Friday, October 30, 2020

Fall road trips offer peaceful time, uncrowded parks, spectacular scenery

 

Whether you're headed east of west, it's freeing to be off and driving. Some safety pointers below.

JUMP IN THE CAR, HEAD FOR A MUSEUM OR NATIONAL PARK, BUT PLAY IT SAFE
While our American goldfinches have
fled Montana, we found this one in
a rest stop farther south in Nevada.


STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

WITH THE THREAT of Covid keeping us away from air travel, many of us are braving the highways this autumn and winter.
 Road trips are on the agenda for hundreds, including the two of us humans and our 15-year old Yorkshire terrier, our faithful companion, Nick.
Like many readers and fellow travelers, we're avoiding air travel. We find road trips to be a safer way to deal with the hazards of the virus. Museums and parks are not crowded, many restaurants offer delivery to the hotels, temperatures are chilly, but the air is fresh.  
Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers hit the road.

Road trips are on the agenda for many vacationers this as 2020 winds to a close. Those of us who usually hop on a plane to faraway destinations are staying closer to home, driving so we can enjoy "outdoor" stops. 
Off-season travel offers uncrowded parks and museums,
 here at Bozeman's Museum of the Rockies.


A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association found that 68 percent of travelers  feel safest when traveling by personal vehicle and when visiting outdoor destinations such as parks and the beach.
 Nearly half -- 45 percent -- of the respondents said they are likely to travel more by car.
THE DECISION to travel with family and friends limits contact with others, and those travel companions are likely to be the same people you’ve quarantined with over the past few months.
If any of your passengers have had outside contact, however, it is a good idea to wear masks inside the vehicle. Experts caution against wearing a mask when driving alone because of a potential reduction in oxygen and possible lightheadedness.
Nicky, our 15-year old Yorkshire terrier, at
a rest stop in Idaho on our current road trip. 


In the era of coronavirus, avoiding public transportation, crowded waiting areas, and strangers is considered a safer way to go. For overnight stops, we plan ahead, so we can choose a property by price as well as
by published cleanliness standards. 
We're big fans of the Hilton brand when it comes to cleanliness and comfort.
Hotels listed on AAA's guide offer clean, comfortable stays at our favorite Hiltons, and others.  We recently enjoyed a pleasant kitchen suite at Winnemucca's Best Western Plus. Sparkling clean room, friendly check-in, top hygiene and a tasty "grab and go" breakfast. The kitchen in the suite allowed us to prepare a simple tasty safe meal without venturing out. Ask about a suite upgrade. For a few dollars more, you can book a small kitchen or add a microwave and frig.
We noticed, too, another option: at our hotel in Tahoe both the pizza parlor and Chinese restaurant near the hotel both delivered.
Low gas prices are another benefit of this year’s road trips, with per gallon averages just under $2, the lowest it’s been in the last five years.  We use the Gas Buddy app and a AAA Triptik to help  with fuel prices, routes, and budget planning. Overall travel costs can be managed more easily on a driving trip, too. We stock the cooler and a grocery bag with water, soft drinks and snacks: cheese, fruit, chips, crackers, protein bar and nuts.
NOT ONLY do we avoid extra stops, but we  have healthy food prepared by ourselves.
Nicky the terrier and our great-niece Penelope
take a break from masking on a walk.
(Her mask is handy, on her neck, though.)
When it’s time for to stop for a meal and a rest, we look for a pleasant park or roadside complex where we can walk Nicky and stretch our legs.
Cracker Barrel, Subway and pilot Flying J all have high safety and hygiene practices.
We keep masks in the glove compartment, in my purse and in our carry-on, so we have them at the ready at all times. Even when we walk, we keep our masks handy. Our family in the Bay Area always masks, even on a walk to the post box on the corner.

California's central valley produces nearly half of the
country's fresh produce. Thousands of workers labor here.

UP NEXT: Come with us to California's rich farmland as we explore the farm to table phenomenon. We're in the beautiful and fertile central California "salad bowl" and we offer some of our favorite farmer's market shots, taken on this latest trip. Come enjoy the history of California's amazing and prolific central valley, which produces half of the nation's produce.  As we avoid the virus through healthy, cautious living, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a fresh look at travel, the arts, nature, family and more: whereiscookie.com

 











 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Autumn splendor: northern Rockies nature is at its showy best in fall

Autumn colors make a beautiful photo: chokecherries, wild rose, ornamental willow, aspen.

