Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Walk Downtown

After leaving the Irma Hotel after lunch the other day, LC, his friend from Alabama and I slowly walked through the downtown strip in Cody known as Sheridan Avenue.
Sheridan Avenue travels through the center of town and then continues west out of town, heading towards beautiful.
Traveling through Wapiti and the Shoshone National Forest, this same road continues all the way to the East Gate of Yellowstone Park.
Cody, in early October is finally returning to normal.
Normal means little traffic in town and that at least half of the stores in town will soon close for the winter.
All summer there is non-stop people and non-stop activity in this small western city.
Streets are closed off for dances and parades and gun fights.
There is a rodeo every night of the week.
The hotels are busy, there are lines to get into the restaurants, the Visitors Center and Buffalo Bill Historical Museum is crammed with tourists.
There are special events held all summer and every Thursday the downtown park holds concerts.
The three or four in-town campgrounds are packed.
Helmet-less bikers continually rumble through town alone, in pairs, in large groups.
Wal-mart parking lot is filled with visitors buying ice and food and souvenirs before blowing out of town, and in back of Wal-mart, campers and RV's fill the lot after having paid $10/night to camp right there.
Visitors on foot wander downtown with cameras, darting in and out of t-shirt shops and trinket shops and "dress like a cowboy and get your picture taken" shops.
It's all busy chaos.  Tacky and overdone and too noisy and hectic.  But also incredibly necessary to the financial health and stability of Cody.
In the newspaper the other day they reported on how businesses fared this past summer.
The bottom line was that there were more visitors to Cody this year than there were last summer, but they are spending less.
Where once they would purchase a high-end memento, they are now buying the t-shirt.
Which is not good news for Cody......................
Because this is a tourist dominated town, the entire downtown strip is filled with interesting, eclectic, colorful and original decorations and touches, that speak to visitors' expectations of Cody Wyoming.
Cowboy-related signage. 
Western, mountain, animal inspired decorations.
The types of stores available would be the ones you would expect in Cody.
High end photography studios containing astonishingly expensive portraits taken at Yellowstone.
Trinket stores where you can buy just about anything you could want, with the words "Cody Wyoming" and "Yellowstone National Park" emblazoned on them.
Steak restaurants.  Cowboy bars. 
Bead shops.  Boot shops.  Cowboy hat shops.
Home decorating shops from high end to low end prices, all containing bear and moose and elk decorations.
That sort of thing.
We only walked in and out of these stores once last year and did the same thing this year.
Once a year is enough to see what is still available, what is new, what is on sale, who is still open and who closed down due to the economy.
Even in the brief time we have been back here LC and I have run into a disconcerting number of store owners who desperately want to sell out but cannot. 
Either no-one wants to buy their business (which includes only merchandise) or nobody wants to (or cannot get a business loan to) buy out both merchandise and building).
Selling prices are astonishingly high.  So are commercial rental prices.
An unsettling reminder of the state of the economy.........................
We received this over-sized postcard in the mail the other day.
It was a card to remind residents to not feed the mule deer in the area.
There are large numbers of deer in town, and large numbers grazing in the pastures of rural homes on the outskirts of town.
They are so tame that I would consider them to be pseudo-pets.
Almost the informal pets of all of the residents of Cody, as they graze protected and unencumbered on people's grass, trees, bushes, vegetable and flower gardens.
They travel through town much as the residents do and nobody bothers them.
LC and I had to stop the truck a couple of weeks ago in the center of town, to allow a doe and her two fawns to cross safely.
The cards were sent out by Fish and Game to acknowledge that the deer population is underweight and has been stressed this summer due to the drought.  But please don't take it upon yourselves to feed them.
The postcard seems to me to be a bit of a misnomer because these deer are not really "wild" in the usual sense of the word.  But welcoming them to graze on your cottonwood trees and actively putting out grain and other feed for them over the winter are two different things according to Fish and Game.
Some will likely feed them anyway.
From my perspective I love to watch them, they can eat off any of our trees in the yard anytime they want to, but we watch and enjoy them from a distance......................
There are two miniature horses that reside at a ranch just up the road from where we live.
As I was heading to town the other day I caught sight of both of them grazing in separate fields close to the road.
Parking my truck as far to the edge of the gravel road as I could get, I climbed out and stood watching them for a short while, enjoying the sight of these chubby, useless but very cute little things..................
While watching them and enjoying the sheer cuteness of these little things I wondered why these two tiny buddies were grazing in separate pastures.
They stayed close to each other - letting only the fence separate them.
The little black and white horse began to cough and he sounded like an old man coughing.
Standing there for another five minutes I realized that the black and white tiny-horse probably had some kind of upper respiratory condition because he coughed often and consistently.  I hope the little guy is OK.....................
Black and white horse and little brown horse stayed close together even though they were both standing in large but separate fields........................
I took these pictures up on Chief Joseph Scenic Highway the day before we walked in downtown Cody.
The weather has definitely rebounded because yesterday it was 70 degrees.
The snow remains in the mountains though, and I love it.....................
The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?...........J. B. Priestley

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