Six miles west of Cody the highway skirts the huge Buffalo Bill Reservoir and, after travelling through the mountains via some fairly long tunnels at the spillway end, you arrive in the town.
Cody is a happening place with a lively main street and a "good feel".
Named after Buffalo Bill Cody, who helped create the original town, they rely pretty heavily on his legend and the "wild west" in general.
The Buffalo Bill Historical Centre is a popular large museum located near the town center and contains large collections of western memorabilia. During the summer, a re-enactment of a wild-west shoot-out takes place next to the Irma Hotel which is an historical site still open for business. This landmark hotel was actually built by William Cody and named after his daughter Irma Cody.
We were persuaded to go to the shoot-out. It was, in a word "hokey", but so bad it was good.
Cody calls itself the "Rodeo Capital of the World" and there is an amateur rodeo every night for the 3 months of summer. It also hosts the Cody Stampede Rodeo over the Independence day holiday which is one of the biggest rodeos in the USA. And as a bit of added trivia the town is also the birthplace of Jackson Pollock.
We opted for a bit of luxury for our one night stay at Chamberlin Inn and it was worth every dollar.
They recommended the Wyoming Rib and Chop House which turned out to be the gastronomic find of the trip. A huge wine list and a great menu, basically meat, but with some interesting starters. I tried fried green tomatoes for the first time. Wonderful! Judging by the crowd waiting for tables (luckily we booked) it has a formidable reputation.
Next morning we headed further east and over the Bighorn Mountains via Granite Pass but not before visiting a large quilt shop in the one main street of Greybull (pop: 1800). The co driver has a preference for these out of the way quilt businesses. How they survive in these very small towns always amazes me. This one does by means of a world wide on line trade with much merchandise being sent to Australia.
The 2715m pass is located on the Bighorn Scenic Byway and at its base Shell Creek has formed a canyon of shimmering pink granite. The rocks here are between 2.5 and 2.9 billion years old and are amongst the oldest in the world. The climb up was pretty spectacular and the view over the prairies on the other side just as so.
We were tailgated a long way down the other side by an elderly impatient old fart until we managed to let him get by. As karma would have it, 20 miles further on we passed him by the side of the road being booked by the Highway Patrol so it was waves and high fives all round.
Back on the flat rolling prairie and the I90 we gunned it towards Rapid City in the Black Hills.
But first a small detour to the Devils Tower near Sundance. We were in two minds whether to do this due to the long distance already travelled. But it was worth it.
The Tower is a volcanic neck which stands alone 386m high in the northern region of the Black Hills. It was the USA's first national monument and has great cultural significance to many American native tribes including Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Lakota and Shoshone.
After another shopping spree at Rapid City's newly opened Cabelas where there were more than a few bargains to be had, dinner at the Outback Restaurant and an overnight at the local Holiday Inn Express we set on a our last 6 hour leg back to Sioux Falls.
Then it was another few days in town until it was time to say my goodbyes and head home via Denver and Los Angeles with United. I upgraded to Economy Plus this time and the little bit extra leg room made the flight a lot more comfortable. The movie program had not changed and the inevitable crying baby was on board (when will they introduce adults only flights????) but I slept from Hawaii to Fiji and was soon in Sydney.
There was the smell of Spring in the air on landing which indicated that the season's work with the grapevines was about to begin. And sure enough, on arrival home, I could see that bud burst was well under way with quite substantial shoot growth already on the Pinot Noir.