POETS PAY HOMAGE TO COLORFUL FALL IN FULL GLORY NOW IN MONTANA


"Life starts all over again, 
Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
on a walk near their Stillwater home.


when it gets crisp in the fall..."
--F. Scott Fitzgerald

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

NOWHERE in all my global jaunts have I seen autumns as lovely as Montana's. Sure, the Swiss Alps beg "stay a while" with their dramatic dips. Norway's birch and pine forests charm with their contrasting canvas of yellow, orange and deep green. 
The first scarlets and golds of autumn blanket the forests of Montana.
But Montana's fall takes a towering top place in my seasonal book.
Right now, we're relishing the change in the air, warm days followed by cool evenings, swaying aspen, pirouetting leaves and the distinctive, autumnal feeling that winter is knocking on the door.  
CRITTERS are on the prowl, making nests, stockpiling food, planning for their long winter as we take down screens and replace them with storm windows.
Seasonal birds are gone. The rare migrating grosbeak visits the feeder as the faithful chickadee remains.
I hope to fulfill F. Scott Fitzgerald's encouragement, that "life starts all over again....in the fall."
Boy, howdy, could we use a new beginning to this lousy year with the virus, political unrest, riots, looting and loss of theater, travel, dining out.
Oh, sure, we're still upright, "on the right side of the dirt," as my grandfather Gus said. But won't we all welcome New Year's Eve, as we flip the calendar from 2020 to a new year of promise, 2021?
MEANWHILE, we'll share a few more favorite autumn quotes.
William Cullen Bryant called autumn "the year's last loveliest smile." Emily Bronte waxed poetic with "Every leaf sings bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree."
Poets wax about autumn's splendors, here in the golden
valley of the Stillwater River, near Nye, Montana.

My favorite autumn quote is from Emily Dickinson, who observed that autumn was "A little this side of the snow, and that side of the haze." 
THAT MYSTICAL poet, Albert Camus, called autumn "a second spring, when every leaf is a flower."
Shira Tamir, who writes about nature and the human condition, said “Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day.”
Philosopher, poet Rainer Maria Rilke said of autumn, "At no other time does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” 
Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" 
Meyers enjoy an autumn walk this week.

We have not experienced a Montana autumn for more than a decade. We're enjoying the colors, warmth and transformation of nature as it unveils.  
It won't last long, so take it in before it vanishes.
HERE IN Montana, the trees will soon be bare and our driveway will accumulate several feet of serious snow.
The good news about winter's much needed moisture is it diminishes fire hazard for next summer and makes the spring grasses all the greener, the first blooms of columbine, wild geranium and lupine all the lovelier.
  


Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”
--Poet Stanley Horowitz
A father masks himself, and helps his son and daughter
at a grocery and bathroom stop on the road.








UP NEXT: Road trip time. As many of us continue to avoid air travel, we offer updated tips on traveling by auto in these Covid times.  Make certain everyone in the car is equipped with tissue, individual hand sanitizer and a mask for rest stops. The parks are uncrowded, gas is reasonable and it's a good time to appreciate the changing colors.  More tips await next week. Meanwhile  remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at travel, nature, the arts, family and more: whereiscookie.com


Friday, October 16, 2020

Bozeman, Montana: college town, foodie haven, with nature, museums and more

"Big Mike" greets visitors to the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, reopened since June.

BOZEMAN's BOOMING: MONTANA'S FASTEST GROWING CITY BLENDS BOHEMIAN, COLLEGIATE AND CITY INFLUENCES 

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

Snow can last into the summer on the peaks
above the pretty town of Bozeman, Montana.

I SPENT the first months of my life in Bozeman, where my parents were university students. They lived in a Quonset hut from World War II, which was recycled to provide married student housing.
I've nurtured a lifelong fondness for this lively and picturesque town of 40,000.
Beautiful Bozeman's population has increased by 20 per cent since 2012 making it the state's fastest growing town by far.
What attracts people to this place?  Perhaps the call of nature, for one can hear elk bugle in the suburbs.  The occasional black bears wanders into town and terrific fly fishing attracts both tourists and locals.  Restaurants offer variety, including tasty ethnic fare as well as good old western cooking.  And since the 1860s when prospectors opened up the Bozeman Trail, this lovely part of the Gallatin Valley north of Yellowstone has been a road trip stop-over. 
The drive from Bozeman, past
Big Sky to West Yellowstone,
offers many scenic stops.

