I’m staying in a hotel room tonight that will be very hard to top on this trip. Movies and history meld!
Filling our orange juice at the same time at the breakfast statio , I asked an Ed Flanders mustached gentleman named Duane, out of South Dakota, if he had any recommendations for the area. He very enthusiastically recommended Going To The Sun Road, a spectacular route he said would bring me through Montana, almost to Canada. He also said Buffalo, an hour away, was a nice little town.
Im going to Buffalo.
Duane used to supply greenhouses for that whole area and now works for the Department of Agriculture, dealing with their pesticide and fertilizer needs. He’s a big proponent of avoiding I90 . He couldn’t have been nicer.
There was a broad breakfast spread with an omelette station. I had biscuits with gravy and scrambled eggs with ham through then, overlooking the plains. When in Wyoming. Nice buzz in the room, a lot of people had come from church.
There was an unexpected conversation on wine tasting at the adjoining table, Alter wine was mentioned.
Back to the North Dakota thing. A good friend suggested the only worth while thing about visiting there would be the bragging rights. I’d be one of about 25 people from NYC ever to do so. Not reason enough.
Heading to Buffalo, WY.
An aside : Usually I read four to six books a month. Discounting audio books, that average is way down on this trip. Though by strange coincidence my current novel, The Midnight Line, is set back and forth between Rapid City and Wyoming.
Jim and Patty Brown noticed my plates at the gas station and commented I was far from home and we struck up a conversation. They own a ranch locally with some quarter horses they ride for fun. Jim, an extremely youthful 60, a Deputy Building Official for the city, recently got his DNA tested – 57% Irish!
He is also very involved in an international non profit ,concerned with international building codes (if I understood correctly) and offered to hook me up with his group on my travels.
Patty and Jim were hugely helpful telling me those places to see and critically, to avoid.Kings Saddlery is definitely on my list now, as is Bozeman.
As Jim put in a plug of Tobacco, got in his pickup and we went our ways, it struck me, my Escalade is looking smaller the further I get West.
75 miles later I’m in Buffalo, WY.
There’s not a lot open on Sundays in Buffalo but I got lucky with the Absoraka County Store – a strange combination of coffee shop and clothing store.
Elora, named for the character Rlora Danan in Willow, was nice enough to make me an excellent French Press in the Absoraka Store in Buffalo. She recommend I drive up to Mulgers Gulch for some great views.
Elora is a senior in high school, with two younger siblings and has moved towns a bit over her years. Her dad is in natural gas and relocates quite frequently, though the family has been in Buffalo for three years and love the town. Their previous state was Pennsylvania. Aloura was in Baltimore last year and was not sure she’d take to big city life.
Sunday was slow, Elora was running the coffee and clothing sections alone. There’d have been 7 people working the same space in NY.
Elora was another real pleasure to meet and made a damn fine coffee.
I crossed the road to check out my first gun store; had a bit of a gander ; took some selfies and bought an eight pack of sweat socks.
Jim Brown had recommended I visit The Occidental Hotel, so I dropped in.
Rick and DeeDee were having a beer at the intriguing taxidermy filled Occidental Hotel Bar. They work a local guest ranch , The TA Ranch, 8,000 acres with 30 horses. A lot of the guests are French. The French are fascinated with all things Western. They shared some beautiful photos of their own two quarter horses. Both highly recommended I go to Cody, another historic western town, further west.
The bar was founded in 1880, originally in a tent, the current hotel and hunting trophy filled bar, was built in 1908. Wild bathroom too.
Haley , the energetic and fun barmaid , is marrying an Irishman next year. She had lived in town since she was two. Her fiancée , Randall , goes by Floyd because he loves Pink Floyd and thinks he looks like Pink from Dazed and Confused. Haley showed me Floyd’s photo. He kinda does .
I’m childishly pleased with the Buffalo heads in Buffalo selfies.
Met Bill Lee, and his Harley, out of Casper WY. Bill had worked at the WTC until 1999, as an engineer and lived in Brooklyn. There have been lots is States and lots of jobs since. He is retired a couple of years. Bill Lee loved his jobs.
He serenaded Haley, behind the bar, with his rendition of A Song For You (Leon Russel) followed quickly by Thats Life. He’d sung earlier at Church. Bill Lee loves to sing.
He has five kids, 7 Grand kids and another coming – and he’s been married 3 times. Bill Lee loves the ladies.
An avid hunter, he nailed an antelope yesterday and is hoping for an elk tomorrow. It’s bow season. Bill Lee loves to hunt.
Bill told me i looked honest and that I could take his house in Casper for the night if I wanted, an hour and a half away . He told me he owns 8 houses. Bill Lee loves houses.
Bill had me come out and take photos of his Harley , and me with his Harley and the two of us with his Harley. He had recently done a 5 week road trip. Bill Lee loves his Harley .
This blow-in was made to feel so welcome in The Occidental.
I was enjoying the place so much I booked a room. The Occidental Hotel has a lot of history, Herbert Hoover; Calamity Jane; Ernest Hemingway and Teddy Roosevelt , to name a few , all stayed here .
Each room looks unique, some with western swinging doors, each with its own story, and all named after a famous resident. The Madames room is available in what was the Brothel section of the hotel. $3 back in the day got you a really good time. Today it got me an OJ not a ….
But the room I absolutely had to have was The Hole in The Wall Room . The one that Butch Cassidy stayed in. It’s a beautiful little corner room over looking the Main Street and a happy little stream. I will amuse my self all night looking out the window and muttering “Who are those guys?”
The saloon has bullet holes in the ceiling, origins unknown.
I left Buffalo and Bill Lee with his one glass of red, around 4, and drove around a couple of hours. Nothing open Sundays in Sheridan so i turned around and went back to Buffalo.
When I returned to the bar, to eat and listen to the live C&W, three hours later, Bill Lee was still there. He’d taken a room for the night. Bill Lee loves his red wine.
The bison burger was really good as was the live music. Taylor Corum, the solo act, had played the Old Oprey. Mister Euro Trash here actually knew some of the C&W standards and he did cover a few Pet Shop Boy classics.
Bill Lee came over and chatted for a bit. Bill Lee is a really good guy.
My first live music of the trip.
The bar shut down 8.30.
The Tally :
Hotel: $63 !
Dinner : $16