3281 miles later…
3281 miles later…
Last Saturday we left Cody by 7:30 AM, with a quick stop to peek inside the doors of Buffalo Bill’s famous Irma Hotel.
And then we headed north again, to pick up I-80 and head west.
We stopped in Bozeman for lunch and some banjo-shopping and Music Villa. They had a 1920’s Vega tenor banjo that made Banjo Man’s heart beat a little faster but, alas, it needed a bit of work and cost more than was in the Banjo Man Budget.
But there was this, one of my favorite on-the-road restaurants:
Three heavenly words: lemon blueberry pancakes.
And then it was my turn to drive, so in a post lemon blueberry glow, I got behind the wheel and headed West.
We would be staying in Missoula, right next to our favorite pizza place.
At dinnertime we were about three hours and 170 miles away from our summer home.
Then it was time to hit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. We were especially looking forward to the Whitney Gallery’s collection of Western Art. Once inside we decided to split up and meet in four hours.
Yes, four hours. It would close in six hours and Banjo Man thought he would need all six hours to see everything.
I took lots of pictures on my Kindle but have yet to send them to this computer, so I’ll post the highlights in another blog post.
My favorite area was the Museum of the Plains Indians. After spending over an hour there, I bumped into Banjo Man. He had been in the new Firearms museum (the largest collection of firearms in the world) and told me he’d seen Zane Grey’s gun. I was so excited and needed to take a picture of it. He said I’d never find it and offered to lead me to it.
I declined, assuming I could find one measly rifle or ask one of the docents. This turned out to be a stupid decision, because after an hour and a half–and two complete walks through the Firearms exhibits (a total maze) I still hadn’t found the Winchester 1895.
But I had lots of steps on my Fitbit.
I’d given up–temporarily–and was in the Buffalo Bill museum when I spotted Banjo Man again. We strolled through that together and saw this:
It had once lived in Buffalo Bill’s wife’s home in North Platte, Nebraska. Banjo Man’s sister and family had owned that home for many years. Do you see us in the mirror? Hey, Hall Mirror, we know where you’ve been!!
I felt a cold chill run down my back.
Back to the rifle, which Banjo Man led me to. By this time we were both staggering with exhaustion.
And then we were off to our hotel, which turned out to be rather pricey. I think I booked the wrong Best Western online last month. Still, we had nothing to complain about. Banjo Man unloaded his nine bags from the car and then hustled off to a local grocery store to buy more food for his endless, insatiable appetite. We shared a steak dinner in the attached restaurant and I had a green margarita made from tequila, melon liqueur and cucumbers.
I feel it is my duty to try different margaritas so I can perfect them for my friends at the lake.
And then…good night.
We got a late start on day 7, due to both of us having business to take care of. I’d been sent a rather strange line edit of my novella (due out in November, finished in April) and needed to throw a mild hissy fit. In thirty years of writing, I’d never thrown a hissy fit (except in the privacy of my office!!!) so I guess this was a case of “better late than never”.
I was still fuming and fussing when we finally got on the road and headed north. Banjo Man wisely listened and said supportive things.
We’d been on the road for an hour when Banjo Man decided he was hungry. We’d just crossed into Wyoming, so he pulled over at a truck stop with a Wendy’s in it and proceeded to eat a hamburger and a bowl of chili.
And then we were on the road again, heading north towards I-80.
Our destination was Riverton, Colorado. Banjo Man wanted to go through Mountain Man country and see the Popo Agie River.
According to the Sinks River info, “Popo Agie is a Crow Indian word that most people believe means “gurgling river.” When the first white trappers arrived in the area the Crow people were here, and that is what they called the river.
It is pronouced: “Puh – Po Shuh” (two words).
The Shoshone Indians also were in the Popo Agie River Valley and they called the river Wuhnzee Ohgway which translates to: Wuhn-zee (pronghorn buck) Oh-gway (flowing river).
The Shoshone called the Lander Valley Wuhnzee Gahdtuhd which translates as:Wuhn-zee (pronghorn buck) Gah-dtuh-d (sitting).
Today the Shoshone and Crow people still come to the canyon to collect sage and pick berries.”
“The canyon gets its name from the fantastic geologic formation “The Sinks,” where the river disappears into a limestone cavern, reappearing at the Rise hours later. Dye tests have only answered some of the questions about the underground hydrology of the canyon. The geology is equally complex and Sinks Canyon is a great place to view millions of years of geologic history.”
It’s a good thing Story Man wasn’t with us. It might have been too much for him!
Back to the Sinks:
After all that excitement, it was time to get back on the road and drive through the gorgeous little western town of Lander, Wyoming. And then on to Riverton, where we stayed at a brand new Hampton Inn filled with oil workers. I spent some time alone in the pool, trying to exercise my shoulder, while Banjo Man worked.
FYI: the hotel pools are usually empty after 8 PM. I’ve thankfully been able to walk laps and do arm stretches without an audience!
And then to bed, because Day 8 will be in Cody, Wyoming!
Every year I arrive at the lake and plant my garden. My garden consists of two large pots by the front door, into which go tomato plants (I usually buy the last two tomato plants at Walmart) and basil (which every single store is out of).
This year I bought basil plants in Rhode Island. I left them outside and bugs got to them and ate the leaves, but I was not discouraged. Into the car they went, despite Banjo Man’s grumbling. He swore they wouldn’t make it to the lake, would die after 3000 miles in the car, but they have survived quite nicely.
I think they like life on the road. But like me, they’ll be happy to stay in one place for the summer. My basil and I are ready to get off the road and settle down!
Banjo Man doesn’t believe in traveling light. He needs his special pillow. His special blanket. His sleep apnea machine. Laptop. Bag of vitamins and supplements and medications. Food containers. Snacks. Cooler. Clothes. Good grooming supplies.