Lure of Big Sky Country
BOZEMAN, MONTANA is popular with tourists in both summer and winter. Direct flights come from many major U.S. cities including Boston, Detroit, Atlanta, Nashville, Dallas, Denver, Newark and Houston. The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is in Belgrade, a quick eight miles northwest of Bozeman. It's owned by the Gallatin Airport Authority and is the busiest airport in Montana.  Even in Covid-19 times, Bozeman's thriving tourism and outdoors-related economies have held their own. It's the county seat of Gallatin County, famous for gorgeous views of the mountains, spectacular sports and nature access. Another draw is Bozeman's proximity to the country's oldest national park, Yellowstone.
Bozeman's International Airport is in Belgrade,
busy with many direct flights to big U.S. cities.
  

It also hosts the wonderful Museum of the Rockies, Gallatin County Museum and the American Computer and Robotics Museum.
Hollywood has discovered the Gallatin Valley, too.  Many award winning, big budget films have been shot there, including scenes from "A River Runs Through It" and "Far and Away." Fittingly, film star Gary Cooper was born in Helena and finished high school in Bozeman.
In 1864, English born W.W. Alderson described Montana’s Gallatin Valley as “one of the most beautiful and picturesque valleys the eye ever beheld, abounding in springs of clear water.” In the late 1800’s many agreed, calling it “The Egypt” or “The Garden Spot of Montana.”
The Gallatin Valley has attracted an array
of film makers. Motion pictures shot here
include "A River Runs Through It," above. 
The fame of the region dates back to April of 1805, when captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and the Corps of Discovery entered what is today Montana.
Over five months, they traveled up the Missouri and Jefferson rivers and along the Bitterroot Mountains, making some of the most significant discoveries of their epic adventure. Clark made a map of the Gallatin Valley, showing the three forks of the Missouri, the valley's “level open plain,” and the snow covered Bridger mountains. (Lewis and Clark split their party on the return trip, so Lewis could explore north of Great Falls, while Clark explored the Yellowstone.)
Not far from Bozeman is West Yellowstone, one of five
entrances to Yellowstone National Park and bison viewing. 


BIG SKY,
that booming resort where Montana born TV newsman Chet Huntley broke ground in 1967, is only 32 miles away. It opened with a flourish in 1973.  The award winning anchorman of Huntley-Brinkley fame had suffered a midlife crisis, moved to the mountains of Montana and created this resort town under the dreamy banner, Big Sky.  He said in an interview with Life magazine, "Maybe where there's clarity of air, there's clarity of thought." Could be.....
It's only 82 miles from Big Sky to Old Faithful, and an hour's drive to the closest park entrance, West Yellowstone. Many tourists base in Big Sky to tour the park, and it's a favorite drive of locals.


The foliage is beginning to turn golden, with splashes of red
as Montana and the northern Rockies head into autumn.

UP NEXT
: Autumn imagery in the west is a spectacular blend of oranges, yellows, and bits of red.  As leaves are turning, ranchers are moving their cattle to their winter pastures. Bears are feasting on the last of the chokecherries and there's a definite nip in the air. Explore this changing time, with sunrises and sunsets, and enjoy the beautiful autumn scenery wherever you area. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at nature, travel, family, the arts and more: whereiscookie.com

Fall road trips offer peaceful time, uncrowded parks, spectacular scenery (10-30)

Whether you're headed east of west, it's freeing to be off and driving. Some safety pointers below.

JUMP IN THE CAR, HEAD FOR A MUSEUM OR NATIONAL PARK, BUT PLAY IT SAFE
While our American goldfinches have
fled Montana, we found this one in
a rest stop farther south in Nevada.

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

WITH THE THREAT of Covid keeping us away from air travel, many of us are braving the highways this autumn and winter.
 Road trips are on the agenda for hundreds, including the two of us humans and our 15-year old Yorkshire terrier, our faithful companion, Nick.
Like many readers and fellow travelers, we're avoiding air travel. We find road trips to be a safer way to deal with the hazards of the virus. Museums and parks are not crowded, many restaurants offer delivery to the hotels, temperatures are chilly, but the air is fresh.  
Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers hit the road.

