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Eric and Steven at the Irma Hotel in Cody, WY

Steve Lindfors has purposely pre-planned this side trip–back out of Yellowstone–so his family can take in a rodeo, something that no one in the family has ever experienced. I can see by now that Steve really likes to “do it up right.”  He truly envisioned a “vacation of a lifetime” from the beginning.

Get this: he checks out of the Roosevelt Lodge in the Park’s Lamar Valley, motors east and south out of Yellowstone on scenic Chief Joseph Highway toward Cody, WY.  On the way they’re caught in a buffalo jam on the road.  They have room reservations at the “gem of Cody” Irma Hotel, opened by Buffalo Bill Cody in 1902, named after his daughter. It seems Cody kept a room at the hotel for years even though he owned and worked an expansive cattle ranch nearby called the TE Ranch. A notable list of Western “icons” have stayed at the hotel over the years: Frederick Remington, Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane–undoubtedly befriended by Cody while running his famous Wild West. (1883).

Janet finally sees a "Grizzly"

Janet finally sees a "Grizzly"

During daylight hours, the Lindfors visited the Buffalo Bill Historic Center and were captivated for most of the day with its American West memorabilia & natural history exhibits, especially the American Cowboy history and artifact collections.

The Buffalo Bill Cody Museum is one of five major exhibits in the Center. It is considered the flagship attraction because of the city’s and the region’s inseparable ties to William F. Cody (1846-1917), who actually was a legend in his own time. Wisely, the town early-on realized Cody’s fame would outlive him and started to capitalize on his reputation and legacy.  Tourists loved it!

Buffalo Bill Historical Center

Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY

Known as a frontiersman, guide, scout, and showman–and was one of the founding fathers of Cody, WY, Buffalo Bill is a respected early communicator who spoke broadly to many audiences, including people and dignitaries of foreign nations, about the “promise of the American West.” It wasn’t just theory, either. He personally capitalized on this promise by developing the TE Ranch and another large property in North Platte, Nebraska. In 1948 the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad gave the Isaac Cody home to the Buffalo Bill Historical Association in Cody. They had, years earlier, moved it to Cody from LeClaire, Iowa knowing it would be a popular tourist attraction for those staying at the railroad-owned Burlington Hotel. Oddly, it is now considered one of the oldest buildings in all of Wyoming. “Willy” only lived in this house until he was seven, however his memoirs include fond recollections of this boyhood and the time when he lived “across the road from the Mississippi River.”

Teenaged Steven was more captivated by one of the Center’s other exhibits, however. “The most comprehensive collection of American firearms in the world is on display there,” exclaimed Steven, recounting the visit. “It traces the evolution of firearms–and in a wonderful interpretive way. What a cool museum!”  The Winchester Collection seems to feature more than just Winchesters, too. All sorts of gun manufacturers are represented “in impressive fashion” as part of the attraction. Needless to say, “they had Steve and Steven at ‘Winchester.’ ” Two out of the four Lindfors spent a lot of time in this exhibit I am told.

Gun-fight Reenactment in front of Irma Restaurant and Grill

Gun-fight reenactment in front of Irma Restaurant and Grill

Another “do it up right” moment happened Saturday night. The Lindfors are enjoying the hotel’s prime rib buffet–right on the front porch of the Irma Hotel.  As they’re eating, a gun-fight reenactment busts out on the street directly in front of their table. They’re incredulous–loving every minute. Then, as darkness approaches, our buckaroos gallop over to attend one of America’s longest running and most famous rodeos. You guessed it. The Buffalo Bill Cody Stampede Rodeo. Another first for everyone in the Lindfors family!

Steven and Eric Lindfors at the Cody Stampede Rodeo

Steven and Eric Lindfors at the Cody Stampede Rodeo

“There were bucking broncos, and calf roping, and clowns and barrel racing, and bulls. Just what you’d expect. It was so incredible to finally be in a real rodeo arena. Fun to take it all in. Fabulous people watching. We all loved it.” I spoke to Steven fairly late, after they arrived “back at the bunkhouse.”  Our cowboys and cowgirl were all “tuckered out” it seems, and ready for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow they will head back to Yellowstone and begin a multi-day sightseeing junket there. “Packing in as much as we possibly can,” yawns Steve as he bids me goodnight.


View more photos from the Lindfors’ family trip here.

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Beartooth Pass

Beartooth Pass --above timberline

Beartooth Pass, as far as I’m concerned, is the most scenic highway in the United States,” Steve Lindfors says emphatically. The drive from Billings to Yellowstone was “beyond wonderful” pronounced Steve.  “The views are spectacular! The glacial valley, the mountains–some of them over 11,000 feet!  There’s lots of switchbacks and beautiful trees. We all just loved it!”  (Beartooth Pass is the highest elevation highway in WY, MT and the northern Rockies and takes our explorers 10,000 ft.+ high, above timberline.)

It seems their last night in Hill City was a fun one. They had dinner reservations at the famous Alpine Inn, known far and wide for its prime rib. They go in, they’re seated and come to find out that prime rib, wedge of head lettuce “with the best homemade ranch dressing I may have ever eaten,” baked potato, and Texas toast were the ONLY items on the menu, IF there had been a menu. The only choice is 6 oz. vs. 9 oz.. And, surprise again, they only accept cash.  “Incredulous,” says Steven. I can see him shaking his head is amusement as he relayed the story. “But…delicious!! Really delicious.”

It’s Friday, August 20, and the Lindfors are headed for their first night in Yellowstone–toward the NE Entrance, of course. (I’m sure this was part of the trip plan from the get go. If you recall, the Ranger’s home located at the NE Entrance of the Park was the first house Steven Lindfors lived in. And, I find out later, his brother also “landed” in a Park Service cabin–only at the SW corner of the Park. Their father worked for the Park Service and was transferred around Yellowstone during the 50′s).

“It was right where my mom told me it would be,” exclaimed Steve. “You go in the Entrance, look to the right, up the hill, and the house should be sitting there. And, sure enough it was! I got out and took pictures and we walked around a bit. It was really cool. The kids visited with the Park Rangers at the Entrance and got a check-off list of mammals and birds to watch during their stay.”

“So let me tell you where we stand,” Steven continues. “Already we’re only missing two animals: a moose and a grizzly bear. We’ve checked off wolf, black bear, bison, bald eagle and elk. Jan and Steven, our family’s binocular nuts, even spotted a family of river otters today. At first they thought it was beaver–but it turned out to be playful otters. They totally entertained us–popping in and out of the water, wrestling around with each other.  It was just too cute!”

Chuck Wagon at Yellow Stone National Park

Chuck Wagon dinner in Yellowstone National Park

As you’re apt to do in Yellowstone, you drive around and look for scenic vistas and interesting stopping points.  Steve reports they did that for a good part of the afternoon. “You know, we stopped at the geothermal pools and bubbling mudpots. We stopped with all the other gawkers when there was an animal to view,” he laughed. “Then in the evening we loaded into an authentic Conestoga Wagon and a guide took us and some other folks out to an open field and we had a real chuck wagon dinner. It was fun and very ‘different.’ The kids really liked it, though. It was magnificent out there. What a beautiful day too.”

Tonight our chat is abbreviated. The Lindfors are tired and sunburned. They learned the hard way how harsh the sun is at high elevations.  They’ll wear hats tomorrow when they engage their hub-and-spoke day trip down to Cody, WY to take in a rodeo and some Cowboy & Western history as only WY can deliver it.


View more pho
tos from the Lindfors’ family trip here.

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