That’s why he needs a rolling cart.
I, on the other hand, travel with this:
Banjo Man eats his way across the country. He will have oatmeal, fruit, juice and coffee at the hotel breakfast. Then he will eat two oranges and an avocado in the room before showering and packing up. When he gets in the car he starts in on the sunflower seeds, almonds, apples, water and Cheez-its.
I drink 2 cups of coffee and eat half a protein bar.
He loves his tuna salads at Subway.
And chocolate Frosty’s at Wendy’s. We left Colorado one morning and before we were an hour down the road he wanted lunch. At 10:30 AM. Since I have the metabolism of a potato, I rarely snack and only eat one meal a day (not counting the half of a protein bar for breakfast). Banjo Man is like a giant catfish, opening his mouth and scarfing down anything he sees.
He stays cheerful while lugging all his stuff into and out of hotel rooms. I wonder sometimes how we stay married.
And off we went, all gassed up and heading to Colorado to meet the new grandniece.
Our grandnephew was more impressed with us than the sweet baby was.
We had so much fun that I wished I could turn the clock back 40 years and do the whole “growing family” part of my life over again.
We spent the night here, near the highway.
I have mixed feelings about Abilene. First of all, it’s not easy to get to because there is a lot of Kansas. Not that Kansas isn’t a perfectly nice state, but it is a challenge to drive that many miles of empty land and remain sane.
And there’s the food. Banjo Man loves to go out to eat at night, but I don’t. And Monday night in Abilene all I wanted to do was put on my nightgown, eat some yogurt and watch “The Bachelorette”. But no, life wasn’t going to be that simple. The sweet young thing at the hotel recommended “Ike’s Place” for an informal meal.
It looked awful from the outside. And from the inside, too, but we’ve seen enough episodes of “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” to keep an open mind. Anyway, my meal was cold and such a mess (how do you ruin a bun-less beef patty with mushrooms on top?) they didn’t charge us for it. And I had a touch of food poisoning the next morning.
Tuesday morning–after I’d recovered enough to be a tourist again–we went to the Eisenhower home and museum.
I gained a lot of respect and admiration for the man. Ike, about whom it was said, “Even his enemies liked him” had an incredible talent for leadership. We toured his childhood home, where his mother lived and which had been preserved exactly the way she left it.
I love touring old houses and seeing how people lived.
Yes, the first thing I notice are the quilts. Always.
The museum was enormous, with at least half of it dedicated to World War II. Banjo Man was in heaven.
And then we went to lunch at a place called The Farmhouse, outside of town. It was supposed to be good, and yet…there was no one there. It looked like a haunted house, inside and out. The food was okay, but I was understandably suspicious of anything that came out of that ancient kitchen, especially since no one else was eating there. I couldn’t wait to leave and go back into town. I had pictures to take for Story Man’s western research!
A man at the History Center had given me a diagram that showed where the old places used to be and what they are now.
For instance, this is where the Bull’s Head Saloon was:
Banjo Man wanted to cheer me up, so he offered a quick visit to an antique shop before we headed out of town. We had to get as far as Colby, Kansas in order to make the next day–a visit to relatives in Colorado–work.
I didn’t buy anything but I took pictures of quilts, which is almost as much fun as buying them.
And of course no one needs one of these writing tablets any more.I still don’t understand why children aren’t taught “cursive” any longer. How are they supposed to sign their names when picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy? When buying a house or a car?
But I digress….
Banjo Man made one more stop before we drove onto the interstate. He is shopping for a hat, but the ones he saw at the Last Stop In Abilene were too “western” and I think he wanted one with a more universal, tropical style.
He is such a diva. Really, he is. Unlike Ike.
I think this is Ohio.
Banjo Man and I made a deal to get on the road **early** Monday morning. We had a big day ahead of us. The goal? To get from Terre Haute, Indiana to as close to Abilene, Kansas as possible.
At 7 AM Abilene, Kansas was 560 miles west.
And we made it…12 hours later. We saw more of Indiana. And Missouri. And Kansas. And now we are in our hotel in Abilene, after having eaten an awful dinner at a local restaurant named “Ike’s Place”. I’ll be lucky if I don’t have food poisoning. Seriously.
I don’t like to eat dinner out when we’re on the road. I’ll never do it again, no matter how much Banjo Man begs.
Tomorrow we will tour the Eisenhower museum and library. We’ll see “old Abilene” and take pictures for Story Man. Several years ago he wrote a screenplay about a local Austin, Texas legend–Ben Thompson–who once lived in Abilene and owned a saloon called the Bull’s Head.
It ended badly. There was a carriage accident that injured Ben Thompson’s family. A gunfight. Wild Bill Hickok shot Ben’s partner dead, right there on the street. Wild times in Abilene!
So I have promised to hunt down the area where the Bull’s Head once existed and take a picture, even if it is a vacant lot or a McDonald’s. And I have promised to find copies of old maps, because no one–absolutely no one–loves maps as much as Story Man.
As much as I love vintage tablecloths, that’s how much Story Man loves maps.
But I digress. Tomorrow we will swim, pack and head to the museums. We will have lunch at a historic place we read about in a brochure (and I hope it will be better than Ike’s Place) and then we will head to Colorado. I don’t know how far we’ll get–that depends on how much time we spend in Abilene–but we are heading to Fort Collins to meet a brand new grandniece.
As much as I would love to add pictures of today’s scenery, I can’t. The internet in most of our otherwise lovely hotel rooms has been pretty slow. And after a long day on the road I just don’t have the energy to spend an hour or more uploading pictures, so….I’m sorry.
I’ll try again…