Road trips are on the agenda for many vacationers this as 2020 winds to a close. Those of us who usually hop on a plane to faraway destinations are staying closer to home, driving so we can enjoy "outdoor" stops. 
Off-season travel offers uncrowded parks and museums,
 here at Bozeman's Museum of the Rockies.


A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association found that 68 percent of travelers  feel safest when traveling by personal vehicle and when visiting outdoor destinations such as parks and the beach.
 Nearly half -- 45 percent -- of the respondents said they are likely to travel more by car.
THE DECISION to travel with family and friends limits contact with others, and those travel companions are likely to be the same people you’ve quarantined with over the past few months.
If any of your passengers have had outside contact, however, it is a good idea to wear masks inside the vehicle. Experts caution against wearing a mask when driving alone because of a potential reduction in oxygen and possible lightheadedness.
Nicky, our 15-year old Yorkshire terrier, at
a rest stop in Idaho on our current road trip. 


In the era of coronavirus, avoiding public transportation, crowded waiting areas, and strangers is considered a safer way to go. For overnight stops, we plan ahead, so we can choose a property by price as well as
by published cleanliness standards.
We're big fans of the Hilton brand when it comes to cleanliness and comfort.
Hotels listed on AAA's guide offer clean, comfortable stays at our favorite Hiltons, and others.  We recently enjoyed a pleasant kitchen suite at Winnemucca's Best Western Plus. Sparkling clean room, friendly check-in, top hygiene and a tasty "grab and go" breakfast. The kitchen in the suite allowed us to prepare a simple tasty safe meal without venturing out. Ask about a suite upgrade. For a few dollars more, you can book a small kitchen or add a microwave and frig.
We noticed, too, another option: at our hotel in Tahoe both the pizza parlor and Chinese restaurant near the hotel both delivered.
Low gas prices are another benefit of this year’s road trips, with per gallon averages just under $2, the lowest it’s been in the last five years.  We use the Gas Buddy app and a AAA Triptik to help  with fuel prices, routes, and budget planning. Overall travel costs can be managed more easily on a driving trip, too. We stock the cooler and a grocery bag with water, soft drinks and snacks: cheese, fruit, chips, crackers, protein bar and nuts.
NOT ONLY do we avoid extra stops, but we  have healthy food prepared by ourselves.
Nicky the terrier and our great-niece Penelope
take a break from masking on a walk.
(Her mask is handy, on her neck, though.)
When it’s time for to stop for a meal and a rest, we look for a pleasant park or roadside complex where we can walk Nicky and stretch our legs.
Cracker Barrel, Subway and pilot Flying J all have high safety and hygiene practices.
We keep masks in the glove compartment, in my purse and in our carry-on, so we have them at the ready at all times. Even when we walk, we keep our masks handy. Our family in the Bay Area always masks, even on a walk to the post box on the corner.


An uncrowded bird's eye view from a perch above the Pacific,
near scenic Point Arena, in northern California.



UP NEXT: Roadside attractions.  We've assembled some of our favorite scenic shots from this current road trip. Come enjoy the lakes, woods, beaches and off-road wonders that can be yours on a safety-minded, short or long driving trip.  As we avoid the virus through healthy, cautious living, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a fresh look at travel, the arts, nature, family and more: whereiscookie.com

 











 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Buffalo Bill Dam near Cody boasts spectacular views, history


The Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center offers a sweeping view of the reservoir.
Writer-photographer Rick Cosgriffe takes his camera for a
walk on the dam, with its fine views and interesting history. 

