Saturday, September 18, 2010

2010-32 Billings Montana to Cody Wyoming

Billings Montana
Cody Wyoming

Campground:  Wal-Mart Super center, Billings MT. Free.  Nice parking lot set off from all the other shoppers.  Trees and grassy medians enclose our little Rv world.  Half a dozen Rv’s parked for the night.

Campground:  Wal-Mart Super Center, Cody WY.  Free.  Nice side lots.  Quite at night, security lights and camera on.  A sign at the edge of their lot has a map of the town showing campers where the nearest dump stations are.  Many Rv’s come in in the late afternoon and early evening.  Finding sites against the far side the parking lot. Even a few people who sleep in their minivans and cars.

I was all set to head out early Sunday morning from Terry Montana, it being another time zone change and I’m now in the Mountain Time zone.  I begin to close the slides on the camper.  Hmmm, the large slide is only going in on one side.  Better stop and assess the situation.  Finally one of the park owners comes over to help and we manhandle the slide by pushing the errant side in.  Only took about an hour to figure how to do it.

I drive into Billings  200 miles down the road and park at a Wal-Mart super center, since I can’t open the slide, why pay for a campsite and I‘ll be that much closer to an Rv repair center in the morning.  After a Subway sub for lunch, I decide to take a look under the camper.  That’s usually the equivalent of my looking under the hood of my truck.  Look at all those things and hoses and stuff, not having a clue as to what half of it is.  But here I am sliding under my camper and looking up at the underbelly of it.  Hmm, there’s the slide motor and lookie there, a rotating bar that connects to the other side of the slide and a bolt appears to be missing.

After a number of attempts to get the hole for the bolt to line up, running back inside the camper, touching the slide button a tad, running back outside and under the camper to see if it lined up, I finally give up.  Fortunately a fellow camper was willing to help me a bit later and presto, I fixed the slide all by myself.  Well with the help of the said camper touching the slide button in and out until I could get the hole lined up and the bolt finally slid into place.  Feels good to be able to fix something on the camper after a little bit of cogitating and tinkering.

So now here I am, with the slides out, sitting in a parking lot on the outer edge of Wal-Mart and you know, it’s not all that different than some of the paid parks I been in.  I have a fully paved site (which all full timers cherish), the sun is setting behind full sized trees that line the medians between each lot and big box store.  Shortly the parking lot lights will come on for security and I’ll bed down for the evening.

I have enough water in the holding tanks, plenty of stored solar power to run the Tv this evening and charge up the laptop and cell phone.  Life is good when I’m able to solve life’s little problems and save a few dollars as well.


Headed out the next day for Cody Wy, checked with their visitor bureau and got some good information on the local area and campgrounds.  Was going to stay at a State park about 10 miles out of town, and as I passed a local Wal-Mart, said to myself, “What the heck”  stay their for a night or three.  As the stars must have been aligned correctly for me,  the next day I decided to drive the truck over to the service bay and have an oil change.  Minutes later after the truck was in the bay, both batteries died and they discovered I was low on oil.  Yikkes, had quite a scare there.  Oddly, one of the batteries ground terminal was not connected.  When did it get disconnected and for how long?  And why?  I have no idea.  As the fates were with me, they were able to replace the two low batteries and do the oil change and all is right with the world again.

Imagine if I had decided to camp out in the State park 10 miles away.  I would most likely have been stuck and had to call for a tow, that is, if I could have even gotten a cell  signal up between the mountain ranges.  I do sometimes think I have an angel watching over me.

In between all these repairs and self help fixing of the camper, I did take in The Buffalo Bill Historical Center, one of the most impressive multi-museum/art galleries I’ve ever been to.  5 major museums all connected into one huge complex.  Firearms, Western Art, Plains Indian Peoples, Buffalo Bill and American West and Nature of Yellowstone.  Whew.  I was exhausted, but in a good way after touring the huge complex.  I’m heading out on a trolley tour of Cody and expect to get much more information on the local area and it’s history.

Learned quite a bit about buffalo Bill Cody and his starting this town.  From his huge western shows that were performed all over the country, he even took his wild west shows abroad to Europe and England.  Where even Queen Victoria, then  a recluse, came out to see his show.  When the two met, Queen Victoria bowed to Buffalo Bill.  The first time anyone in England acknowledged someone from the U.S. in that fashion.  From that point on, the healing between Britain and the U.S. began.  Imagine, a cowboy, buffalo hunter and guide to many military Generals, making friends with the Queen.  She even sent a Cherry Bar to his new hotel in Cody Wy.  And yes, I did get to see it in the Irma Hotel.  Now that’s the kind of entrepreneur spirit we need to re-develop again in  this country.  He marketed his own image, then developed the wild west shows and eventually built a town.  Even to the point of placing it near the newly created Yellowstone, which at the time only had two entrances.  He convince  the President to add a third entrance.  Guess where it came out.  Right through the new town of Cody.  He even started to develop irrigation out in this dry arid country and was instrumental in having the first big dam project built in the U.S.  Yup, the Wild Bill Dam.

Even though this town is only about 6,000 strong, it hosts over 500,000 visitors a year.  Oddly enough, there are very few if any T-shirt shops in town, but lots of western wear, western antique shops, good restaurants and lots of evening entertainment to keep someone busy for weeks.  I went into a small shop and purchased a small trinket from a man of Lebanon decent.  Interesting to talk too as he wrapped up my small purchase in leather wrapped with twine and put a small feather through it.  Saying “that’s to wish you good journeys and happiness”.   Imagine.

I drove around and saw very little in the way of poor homes.  Most are very well maintained homes and many are pretty awesome homes along the ridge overlooking the town.  It’s a town I could easily live in.

Each evening, I look out over the mountains off to the west, with the road that winds it’s way through the pass leading into Yellowstone and watch the clouds as they scurry across the sky.  The wind picks up and the sun gets lower in the sky and finally slides behind one of the mountain ranges.  Finally, with the sky turning dark, the clouds changing from white to dark gray the wind settles down for the evening as well.  A western scene that can not be reproduced anywhere but here.  The dry warm air suddenly has a chill as the heat of the day quickly evaporates as evening sets in.  A quietness envelopes everything and I feel right with the world.

So much more to share, but I’ll save it for the next rambling’s.

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