Bill and Helen/ 2011 travel blog

Can you see why they call it Deer Park?

Isn't this the greatest? Actually, it is a shepherds tent but I...

Inside the Occidental Hotel


Dawn Wexo... She and her husband John restored this hotel and kept...

Clothes they found when they bought it

Library... Anyone staying here can use these books

Inside the hotel rooms...

We could go into any that were not occupied yet


cowhide chairs





bullet hole in the bar ceiling

another bullet hole in the bar

Hearse in case you didn't miss the bullet

Outside the Occidental Hotel

Crazy Lady Square... Downtown Buffalo

It was only a couple hundred miles to Casper when we left the Black Hills but the weather was really hot so we took our time and didn’t put a bigger burden on the truck than we needed.. We took the state routes instead of the Interstate and stopped in the city of Lusk for lunch.. For some reason, we just love that little city and we usually go through it whenever we go visit Bill’s Sister Jeanne and her family.. We had heard about a new campground in Casper (actually Evansville about a mile from Casper) and it had some good reviews so decided we wanted to check it out… Like most campgrounds in Casper, they had a lot of long term workers staying there.. Casper is an area that is filled with workers from many of the big oil, gas and electric companies.. And I mean big.. Like Halliburton and others like that.. They send their employees out for several months to work on the contracts they have.. This was not a problem at the River’s Edge RV Park.. There was plenty of room for all of us and they were not rowdy or anything like that.. Most of them worked 12 hour days 6 days a week and just ate and watched TV when they got home …

This park was right on the Platte River and was one of the cleanest parks we have seen… The owners are working very hard to make it the best park in Casper.. It already is as far as we are concerned..

Our visit to Casper was strictly to see Jeanne and Bob.. Jeanne (Bill’s sister) has had two surgeries in the past two weeks and has been in a lot of pain.. We didn’t want to put a burden on her but just needed to see for ourselves that she was OK.. This is his baby sister… Not fair, she has been through so much the last few years…

We spent about an hour with her in the morning and then left for a while so she could go to a Dr’s appointment… Then we let her rest and we bought a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken with all the sides over to her place for dinner.. We didn’t know it but it was Bob’s birthday that day and thankfully we had brought a small cake for dessert so that was good.. Jeanne’s son Curt also was there.. It was great to see them all even though we know that Jeanne overdid it when we were there… Bob sent us away with a nice big bag of walleye filets that he had caught earlier this spring.. What a sweetheart… He sure knows what we love.. Course it helped when he made the statement “I should give you a package of what I caught a bit ago”, and I said YES, YES, YES.. I’m not shy when it comes to begging for walleye….

The next morning we packed up and moved up the road about 120 miles to Buffalo, WY..

Normally we would have gone a little further to Sheridan but we have stopped there the last two times and never in Buffalo… We also wanted to check out a route that we might do later.. Also thought it would be a beautiful place to take some side trips… Wow, are we glad we did!!!!

When we checked in to the Deer Park Campground they asked us if we were here for the Basque… HUH! What’s the Basque? Well we are finding out what it is and what a lucky find for us.. Seems that they are having their 30’s Basque Festival with all kinds of activities, music dance and what to me is the highlight of it all is the parade they have tomorrow followed by the “Running of Sheep”… I will go into detail on that next time… I am so excited about it..

But today I will tell you about our first day in Buffalo… They found a fantastic site for us in Deer Park… It didn’t take long before we found out where the name came from.. We have deer out our window all the time.. Wild turkeys too.. The first ones we saw was a Doe crossing the road in front of us followed by twin Bambi’s … It was so neat…

The main town is not far away and we found a parking spot on Main Street right at Crazy Woman’s Square… How cool is that? We walked the street and stopped in several shops before we came to the Occidental Hotel. The first one was established in a tent in 1879 just three years after the Battle of the Little Bighorn.. In 1880 the hotel was constructed of logs and the brick building that is there today was built between 1901 and 1910… Famous guest of the hotel included Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill Cody, Teddy Roosevelt, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch.. Known as “a regular gambling hell” the saloon was the scene of many shootings… We were told that they found about 28 bullets when the restoration began in 1997 and completed in 2008… We were so fortunate to meet the woman that sunk several million to keep this era from going under…

The great depression of the 30’s caused the hotel to begin to fade and by the 1989’s the hotel had become so run down and dilapidated that it seemed only a matter of time before it was demolished… Along came John and Dawn Wexo that felt this history had to be preserved.. They started a 10 year process of historic restoration that has returned the Occidental Hotel to it’s status as one of the great hotels of the Old West. In 2007, True West magazine made it official by naming it The Best Hotel in the West!.

I was able to talk to Dawn and she told us of her passion of keeping this for the future but said that they would NEVER be able to get their money back.. It was a sore spot with her as we could tell because they have applied to the State of Wyoming for grants and have not received any help…

We toured the hotel and they allowed us to go into any room that was not occupied.. What a great place… Of course I took tons of pictures…

We stopped at the bar for a drink and took pictures of some of the bullet holes and enjoyed all the locals coming in for their happy hour with their cowboy hats and jeans… Even here though the younger gals have jeans that have been cut up and shredded and have tattoos on ¼ of their body… Some things are the same everywhere…

We ended our evening at a super restaurant called the Winchester Steakhouse.. It was great…….

Today we started out early for our trip to the Big Horn Mountains….


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