MAN MADE WONDER BROUGHT A BLOOM TO ARID WYOMING DESERT LAND


STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

IF YOUR travels take you through Cody, Wyoming, and into the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park, you'll be near one of the world's great man made wonders.
Don't pass it by.  
You have an opportunity to visit Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center, just 40 miles from Yellowstone and a scenic six-mile drive from Cody. So you can visit it going either direction.
The impressive concrete arch-gravity dam on the Shoshone River is a much visited Wyoming site, known internationally as a remarkable engineering experiment.
Named after the famous Wild West figure, William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, founder of the nearby town, the dam's visitor center provides a sweeping view of the reservoir formed by its construction.
Rivers and streams running the reservoir deposit fallen trees which collect beneath the viewing area. 
A walkway from the Visitor Center takes one over the dam.
KNOWN AT
the time of its construction as Shoshone Dam, it was renamed in 1946 to honor Cody, whose celebrity, dreams and generosity actually made the dam possible. The showman was among visionaries and investors who formed the Shoshone Land and Irrigation Company, dreaming of turning the arid area into farmland.
But even after acquiring water rights from the Shoshone River to irrigate 60,000 acres, the project proved cost prohibitive.  So Wyoming's State Board of Land Commissioners asked the Federal Government for help.  
Scrub land near the dam shows how arid the region is.
The dam made farming in the nearby valleys possible.
Then Bill Cody stepped saved the day. In early 1904, Cody transferred his water rights to the Secretary of the Interior and in July of that year, exploratory drilling began for Shoshone Dam.  
Thirty-six years after completion, in 1946, it was renamed Buffalo Bill Dam in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Cody, the man who made it possible.
THE DAM changed the face and future of Wyoming and was the key to opening 90,000 acres in the northwestern corner of the state. 
Wyoming's parched prairie gave way to irrigated farm land. So dry and forbidding was this part of the state prior to the dam that it was one of the last regions in the United States to be settled. 
It wasn’t until the 1890s, with dreams of irrigating the region and turning it into productive farmland, that a wave of people began to settle there.
That surge in the population coincided with Wyoming's statehood, July 10, 1890.
A series of photos and commentary details
the construction of the dam.
Those facts, and more about the Dam's sometimes troubled history are detailed in the Visitor Center.  Most of us aren't aware that there were deaths during the perilous project. 
BECAUSE THERE was no steel reinforcement used to build the dam, construction crews went through a huge amount of dynamite. Over the six years of construction, seven workers died in accidents -- from blast injuries and falls. It's worth spending an hour with the handsome displays in the Visitor Center to realize the human sacrifice.
The 350 feet high structure was designed by engineer Daniel Webster Cole and built over a six-year period between 1905 and 1910, originally 325 feet, enlarged in the 1980s. 
Today, the dam attracts plenty of tourists as well as local fishermen, even in the winter.
Golden eagles may be viewed around the dam. This one was
 injured on the road and brought to the Buffalo Bill
Center's rescued bird habitat.

Ice fishing has become popular here;  most of these intrepid fishermen pursue trout. The reservoir  contains both warm and cold water fish species including cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, cutthroat rainbow hybrids, brown trout, lake trout, walleye and perch.
If you've got the time, picnic tables with pretty views are set about the grounds and there's a small boat ramp. Swimming and bird and wildlife viewing are another attraction. We were thrilled to see both golden and bald eagles on our recent visit.

Cookie and Keller, with Yorkie Nick stand on the
lawn of the Museum of the Rockies by "Big Mike."







UP NEXT: Bozeman, Montana, is a college town, haven for nature lovers, with enough cosmopolitan attractions to to draw visitors from all over the world.  It's also a museum and foodie haven.  After being closed for several months, the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman is open again, and showcasing wonderful exhibits. The Gallatin County Museum is a charming diversion, too. Find out more about this fast-growing town, a gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a fresh look at nature, travel, the arts, family and more. Share the links you like from whereiscookie.com



Friday, October 2, 2020

Fun time with Buffalo Bill legend, lore in Cody, Wyoming

Cody's Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a world class complex of interesting and varied museums.

 
STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER
Irma diners enjoy a leisurely meal, with Queen Victoria's
beautiful bar as a backdrop, a gift to Buffalo Bill.

MORE THAN 100 years after his death in 1917, Buffalo Bill Cody lives on in the western town of Cody, Wyoming.
Buffalo Bill Cody rode throughout the world
in his famous Wild West show.



