There's not a lot to write home about as far as Cody, Wyoming is concerned.
Set on high plains, you pass a large rodeo stadium as you enter the town from the West with a large sign reminding you that Cody is the rodeo capital of the world. Hmmm...a selling point?
The town itself is a little underwhelming. I guess when you hear the names Laramie, Cody, and Cheyenne you imagine gunslingers riding down the middle of a dusty street lined with saloons and houses of ill repute, and a lone sheriff in a long black duster waiting for them with his hands poised above his set of pearl handled revolvers.
Maybe I'm guilty of building up these Romanticized visions of what I hoped to encounter when visiting these western towns, but damn it, they didn't live up to my imaginary hype. What I got instead after passing a couple of mini-mart/gas stations on the outskirts was a flat little town lined with shops begging you to realize that this town indeed had a colorful western past, and trying very hard to capitalize on such with all sorts of predictable merchandise.
There was the usual stetson hat and cowboy boot shops, a couple of jewelry shops featuring jade and silver, some western motif furniture venues, and a couple of restaurants with knotty pine interiors. Being the first true town we had visited since Jackson Hole we decided to stop and give Cody the benefit of the doubt. (Honestly we had no place else to go). We visited a nice antique shop down one of the side roads which actually had antiques in it. It's always fun to visit shops in different parts of the country because they always have collections of things you aren't used to seeing, and this Cody shop had a lot of western antiques that were quite old. It was fun to peruse and we spent a good half hour doing so. Hungry we walked back to the main street and found a little cafe that seemed popular, and sat down at a table surrounded by stuffed trophy’s of Wyoming wildlife.
I ordered a chicken salad sandwich and Jerani got the Cobb salad. Our waiter seemed like this was a new gig for him, and although he tried hard, it felt like he would have been much more at home separating calves for branding.
He forgot to clear all the past customers dishes from our table, didn't wipe off it, forgot to bring us silverware, and let another girl beat him back to take our orders. Usually I'd chalk this type of service up to hostility or laziness, but in his case you could just tell he was completely out of his element, and was honestly doing the best he could. The food was good though, and we weren't in any type of hurry so the servers ineptitude was easily forgiven. Jerani got a great looking Cobb Salad, and my chicken salad sandwich was made with red grapes, celery, and lemon and was really tasty. After lunch we drove up the one hill (mound) in town and found the post office where we mailed out a couple of bills. We let Max run un-leashed in a big grassy area adjoining the Library and post office while we took Erley for a stroll. Max loves to let er rip in a big open space and looks like a miniature version of a sheep dog when he strides out. You can just tell how much he enjoys getting off the leash for a little while and it does our heart good to see him run. After the animals leg stretching we filled up on gas and headed east and then north towards Montana.
As we drove the scenery started to look less and less like scenery, as we passed low farms with rusty machinery dotting the dry cloddish soil, and past through at least a half dozen hamlets that were nondescript and completely forgettable. The skies had started to darken and the wind began to pick up, and our little RV was buffeted by gusts as we drove deep into a featureless no-mans land. Few vehicles past us as we headed towards Billings, and the ones that did were usually old pickups with dogs in the back. (Some sort of Western lyrics would apply here).
The rain started in just about the time we hit the Wyoming/Montana border, and the wind was blowing so hard it was tough to keep the Pleasure Way in a straight line and away from the oncoming traffic. We had planned on staying in Billings for the evening, and although neither of us had ever visited before we figured as the largest city in Montana there must be something in the city worth investigating. We were wrong. Please forgive me if you are someone who dearly cherishes this city (I have know idea who that possibly could be) but Billings is one ugly hard luck town.
Gritty streets flanking small oil refineries and railroad tracks and lined with seedy looking establishments, mostly taverns, Billings was not the type of place anyone would consider a destination.
We drove in the spitting rain, still rocked by the buffeting winds, and right then and there decided to find a Walmart parking lot to ride out the night in. This was not the type of city you wanted to spend a dime in. Jerani found a Walmart and our GPS guided us past creepy discount stores, car lots, gas stations, and fast food outlets, and finally to the Walmart's humorless parking lot.
We pulled up next to a nice looking class A RV, and I went inside and asked permission to spend the evening which the assistant manager granted us. The clouds parted and the parking lot quickly became a eighty five degree steamy sauna. Without hook-ups, our only option was to run the generator, which we ran sparingly being that the air conditioner was still petering out after about fifteen minutes of use. We decided that it was cooler outside than inside so we took the animals for an extended walk around the gray confines of the parking lot, and as we were heading back to the RV we ran into the older couple who owned the class A just adjacent to us. We sat on the cement blocks that walled off the lot, and as the animals lazed in the shade we had a very nice thirty minute chat about RV'ing, Walmart camping, and travel in general. After retiring to the RV for the evening we ate a forgetful (I actually forgot what it was, so it must have been forgetful), watched a movie I had gotten from the Redbox in Walmart, and as the rain started falling again we turned in for the night happy to know that we'd be getting the hell out of Billings in the morning.