We packed up camp early to see the mountain reservoir one last time before we left the Bighorn National Forest and drove about an hour south to Buffalo, Wyoming. We arrived around 11:00 AM and check-in at our hotel wasn't until 2:30, so we had some time to burn. First two items on the agenda in my book: find a laundromat and get some warm food. Because stinky and hungry is not a recipe for a good day.
Lo and behold- a laundromat next to a Pizza Hut buffet! Hallelujah and Amen! We started a giant load of clothes and settled into a booth. We watched in awe as TLO ate salad, pasta, pizza, bread sticks, pudding, and dessert pizza before declaring he was full. Camping is hard work.
After picking up our laundry, we toured Historic Buffalo. There was a stream running through the center of the town with big trout that you could feed from a bridge, arts, sports, antiques, and tourist shops, and an ice cream stand. After a few hours, we were tired and decided to check into our hotel room early and get some rest.
The lobby of the Historic Occidental Hotel was absolutely stunning. It looked like an Old Western parlor with golden, embossed ceilings, animal mounts on the walls, a huge fireplace, a giant piano, and even a newspaper from the 1920s. Plants, flowers, and antiques were everywhere; pictures of famous visitors and beautiful paintings hung on the walls.
The hotel opened in the late 1800's, and much of the furniture and antiques in the hotel were original to the time period. It was incredible to stay in the same hotel that many famous people had visited in the past- like Teddy Roosevelt, Butch Cassidy, Calamity Jane, and Buffalo Bill.
We stayed in the Rose Room- easily the girliest room in the hotel. It was lovely- and Jacob didn't mind because it had ESPN. Ha! We lounged around and explored the antiques, furniture, and decorations in the room and got our first hot shower in days. Just saying that makes me cringe!
The hotel is connected to the Occidental Saloon (also historic with authentic bullet holes preserved in the walls). We planned to eat at the saloon around 6 to have a seat for the live bluegrass band that would begin playing at 7. Apparently, the saloon has live music once a week, and it's a big deal. Reed was super excited for the "banjo show," of course. We got all dressed up and couldn't find a seat in the house! It was a little bit of a bummer, but we found a nearby cafe and walked around town some more. We did manage to sneak into the saloon to let Reed see "the banjo show" for a few minutes, though, before going to sleep for the night. Inside. In a bed. It's the little things.
Reed and I snuck out of the hotel room early the next morning to let Jacob sleep in, the only birthday present he requested. We were in a seat at the Busy Bee Cafe by 7:30 and had a gigantic breakfast.
After breakfast, we walked a few blocks down and visited a nearby museum.
My favorite part of the museum was the memorial of Nate Champion, a hero who held off 50 armed invaders for 7 hours before getting shot and killed, buying the people of Buffalo enough time to form a posse to defend against and overcome the invaders.
His story of courage was incredible, and I teared up as I read it.
The memorial also included a log cabin, a tee-pee, and above all, in Reed's opinion, an old tractor.
TLO would've explored that old tractor for hours, but I made him move along after about 15 minutes of trying to explain parts of the tractor I knew nothing about. I'm becoming quite a tractor and bulldozer expert lately.
We walked back to the hotel and met up with Jacob, checked out, picked up a few supplies, and drove the two hours to our next camping site. We are supposed to spend the next two nights camping on the prairie on public land- that means no furnished campsite, no bathrooms, no water, no electricity. And probably no cell service unless we get really lucky. This is going to be the real challenge of the trip- especially for me. These boys could live out of a tent forever. I can't say the same for myself, so wish me luck!