 Named after the famed soldier, buffalo hunter and internationally known showman, the town of Cody pays homage to the flamboyant man in its world class museum, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
WE SPENT a pleasant night and day in Cody, enroute to Yellowstone National Park, only 50 gorgeous miles away to the East Entrance. 
Cody is famous for its western ambiance, including a seasonal shootout at dusk by the Irma Hotel, named for Cody's daughter. The historic bar, built in 1902, boasts stiff drinks.  The restaurant serves up country cooking, and rooms are designed in the Victorian style. The hotels's much photographed cherry wood bar was given to Buffalo Bill as thanks for his entrepreneurial tour of Europe and the United Kingdom.  Bestowing the gift was one of his most ardent fans, Queen Victoria.
It's fun to stroll the streets for western wear, rib-sticking food, ethnic fare including Asian and Mexican offerings, and galleries featuring western paintings, pottery and crafts.
A highlight of our Cody visit was an lively hour spent aboard a green trolley of Cody Trolley Tours. Two entertaining and knowledgeable guides walked us through the history of the town, with historical stories, photos, stops at various locations and audio clips. They highlight old and new attractions around town, with video clips, artwork and relics such as a buffalo horn. 
Cody Trolley Tours offers an entertaining look at the town.
 WE ENJOYED the stories of the guides, particularly the one that  claims Bill's body rests in a picturesque gravesite atop Lookout Mountain, high above the town of Golden, Colorado. While his will stipulated he be brought back to Cody, his widow, Louisa Cody, claimed that Denver officials conspired to have Buffalo Bill buried in Denver. Others believe that's not really Buffalo Bill Cody's remains.  They think that Bill's Cody friends talked their way into the mortuary after his sudden death in Denver in 1917. Lore says the pals switched the body before it was buried, bringing him back to Wyoming.
 The controversy still fuels arguments.  
"Give us an hour and we'll give you 100 years," is Cody Trolley Tours' motto.  We take trolley tours all over the world, wherever offered.  This is one of the most fun we've experienced.
Cody is a lively place, and even with Covid, masking and distancing, we managed to enjoy ourselves. 
Cookie poses by a whimsical
Larry Pirnie art piece at the
Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The shops, restaurants, an entertaining walking tour and planning for the Yellowstone and Grand Teton visit made the visit a pleasant one.  The Irma remains the city's grand dame, and you'll not want to miss an afternoon or morning at the Buffalo Bill Center for the West, with its impressive array of museums ranging from Plains Indian exhibits, to one of the world's finest displays of western art and a firearms collection considered the most impressive in the Americas.
CODY'S ROUGH and tumble roots have spawned a town both sophisticated and "small.'' It retains the feel of a western village but offering citified amenities the seasoned traveler expects. For instance, there's a popular dinner show with western fare and cowboy music produced by Cody Cattle Company, a nightly seasonal rodeo, and the long-running shoot-out outside the Irma. 
The acting is far from Broadway quality and the script is not Pulitzer material, but the half-hour show is a fun diversion. We sat with a couple of Swiss honeymooners and a family from Sacramento, all enjoying the spectacle. 
If you book the Trolley Tour, take advantage of its front-row seat perk. For $3 more than the $25 tour price, the tour's amiable office worker Mitch places a sticker on a chair and you're sitting front-row for the action. You'll meet Butch Cassidy, Sundance, the town drunk, and a couple of lively chorus girls. A fake town backdrop is set up in the street and traffic is closed off for the bank robbery and jail break.
THE OTHER much enjoyed feature of the tour was a visit to the extraordinary Buffalo Bill Dam.
 The trolley tour does a quick drive-by, so we stopped the next morning enroute to Yellowstone.
With guns blazing, actors in Cody's seasonal
nightly gunfight entertain a global audience
.
At its christening in 1910, it was heralded as an engineering marvel, one of the first concrete arch dams built in the United States. Standing an impressive 325 feet high, it was then the highest dam in the world -- even surpassing New York's famed Croton Dam. That's up next.
We also enjoyed a tasty, authentic Mexican meal at Zapata's, with its welcoming outdoor patio, excellent margaritas and pleasant, accommodating service.
 Please keep tuning us in and share the link.
codytrolleytours.com; codychamber.org
centerofthewest.org
bbdvc.com; zapatascody.com 


Spectacular view from the walkway above the Buffalo Bill Dam.
UP NEXT
: The Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center offers an eye-catching walkway across the dam, with a view down to the beautiful Shoshone River.  It's on the way from Cody, Wyoming, to Yellowstone National Park's east entrance. The dam was completed 110 years ago in 1910, an engineering marvel at the time and still impressive today.  We'll take you there next week. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a fresh look at travel, the arts, family, nature and more: whereiscookie.com