We wanted a more substantial breakfast than the cereal and sweet rolls offered at the hotel, so we headed off to Bubba’s Barbeque just down the road. It sounded like a strange place to have breakfast, but it was recommended by the Cowboy Village desk clerk. And it was good advice – I had two eggs sunny-side up with tasty bacon, home fries and a biscuit, and John had a biscuit with sausage gravy. Now, that may not sound like much, but you haven’t seen the biscuits at Bubba’s. These biscuits are bigger than your hand. I found them to be a bit dry and floury but apparently they were a great vehicle for the sausage gravy because John ate his all up. It was a really reasonable breakfast, too.
From Bubba’s, we went to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. This is actually five different museums under one roof – one dedicated to William F. Cody (for whom the town is named, naturally), one for western art (a lot of Remingtons), one for natural history, one for Plains Indian history and one for firearms. John and I went through the Buffalo Bill exhibit together, then went to the firearms museum. Naturally I was not as interested in it as he was, so I left him to enjoy himself and visited the art museum, the natural history museum, the gift shop, the bathroom and the internet kiosk the Center kindly provides in the lobby. Eventually John surfaced and we visited the Plains Indian museum together, then decided on a late lunch/early dinner back at Bubba’s. After that, we headed to the Irma Hotel, an establishment that Cody owned and named after one of his daughters. Folks were gathering in front of the hotel for the nightly Cody Gunslingers’ shootout, a cornball and historically inaccurate meeting of such figures as Buffalo Bill, Ike Clanton and Calamity Jane. It was casually and somewhat satirically performed by the Gunslingers, but the folks seemed to enjoy it. From there we had hoped to visit Trail Town, which is a collection of historic buildings from around the area that have been transported to the site and is supposed to be quite interesting. However, the site had closed half an hour earlier, so I had to be content with taking a few photos. I had also wanted to visit Colter’s Hell, which is nearby – I remembered a song from my childhood about mountain main John Colter which mentioned the place – but we never got around to it.
Instead, we went down the road to the Cody Night Rodeo. This goes on every night through the summer season, and for someone who knew nothing about rodeo, I found it really interesting although my sympathies were mostly with the livestock. John bought me a beer, popcorn and cotton candy so it was very festive. We were introduced first to the rodeo clown, who had a line of banter that was sometimes funny but mostly tiresome (he did an extended lame routine with a big outhouse set that began to fall apart on him mid-act). Finally we got into the first event, which was bareback bronco riding, which was pretty interesting although I felt sorry for the horses. Then we saw women’s barrel racing – I enjoyed that, especially the junior division. There was one little girl who couldn’t have been more than six who guided her pony very carefully around the three barrels, then kicked it up to a run for the dash to the finish. Apparently the pony didn’t care for being kicked and gave just enough of a buck to unseat the little cowgirl, who slid out of the saddle and eventually face-first into the dirt. She wasn’t hurt but she was clearly unhappy about the whole thing, and was carried off in a grownup’s arms, her face hidden in her blonde hair.
John and I were most impressed with the wranglers and the other rodeo clowns who were responsible for keeping the riders and the livestock safe. They were calm in demeanor and accurate with their ropes, riding and dodging, and really were a show unto themselves.
There was cattle roping and wrestling, a calf scramble (where all the kids under twelve were invited to come into the ring and chase a couple of calves around) and more stuff from the clown, and then the event I’d been waiting for – the bull riding. For some reason I really like to see a big bull doing its stuff, and they had some BIG bulls. All of them had names that lent themselves to theme songs (I told John if I had a big bull I’d name it Bad to the Bone, and sure as shooting there was one named just that, with the George Thoroughgood song to accompany his entrance). A couple of the riders managed to stick on their bulls but most of them didn’t do so hot – one bull came out of the shoot and pretty much stood on his head, throwing the rider immediately.
Around 10 PM the rodeo was over. Replete with western-style entertainment, history and cuisine, John and I went back to our little cabin at the Cody Cowboy Village, fell into our big soft bed, and had a really fine night’s sleep.