A wonderful piece of serendipity during this trip was our tour through Wind River Canyon. To us, this was really just a road on the Wyoming map with a one-night stop to get us from Casper to Cody. But it turned out to be so much more. The Wind River has cut a deep canyon through the mountains that is dramatic.
We stayed the night somewhere near midway through the canyon next to the Wind River with a railroad on the other side.
Leaving our campsite, there were three tunnels we had to pass through. They did not look very big. While we knew the RV could fit, a little assurance goes a long way. So we watched a couple of semis go through to ease our minds.
Wyoming is the least populated state in the country with less than 600,000 folks. Since it is also the 10th largest state in area, it means you can drive a long time without seeing much in the way of people.
Here we are in Cody, the town founded by, you guessed it, Buffalo Bill Cody. It lies at the base of the Absaroka mountain range with the Shoshone River flowing through it in a pretty deep canyon. It is this canyon formed by the Shoshone River that we will drive through on our route to Yellowstone.
Cody plays on its cowboy theme and its famous founder. There’s a Buffalo Bill this, a Buffalo Bill that, and a Buffalo Bill something else. Outside the Irma Hotel, built, of course, by Buffalo Bill and named for his daughter, there is a nightly “shootout” on the street. Although I tried the shootout and left pretty quickly (Linda was smart enough to stay in the car), we did enjoy a couple of meals in the Irma's restaurant.
I love to watch rodeo, and Cody is a rodeo town - The Rodeo Capital of the World according to the claims. Not only do they have their big Cody Stampede at the beginning of July, but they also have a nightly rodeo throughout the summer. You just know we were there.
My rodeo pictures were a bit limited by the available light, but some of them turned out okay. Here's a small gallery of some the action.
Not only does Cody have cowboys and rodeos, it also has motorcycles. It is where we first experienced a large number of motorcycle tourists. Cycles were everywhere, usually traveling in groups of six to ten. We continued to see huge numbers of cycles in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. In fact, I may not see as many cycles in a year in Houston as I have seen in the past two weeks in northwest Wyoming.
Every once in a while you visit a place that, while it is not happy or fun, it is a good thing to do. That is Heart Mountain.
Imagine living in Southern California and being told you are going to be moved and to bring only what you can carry. Now imagine you end up in a plywood barracks in the mountains of Wyoming. This happened to thousands of Americans in the 1940s.
Yes, that is a picture of a (reconstructed) guard tower. While these people were told by the government they were in a “Relocation Center,” it was a concentration camp, pure and simple.
There were ten of these concentration camps located in the interior of the country from the "West Coast Exclusion Zone" that held about 115,000 Japanese-Americans. Before it closed Heart Mountain peaked at a population of almost 11,000, making it Wyoming's third-largest city at the time.
I taught in a very cosmopolitan school district and my students were of all cultures and races. Many times I was the minority in the classroom. But I didn’t care what ethnicities these kids were or how many letters were in their last names, I enjoyed every one of them, and I consider all of them not only my students but my friends.
We would all do well to remember these lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein from the musical South Pacific:
to hate and fear…
You’ve got to be carefully taught.”