We left Custer around 9:30 this morning after spending a few minutes saying goodbye to Larry & Lee Ann. We so enjoyed spending the past week plus with them. We look forward to connecting with them on down the road.
It wasn't a long trip today - 188 miles - from Custer, SD to Buffalo, WY - but it was a beautiful drive. Didn't take long to drive out of the Black Hills & onto the plains of eastern Wyoming. We were surprised at the amount of oil activity in Wyoming - some shut down but some of the pumpers were still pumping. And we passed a big open pit coal mine. Then we started getting views of mountains looming in the distance & we got closer & closer to the Big Horn Mountains.
It was just before 2:00 when we stopped at Deer Park in Buffalo so after we were set we headed into their downtown historic district. We'd been told not to miss the Occidental Hotel. Founded in 1880 the Occidental Hotel quickly became one of the most renowned hotels in Wyoming. It was visited by many famous people of the Old West as they traveled along the Bozeman Trail at the foot of the Bighorn Mtns. As time passed the Occidental was expanded & rebuilt until it became a "grand" hotel with elegant decor & fine service. The Great Depression took it's toll on the hotel & by 1997 the final demolition seemed close at hand. Instead, the building was purchased by new owners & a 10-year restoration process began that returned the Occidental Hotel to its status as one of the fine hotels of the West. It's been awarded Best Hotel in the West 2 years in a row! The saloon at the Occidental was also famous far & wide. In the barroom the lawful & the lawless played faro & pocker...flirted with pretty ladies...drank copious quantities of powerful spirits...& occasionally shot up the place. In 1908 the original rough barroom was replaced with one of the most elegant saloons in Wyoming. An imposing back bar with stained glass accents was installed along with an intricately embossed tin ceiling & impressive period decorations everywhere. All of this has been preserved & restored. So we stopped in at the saloon for our mid-day meal. This being Thursday people were arriving at 4:00 for the 7:00 Bluegrass jam session. Unfortunately, we needed to get back to Callie & the first football game of the season. But we enjoyed our meals & seeing the historic hotel, saloon & town.
Tomorrow we're headed for Wapiti in the Cody area - near Yellowstone Nat'l Park. So, more later...