulsen’s when we realized we didn’t have the room in our new shop. It was the perfect couple to sell such a piece of art and history. The table is over 100 years old, and was used in the final scenes of the The Color of Money movie. I had to pull Mike off the table around midnight, we had an early wake up call the next morning. He would have played all night with his buddies!
It was, in simple terms, THE BEST SUNDAY ever.
We were early to rise on Monday for a horseback riding adventure.
Rand Creek Ranch is also just a couple miles down the road from YVI. We experienced a fantastic ride with them up Gem Mountain the first time we visited Cody, and I asked Chris and Debbie to see if they would book us for another trail ride. They selected a different trail this time, and it was even better than our first experience. Joel from Rand Creek Ranch selected a six mile ride along Gem Creek up Gem Mountains. You go through some pretty rocky areas climbing all the way up to the lush grassy slopes at the top. A little over twelve miles round trip, so the ranch also packed lunches for us to enjoy once we reached our resting spot.
The horses are very well trained and in shape for the trek up the craggy mountains. We were pleasantly surprised by a rushing creek and waterfall, wildflowers in full bloom, and views that just amazed even Chris and Debbie who live there! We lucked out with cooler weather and no rain as forecasted earlier that morning.
For the evening… The other item on our visit Cody bucket list – the rodeo!
We were lucky to get an early reservation downtown at Proud Cut Saloon. Another restaurant in the heart of Cody with new owners, but they were on their game and got us seated and served in record time. Steaks for all tonight, and gigantic perfectly baked potatos. YUM!
We wanted to make sure we arrived to the rodeo a few minutes before 8pm because part of the experience is the prayer and national anthem. We were not disappointed. It was very Americana and patriotic that made me a little emotional and proud to be an American – I needed that reminder. I even got a quick pic atop Mongo the bull!!! It was extremely windy this particular evening… but we didn’t mind, and it made the roping that more extreme for the cowboys and cowgirls entertaining the cheering crowd.
Our final day in Cody was for the western museum. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is first class and one of the best laid out museums I’ve ever toured.
Mike and Chris took a VIP tour of the Firearms wing, while Debbie and I gawked at western art and displays in each wing. I especially enjoyed the section dedicated to Buffalo Bill and his Wild West show that made him an international superstar back in the day. You really need more than one morning to properly take in every section, so I guess I will just have to return one day! Darn!
The gift shop as also slap full of nice items representing Cody and Wyoming. I even found a silk scarf that displayed one of my favorite pieces of art in the museum. They also have a very nice coffee bar and cafeteria if you want to take a break in between viewing. A morning well-worth the money spent to explore and support such a fine establishment.
Since we decided to spend our evening back at the Paulsen ranch for pizza, wine and a movie – we took time for a long lunch downtown. Do y’all do this too??? You know – while you are eating breakfast or lunch, you start planning your dinner or the next day’s meals? We used to make fun of my mom for doing this, and now the joke is on me because as we age… We just seem to plan ahead… meals that is. LOL!
We all were sad that Tom and Laura had to miss our Cody adventures, so in fashion to honor our travel buddies we downloaded a good Tom Berenger movie. The selection for the evening was Betrayed, staring Tom and the talented Debra Winger. It’s a thriller and very good.
I kinda wished we had a couple more days in Cody. We never even took in Yellowstone, and I could have enjoyed another afternoon just lounging at the Paulsen ranch… but it was time to travel to our next destination. 8 days in Spearfish. Time to get my biker babe on!